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Not sure if it would make sense to incorporate this into the vectorisation tool, but somehow I find it related:
VECTOR HALFTONE... would be a killer feature that even Adobe doesn't offer. It is possible to achieve this effect in illustrator with 3rd party plugins from Astute Graphics – heres a link:

This could be a dealbreaker feature for many...

(iPad version too, please) :)

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Something like the astute offering would be amazing - I use vector halftones on the majority of my T-shirt designs, but currently have to do quite a lot of twatting around to achieve it, although, Image Vectorizer is really great for this - if astute engineered phantasm to work with designer it would be a must have purchase - but having all that kind of stuff just built in to designer would be incredible 


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Affinity Designer, Photo and Publisher 1.9.2 + Illustrator CS5 / VectorStyler mainly for Vector distortion workarounds + InDesign CS5 for multipage spread jobs with Slug + ImageVectoizer / Vectorize for raster to vector conversions







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11 hours ago, Dazmondo77 said:

have to do quite a lot of twatting around to achieve it

Vectorising raster effects? a lot of work.....  Give the Astute plugin a go, they have a fully working 14 trial for illustrator.

The plugin is great, but not perfect:
Its biggest flaw is the speed – but this is not Astute's fault – I'd blame Illustrator... it's a memory hog and in my opinion the program is not effective when it comes to performance. I *thought* vectors were not only resolution independent, but also small i file size and quick to render. I *thought* that, because this is how things were back in the Corel Draw days. I have not used Corel for ages (and would never ever ever ever go back), but I remember it was possible. I have since worked on Deneba Canvas (now ACDSEE Canvas. Great program - easy to learn, for the record) and then Illustrator. (rather steep learning curve).

I have big hopes for AD as I have lost faith in Adobe. I use Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign on a daily basis, but the programs have stopped evolving. There are still things missing, there is still room for improvement, there are things I have been waiting for for years – but updates only seem to expand their RAW support. Yawn. Subscription model doesn't make it better. ;)

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This could be a dealbreaker feature for many...

Until someone else comes along and insists that their favorite elaborate-special-effect-of-the-moment should be "built in."

Here's the thing: Do you want your main drawing program to be an elegant environment that provides full-powered base capability for drawing, or do you want it to be a grab-bag collection of elaborate special effects that move in and out of popularity?

Altsys/Aldus/Macromedia FreeHand was Illustrator's nemesis since the beginning of the so-called "desktop publishing revolution." One of many things it provided which Illustrator never has is object-level halftone settings.

This straightforward, unobtrusive feature allowed you to apply actual PostScript-supported halftone shapes (diamonds, ellipses, lines, etc.) at any ruling (LPI) and angle at the individual object level.

And these were real halftones, meaning this: If you pick up your loupe and look at a real halftone, you'll find that it's not a simple matter of making a grid of dots vary in size. In a real halftone, the dots also vary in shape as they scale toward and across the 50% tones. The round dots become gradually more "square-ish" and begin to smoothly merge at the corners as they aproach 50% (like the so-called "metaballs" effects you often see people trying to emulate nowadays). Past 50%, they stop being dots and become "holes." They therefore don't become "star-shaped" voids between overlapping dots with spikey corners and concave sides.

Now, that kind of real halftone effect, unobtrusively implemented at the object level and with clean vector-based results (not sloppy auto-tracing), I'd love to see built-in. But...

The first attached image is one sample result from an AI Javascript I hacked together shortly after that program acquired its scripting features. I call it my "Faux Halftone" script, for the reason explained above; like all third-party effects plug-ins I've seen, the "dots" just scale, they don't reshape and merge as real halftone shapes do.

Still, it's a neat effect; I'm not arguing that—until it becomes over-used and passe, as such things are prone to do. Once upon a time, the ubiquitous fuzzy raster-based drop shadow was the  "killer-effect-to-die-for." It became probably the most overused effect on the planet, to the point that current design trends avoid it.

The vector-based appeal of the faux halftone effect, of course, is that anything (from single simple paths, to whole drawings) can be used as the "dots." To demonstrate that in the attachment, I used something suggestive of an atom and something suggestive of a planetary orbit on the same image.

My point here is this: I am not a programming wizard. Far from it. There's just nothing all that programmatically intense in this effect (processing-intense is another thing). This is how it works in my script:

Illustrator provides three things that are leveraged by the script:

  • A little-used Effect called Create Object Mosaic. All this basically does is create an array of vector squares across a raster image. (An auto-trace feature set to maximum accuracy, like the one that shipped with Corel Draw long before AI had a decent auto-trace feature) should be able to do this.)
  • Symbols.
  • A Javascript DOM.

To generate such an image, I:

  1. Draw the vector artwork I want to serve as a "dot." Store it as a Symbol.
  2. Select a raster image. Of course this doesn't have to be an imported raster; it can include anything I originally create as vector paths and then rasterize on the page.
  3. Run the Create Object Mosaic Effect. Using the grayscale settings, this yields a rectangular arry of squares, which vary in lightness.
  4. Invoke the script, which simply loops through the selected squares, and for each:


  1. Gets the grayscale value of its Fill.
  2. Gets its position.
  3. Gets its size.
  4. Places a Symbol Instance in the same position.
  5. Scales the Instance to the size of the square.
  6. Scales the Instance by percentage according to the grayscale percentage of the square.
  7. Deletes the square.

So you see that the function of the script is just a set of very simple and understandable commands that are not—but could be—provided in the standard interface.

But this same script (or same series of commands) can also be used to generate things very different from a course faux halftone. For example, it can generate Pixie Dust (the second attached image).

What I want to see in my primary vector drawing program is not a grab-bag of pre-built effects. The main point of all the above is, a serious drawing program needs to provide the robust functional underpinnings that facilitate data-driven creativity. That leads to far more originality potential than just an increasingly cluttered pile of standalone, turn-key, one-trick-pony, instant-gratification effects.

The kinds of things I want to see in Affinity are functionally versatile commands that can be creatively applied for endless originality, like:

  • Replace With Symbol (with appropriate parameters, and not limited to just replacing other Symbols, like Illustrator).
  • Path strokes that can use Symbols as a repeating pattern along the path (with options for orientation to the path or the page; and for warping or not); or as a single instance stretched along the path; or as path ends (also with the orientation, scaling, and warping options). One such carefully integrated feature set would exceed the potential of a whole collection of separate standalong features (like those in AI and other programs). 
  • And of course, a well-documented scripting Object Model.

But consider: A full-blown scripting implementation is a very ambitious feature. And when it comes down to it, my Faux Halftone script effectively just performs a "replace with..." and scaling based on attributes of the replaced object—in other words, things that could be implemented in a few carefully thought-out standard commands.

Such commands could then be semi-automated by a mere macro feature—much less than a full-blown scripting engine, and requiring no scripting expertise on the part of the user—yet has far more creative potential for originality than just another turn-key single effect.




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  • 3 months later...

If you want to do more complex vector halftones you could also take a look at our software Vectoraster. It's designed to work as a companion with copy&paste support into for example Affinity Designer or whatever vector illustration suite you use.

I may not be completely unbiased in this, but as indicated by the previous posters above I think it will be very difficult to get the same level of customization and performance with such a specific vector generation effect built into a more general design platform like Affinity Designer (or Illustrator).


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Thank you very much for sharing! This looks very promising. Will definitely try it and purchase if it meets my expectations.

About what ‘main stream’ software should and should not do is a very large subject... and I write more later.

I just think that generalising the needs sounds like an excuse. ;)

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