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Adobe Illustrator Tutorial: How to Create Interesting Text Effects Using Phantasm CS

posted by: Iaroslav Lazunov, in Illustrator Tips / Tool/ Comments: 5
Final Image Preview
light effect with halftone

You can download the source vector file for this tutorial

Phantasm CS is a plugin for Adobe Illustrator providing color adjustment, embedded image handling and essential pre-press tools. With the help of Phantasm CS, you can also create fully managed Halftone effect. Exactly this property of the plugin will be discussed in this Adobe Illustrator Tutorial.

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe IllustratorCS3-CS5+ Phantasm CS;
  • Difficulty: beginner;
  • Estimated Completion Time: 20 minutes;

Step 1

Choose a bitmap image and paste it into your document workspace.

bitmap image

First let's see what the standard feature of the Halftone in Adobe Illustrator offers us. Select the bitmap image and go to Effect> Pixelate> Color Halftone.

halftone options

We can see a number of values in the dialog box. Does this mean something for you? For me neither. In addition there is no possibility of changing these values and observing what happens to the image. Well, randomly click on OK.

illustrator halftone

Step 2

Oops! That's exactly not what I wanted. Fortunately, I know what to do. Let's go back to the settings of the effect by clicking on its name in the Appearance palette.

halftone options

Set 0 for all the channels and click on OK.

color halftone
illustrator halftone

Step 3

Oh, where did the red color appear from? Keep the object selected, go to Object> Live Trace> Trace Options ... and set the parameters in the dialog box as shown in the figure below.

tracing options
tracing halftone

Why am I setting these parameters? Because I have experience. Now keeping the object selected, go to Object> Expand Appearance, then Object> Expand.

Vector halftone

All the elements have turned into vector objects, let us take a close look at what we got.

Illustrator Halftone

What can I say? You can be experimenting with the parameters of Color Halftone and Trace Options for hours, and I still will not guarantee that you will get an acceptable result.

Now let's see what Phantasm CS offers us.

Step 1

After installing the plugin, the entry with its name appears in the bottom of the Effect menu. Select the bitmap image and go to Effect> Phantasm CS> Halftone ....As you can see, the dialog box of this effect includes many features, and we can observe changes the image by controlling these features.

Monochrome halftone

Step 2

Get yourself familiar with some of these functions, and then apply our knowledge into practice. You can choose form the color image type: Monochrome, RGB, Sampled.

Sampled halftone

If you choose Monochrome type, you can specify the color of the effect.

Color halftone

Step 3

By setting the DPI, you can specify the number of points of effect.

DPI halftone

You have an opportunity to choose from the type of Pattern, it can be a Grid, FM or Radial.

FM halftone

Each type of Pattern has additional configurations.

Alternating halftone

Step 4

You can control the coordinates of the effect, for example, in the case of radial type of the Pattern, you can specify the coordinates of its center.

coordinates of halftone

Step 5

Halftone can consist of different objects: circles, squares, lines, characters and even symbols from the panel of the same name!.

circle halftone
square halftone
character halftone

Step 6

You can scale shapes which the image consists of.

radial halftone

If scaling is not proportional, you can get ellipses or rectangles, in addition, you can change their slope.

ellipse halftone

Of course, in this small tutorial I did not describe all the features of this effect, so simply install this plug-in and experiment with it.

Step 7

After applying the effect, the image stays raster. Turn it into a vector. Go to Object> Expand Appearance.

great halftone

Great! We got perfect circles. I think you cannot even compare this with the base effect of the Halftone in Adobe Illustrator neither in quality nor speed of execution.

Step 8

Now let's apply Phantasm CS in practice. All the features of the plugin that were described by me can be applied not only to bitmap but to vector images as well. Let's try using Halftone from Phantasm CS trying to create interesting text effects. Take the Type Tool (T) and create a word «LIGHT».


Keep the text selected, go to Object> Expand and Effect> Phantasm CS> Halftone ... Set the parameters listed below.

halftone from square

We got text consisting of rectangle.

light from rectangles

Go to Object> Expand Appearance and swap fill with stroke.

halftone from rectangles

Step 9

Create a different effect, this time with the word «NEON».


Apply the Halftone effect to it with the parameters specified below.

halftone from line

Go to Object> Expand Appearance, then Object> Expand and click on Unite from the Pathfinder palette.

Pathfinder box

Now we can move some elements, as shown below.

line text effect

Step 10

Now let's create the effect using a symbol. First, create a symbol. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a circle, fill it with radial gradient from yellow to orange color.

radial gradient

Create two more circles of red color. The bigger circle lies in the underlayer below the smaller one, and has 0% opacity. Select both circles and go to Object> Blend> Make.

Blend effect

Unite both objects created in this step.

Light element

Step 11

Group up the created objects and drag them to the Symbols palette.

Symols palette

Select the text and symbol in the Symbols palette, and go to Effect> Phantasm CS> Halftone ..., pick the value in the dialog box and choose the Selected Symbol in the Dot Properties section.


You can download the source vector file for this tutorial


I think you tested the functionality of Phantasm CS, now it only depends on your imagination. I created a text effect using this plug-in and the Color Dodge Blending Mode. You can find more information about this technique in my tutorial Neon. You can download Phantasm CS plugin here.

light effect

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Total comments: 5
0   Spam
1 umar   (2011 Aug 21 22:03)
thx dude, that good tutorial... biggrin

0   Spam
2 Uma Shankar   (2012 Apr 09 12:34)
its very good to learn... thnx a lot buddy....

0   Spam
3 jaroslav   (2012 Apr 09 12:35)
Thank you Uma

0   Spam
4 Timegets   (2012 Sep 17 13:41)
Halftone in Phantasm is cool!

0   Spam
5 John   (2013 Jul 03 02:56)
Interesting effects, I have a Photoshop action for creating similar pixel neon text effects

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