Halftone Pictures with a CNC Machine

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Halftone Pictures with a CNC Machine

Halftone Pictures with a CNC Machine

A halftone is a series of dots, usually shades of black and grey but sometimes in color, on a background. The dots are very small and from a distance make it look like solid color is present instead of a series of dots. This illusionary technique is used as a form of art to make pictures. Because this form of art basically just involves making a large number of holes on a solid piece of material it is a project that can be done on a CNC machine.

halftone Pictures cnc

halftone Pictures cnc

Using a CNC machine you will not actually have dots that are different colors to create the image on your project. Instead you can drill holes of various depths and sizes to create the same image effect normally achieved with different shades of color. Depending on the type of material you use the results of your project can vary greatly. Something that looks fantastic drilled into metal may not carry the same effect when drilled into wood or vice versa. The types of materials you can use will just be dependent on the kind of CNC machine you are using.

You do have a few different options when getting the image file for your project ready. The first and most obvious option is to make the file yourself in the software. The easier option is to use software that takes a regular image file (.jpg, .png, etc.) and converts it to a halftone image. One program that can do this is Halftoner, which can be downloaded here: http://jasondorie.com/page_cnc.html. Simply drag and drop your image file into the software and it will transform it into a halftone image. The program allows you to customize the shape, size and spacing of the dots in the halftone image and it can write to G-code to match the spindle and feed rate of your machine. Your second option is Reactor (available at the same web link as Halftoner). Reactor is a more basic program than Halftoner. The images it creates are not vector files like the ones generated by Halftoner and it cannot write G-code. Halftoner is the better of these two choices but if it does not meet your needs for some reason you do have a second option with Reactor.

Just for fun If you think that dots are not a creative enough format halftone pictures can also be made using ASCII art. ASCII art is a graphic design technique where you use the symbols and characters located on a keyboard to create an image. For example, a triangle in ASCII art would look like this:

/\

/__\

 

With enough creativity ASCII art can be used to make any image from something basic like a stick figure to a realistic looking picture of a dog. While ASCII art is rare today there were older computer eras where the technique was quite common; guides and tutorials on the art style can be found online with a simple search engine inquiry. Since ASCII art was made from what was available on a keyboard any computer should be capable of generating this kind of halftone picture.

halftone Pictures cnc

halftone Pictures cnc

In addition to using just dots halftone pictures can also make use of short, curving lines. While it is possible to create images using just dots the use of lines can make your images simpler to create and can add a different feeling to the work compared to a piece made of only dots. The field of making halftone pictures while using a CNC machine has not been explored too much so there are a small number of tutorials and other instructional materials on the topic. But like with any kind of CNC project once you get some practice in and familiarize yourself with these techniques you will become an experienced user in what feels like no time at all.

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Halftone Pictures with a CNC Machine
Description
A halftone is a series of dots, usually shades of black and grey but sometimes in color, on a background. The dots are very small and from a distance make it look
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