Subtle Textures in Photoshop – Mezzotint

Another in a series of creating subtle textures in Photoshop, this one uses a prepared gradient ramp that has the mezzotint filter applied to it. The texture ramp is saved as a smart object that can then be placed into a new file and colorized and blended as necessary.
1. Create a new document – if creating a document to serve as the background of a presentation make it a standard screen size – for my example I am using 1920 px wide by 1080 px high by 72 pixels per inch.

2. Make a new Gradient adjustment layer, then click the gradient ramp dropdown and choose the Black to White Gradient (typically the third option from the upper left). Leave it at Linear at 90 degrees. Click OK. [We will be making this into a Smart Object, so if you want to modify this later on it will be a simple as double-clicking the Gradient Fill Smart Object, making the edit in the Gradient.psb file and saving.]

3. Go to the FILTER menu > PIXELATE > MEZZOTINT. Photoshop will prompt you to convert the Gradient Adjustment Layer into a Smart Object or Rasterize the Layer – Select the Smart Object option to maintain maximum flexibility.

When the Mezzotint window pops up select Fine Dots as the Type and click OK.

Save your file as Mezzotint Gradient Ramp.psd (Photoshop format)
4. Create another new file, same as before. Create a Solid Color Adjustment Layer and fill it with a color of your choice, I used #eec5c5 for my example.

5. Go to the FILE menu > PLACE LINKED and place the Mezzotint Gradient Ramp.psd file – the new file will fill the entire window as it is the same size, hit the Enter key on your keyboard or click the checkmark to place it. Placing it as linked will allow you to edit the Mezzotint Gradient Ramp.psd file and after saving it have the updated file appear in your new document.

6. Change the Blending Mode to Darken for the Mezzotint Gradient Ramp layer. Darken will select the darker of either the blend layer (Mezzotint Gradient Ramp) or the base layer (Color Fill 1). When this blending mode is selected the black dots are visible but the white background disappears.

7. To change the color of the dots, add a Color Overlay effect to the Mezzotint Gradient Ramp layer. Click the FX icon at the bottom of the Layer Panel and select Color Overlay. For the Blend Mode select Screen at 100% Opacity and select a color of your choice from the Color Picker; for my example, I am using #acb5dc. The screen blending mode replaces the black in the Mezzotint Gradient Ramp with the color and leaves the white of the original file alone. Click OK.

8. Depending on your selected color for the color overlay you may want to change the Opacity for the Mezzotint Gradient Ramp layer, for my example, it is set to 25%.

9. If you want to change the direction of the gradient ramp, go to the EDIT menu > FREE TRANSFORM (Or Cmd/Ctrl + T) and rotate and scale the layer as necessary.

10. To make even more varied textures, copy the Mezzotint Gradient Ramp layer by dragging it to the New Layer Icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. Rotate and scale the new copy and change the Blend Mode to Lighten (this will make the white of Mezzotint Gradient Ramp present and make the color disappear) You can also leave it at Darken and change the color in the Color Overlay effect.

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