by Angela Taylor aka Kitiara

Scanlines are a common feature of web images nowadays. The effect replicates the kind of lines that appear on a TV, and can give a photograph a similar look and feel.

Creating Scanlines:

  1. The first thing to do is open up the image you wish to add the scanlines to. It can be colour, black and white, whatever you like. Just make sure that the picture is in RGB mode. Do this by clicking on ‘Image’ in the toolbar, ‘Mode’ from the resulting drop down, and select ‘RGB Colour’.

[ the photograph before any alteration ]

  1. The scanlines themselves are added by using a Fill Pattern. But first we have to create it. Go to ‘File’ > ‘New’ and make a new image with the settings shown below. Really you can tailor this to suit your needs, but for the time being, a 2 x 6 pixel transparent image will do nicely. Ensure that the background is set to Transparent.

[ settings for the pattern image ]

  1. Zoom right in to the new image. Using the Rectangular Marquee tool, make a 1 pixel high line across the top of the canvas, and fill it with black. Again, you can choose the colour to fit in with your image if you wish. You can also play around with the lines - draw more than one, have different thicknesses, it’s entirely up to you.
  2. Once you’re happy with the way your scanline will look, it’s ready to be saved. Instead of the usual ‘File > ‘Save’ method, go to ‘Edit’ instead. There’s an option near the bottom of the menu called ‘Define Pattern’. Click on this to bring up a small Dialogue Box, asking you to name your new pattern. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call it ‘Scanlines’. Close the image. If Photoshop asks you whether you want to save it, answer ‘no’.

[ The Pattern Dialogue Box ]

  1. Now you’re ready to apply the scanlines to your initial photograph. Going back to the picture, add a new layer above the main image. Call it something meaningful. Click on the Fill tool, and take a look at the menu that appears just under the main toolbar along the top. To the left hand side, there’s an option called ‘Fill’ and a drop down box that currently says ‘Foreground’.
    Click the arrow here to pull up another option - ‘Pattern’. That’s the one we want. A new box should appear next to it. Again click on the arrow to bring up a selection of available patterns. You should be able to see your new Scanlines in there, so click on the box to select them.

[ Select a pattern fill ]

  1. Move the cursor over to the new layer of your photo and left click to fill. The scanlines will now repeat all over that layer, covering your image.

[ adding the scanlines ]

  1. All that remains to be done now is to change the opacity of the pattern layer, so the original image is visible through it. Use the drop down slider in the Layers panel to choose something suitable. 25% opacity works quite nicely.

The finished image should look something like this:

[ image with scanlines applied ]



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