Photoshop/Affinity templates that auto-convert full-color multi-layer art to B&W dithered grayscale on the fly as you work

This 400x240 .psd takes any artwork--on multiple semi-transparent full-color layers with blend modes, masks, effects, or whatever--and does the following, in realtime on the the fly as you work:

  • Converts it to black and white for PNG export

  • Dithers it to grayscale with a 2x2 matrix--and you can adjust the dither alignment by dragging

I use it mainly for pixelart (zoomed in until the grid appears) but it also works with photographic or soft-brushed art. It exports a 5-level "checkerboard" grayscale using only the 3 grays that appear as nearly smooth solid colors on the Playdate hardware. It could easily be modified to use pinstripe dithering if you prefer.

It could even handle more than 5 levels (4x4 matrix = 17 levels) with some added work, although for that I tend to just let Photoshop's Export handle the dithering instead of doing it on the fly.

Download for Photoshop: (129.8 KB)

NEW—Download for Affinity Photo: (230.2 KB)

This saved me TONS of time making my Playtime clocks, and I meant to share it before... but I guess I never did!


Thank you. Have you got the same file for Affinity Photo?

It seems to use some compositing that Affinity Photo doesn't support--although it does load in Affinity Photo (with an error message and the dithers mis-applied).

I have not tested the new Affinity Photo 2. That release seems to have new compositing features, so if anyone tests it, I'd be curious to know the result!

It opens in Affinity Photo V2 with a message:

Unknown property : EffectGradientFill,gs99
Unknown property : EffectGradientFill,gs99
Unknown property : EffectGradientFill,gs99

And the image in the file looks cool but is e.g. not B&W.

I'll have a play and see if I can recreate something resembling it.

Is that's how it's supposed to look? I'm not quite familiar with APV2's new interface but this looks potentially right to me? Sorry I don't have PS to compare the original.

I can't actually... figure out how it's working in Affinity Photo. I'd love someone who understands it better to explain it! (201.7 KB)

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Thanks for giving an Affinity version a go! Here's the .psd output of that Mona Lisa example:

And here's how the .psd works:

  1. Convert to grayscale (you can then add adjustments like Curves as needed to tweak the Posterize result)

  2. Posterize to 5 levels (black—25%—50%—75%—white)

  3. Three dither patterns replace the three grays, using "Blend If":

So in that screenshot, the 75% dither pattern is set to apply to anything from 70% to 90% gray. Those thresholds need not be precise—the posterization is already done—they just need to bracket the 3 gray levels. A range of 74% to 76% would have worked too.

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OK! I went for it and made a version for Affinity Photo. Should work in both V1 AND V2. (230.2 KB)

(I had to move the grayscale/posterize layers out of their group, and add a Curves layer to compensate for Affinity's uneven/dark Posterize function vs. Photoshop's.)

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Affinity version added to original post. Wasn't too tricky after all!

¿Gimp version is possible? Would be a great plugin too.
Thanks so much

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I don't know if Gimp can do the same thing or not (seems likely?) but the steps illustrated above might give someone a head start on creating it!

If anyone makes a template for Gimp or other apps, please share!

Thank you for the explanation, and the Affinity Photo version!

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