Screentone is a technique for applying textures and
shades to drawings, used as an alternative to hatching. In the conventional process, patterns are transferred to paperfrom preprinted sheets, [Sharon Kinsella, "Adult Manga: Culture and Power in Contemporary Japanese Society", Routledge, 2000, p59. ISBN 0700710035] but the technique is also simulated in computer graphics. It is also known by the common brand names Zip-A-Tone ( 1937, now defunct [Manufacturer-supplied first use date in [http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=71456830 USPTO application for Zip-A-Tone] ] ), Chart-Pak ( 1949[Manufacturer-supplied first use date in [http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=72055435 USPTO application for Chart-Pak] ] ), and Letratone ( 1966, from Letraset[Manufacturer-supplied first use date in [http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=72322600 USPTO application for Letratone] ] ).
A traditional screentone sheet consists of a flexible transparent backing, the printed texture, and a
wax adhesivelayer. The sheet is applied to the paper, adhesive down, and rubbed with a stylus on the backing side. The backing is then peeled off, leaving the inkadhered to the paper where pressure was applied.
A screentone saves an artist's time by allowing quick application of textures to
line artwhere a hand-shaded area would not be reproduced in a timely or acceptable manner. Much like halftone, the size and spacing of black dots, lines, or hatches determine how light or dark an area will appear. Visual artists need to take into account how much an image will be reduced when prepared for publication when choosing the pitch of a screentone. Screentones can also be layered to produce interference patterns such as moire effects, or to simulate multiple sources of shadow in an image.
Different styles of screentone exist, variously intended to depict clothing, clouds, emotions, backgrounds, gradients and even objects such as trees. While the sheets are most commonly produced with black ink, there are also varieties in solid and patterned colors. Screentones can also be modified by lightly scratching the backing with an
X-Actoblade to produce starbursts and other special effects.
Screentones are widely used by illustrators and artists, especially for
cartoons and advertising. Use of the original medium has been declining since the advent of graphics softwareand desktop publishing, but it is still used, for example, by some Japanese Mangaauthors (Deleter and Maxon are common names within this specialty).
While computer graphics software provides a variety of alternatives to screentone, its appearance is still frequently simulated, to achieve consistency with earlier work or avoid the stereotypical appearance of computer-generated images. It is sometimes accomplished by scanning actual screentone sheets, but original vector or bitmap screen patterns are also used.
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