Thinking of making a comic book out of your artwork or photos? Maybe you’d like to make a calendar with a gritty vibe? With minimal effort, you can approximate the print style of old comic books. These steps are for Adobe Photoshop CS5, but they’re similar for earlier versions.

1. Open your photograph or artwork in Photoshop CS5. (Always make a backup of your original.) The image can start out at any size; however, once you’ve applied the technique, you can downsize the image.

2. Choose Layer > Duplicate Layer. Under Destination, choose New and then enter a name (such as ‘Halftone’). This creates a duplicate of your image in a new document, which automatically becomes the foremost window.

3. Choose Image > Mode > Grayscale, and confirm that you want to discard colour information by clicking Discard.

4. Choose Image > Mode > Bitmap, and set the output resolution and the conversion method. Enter an output resolution that’s four times the input resolution (so if the input is 72 pixels per inch enter ‘288’.) Choose Halftone Screen from the Method pop-up menu, and then click OK.

5. You must now configure the halftone screen. The frequency determines the number of halftone lines (or, in this case, dots) you’ll have per inch. It can take some trial and error to get it just right, so to start, enter ‘6’. Now specify an angle of 60?, choose Round from the Shape pop-up menu, and click OK. If the dots seem too tiny, redo the conversion with a lower frequency; if the dots seem too large, try again with a higher frequency. Choose Edit > Undo Bitmap and then Image > Mode > Bitmap to redo the conversion until you’re happy.

6. Now you need to convert the bitmapped image back to greyscale. Choose Image > Mode > Grayscale and enter a Size Ratio of 4. (Recall that you increased the dimensions by four times earlier on; now, you’ll reduce it to the picture’s original dimensions. This process gives the halftone print a pattern of soft, anti-aliased edges.

7. Choose Layer > Duplicate Layer. Enter ‘Comic Overlay’ as the layer name and then, under Destination, choose the original image from the Document pop-up menu. Click OK to continue.

8. Return to your original document by clicking its tab. The black-and-white halftone will be obscuring the original image, but you can fix that. Choose Window > Layers (if necessary) to view the Layers panel. Click the layer called Comic Overlay to select it (if it isn’t already selected), and then choose Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options. Under General Blending, choose Soft Light. Instantly, the colour will return to your photo and it will have that comic book look and feel. Click OK to continue.

9. You can now fine-tune the look of your image. You can lessen the effect by adjusting the layer opacity, which you can do in either the top-right of the Layers panel or via Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options.

Alternatively, you can soften the entire effect by blurring the halftone layer. With Comic Overlay selected, choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, enter a value between 2.0 and 5.0, and then click OK.

That’s it. Once you’ve found just the right look for your photo, flatten the image by choosing Layer > Flatten Image. Save your file and pop it into your iPhoto calendar or a comic book you’re creating with Plasq’s Comic Life (£11.99 from the App Store, www.plasq.com).