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6.4. Halftones

Halftoning is a process by which continuous-tone colors are approximated on an output device that can achieve only a limited number of discrete colors. Colors that the device cannot produce directly are simulated by using patterns of pixels in the colors available. Perhaps the most familiar example is the rendering of gray tones with black and white pixels, as in a newspaper photograph.

Some output devices can reproduce continuous-tone colors directly. Halftoning is not required for such devices; after gamma correction by the transfer functions, the color components are transmitted directly to the device. On devices that do require halftoning, it occurs after all color components have been transformed by the applicable transfer functions. The input to the halftone function consists of continuous-tone, gamma-corrected color components in the device's native color space. Its output consists of pixels in colors the device can reproduce.


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