How to create an extruded halftone effect in illustrator or photoshop

I saw this photo on Smashing Magazine:

Portrait of Alfred Nobel by Viktor Hertz

Portrait of Alfred Nobel by Viktor Hertz

And I was wondering how I can make a similar effect with the halftones extruding into 3D like it is shown. I don’t have access to Photoshop Extended, so was trying to create the effect in Illustrator with the 3D effect with no avail.

Anyone know how this is done?


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Method 1

Ok, so I figured out one way to do this effect.

I started with the original photo in Photoshop (I used the Wikimedia photo of Alan Turing)
Alan Turing

I then adjusted the contrast and levels to make the photo more dramatic for the halftoning effect later:
Adjusted Contrast

I added a Gaussian blur (about 5 pixels) to the photo and saved it to be placed into illustrator. Remember fo make the picture Greyscale so you only get one color halftone:
Gaussian Blur

Once in Illustrator, I added the color halftone effect (Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone) to the photo with these settings:
Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone

Halftone settings

Once I adjusted the settings to be what I wanted them to be, I had this image:
Halftone Effect

I went to the Image Trace menu (Object > Image Trace) and used these settings:
Image Trace Settings

The halftone is still a little off, but it’s because I wasn’t using a high resolution image, I think.

Once the image got expanded, I ungrouped it and then cleaned up the dots a little bit and had this to work with:

Expanded Image

I shrink this group to about a 10th of the size in the middle of the screen and then pasted a copy in the front (Ctrl + C, Ctrl + F)
Shrunk Image

I then resized the copy to be the original size and selected both of the groups in the layers panel:
Select both groups

I then went to the blend options (Object > Blend > Blend options)
Blend Options Selection

I would normally use a smooth color, but this always resulted in only 1 step being made, so instead, I used the specified steps option and put 200 steps for an attempted smooth color.
Blend Options

That gave me this after a few seconds for the processor to think
Blended groups

After that, I was able to convert the object colors back to CMYK or RGB and change the colors

With some more fooling around, I ended up with my final piece which I think resembles what I was going for nicely:
Final piece

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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