Screening is an efficient halftoning algorithm that is easy to implement. With multilevel devices, there is a potential to improve the overall image quality by using multilevel screening, which allows us to choose among multiple native tones at each addressable pixel. We propose a methodology for multilevel screen design using direct binary search (DBS). We refer to one period of the screen as a multitone cell. We define a multitone schedule, which for each absorptance level specifies the fraction of each native tone used in the multitone cell. Traditional multitoning uses only one native tone in smooth areas corresponding to absorptance values near the native tones, an approach that introduces contouring artifacts. To reduce contouring, we employ schedules that use more than one native tone at each absorptance level. On the basis of the multitone schedule, multitone patterns are designed level by level by adding native tones under the stacking constraint. At each level the spatial arrangement of the native tones is determined by a modified DBS search. We explore several different multitone schedules that illustrate the image-quality trade-offs in multitone screen design.
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