Introduction to Texture

I think there is a certain charm to the hand drawn image that I like. My problem with CGI is that it’s so rich in texture that my eyes actually get tired. Everything is in focus down to the littlest leaf. -Matt Groening

Texture may seem like an easy concept, and on the surface it really is. If you are planning on becoming an illustrator of any sort, creating texture in digital media will be a vital skill. Especially if you’re going into game design. For fine artists, texture is still important since depicting textures realistically is a skill that some artists never develop.

You’ll know that you’ve found an artist who has mastered texture because you will be able to imagine touching something  immediately and the sensation of what it’s like to touch a thing will come immediately to mind.


Meret Oppenheim’s “Object” Paris, 1936. Fur-covered cup, saucer, and spoon, via Sophia.org

There are two kinds of texture that we’re interested in for this week: real texture and implied texture. Real texture is created in 2D art when paint, scratches, textured mediums, paper, or other items come up off of the surface and create a real, physically touchable textured surface. Some artists like to work in the strange space where 2D design becomes 3D design. We touched on this concept a little when we talked about the idea of “surface.”

Implied texture emerges in digital both digital and plastic arts (i.e. paintings) when the artist doesn’t change the surface of the image at all, but instead uses tricks of 3D perspective to create the suggestion of texture. You can see examples of each of these as you progress through the lesson this week.

Learning Objectives

  1. Familiarize yourself with the concept of texture in art and to what ends artists use it.  
  2. Show that you can  identify works with texture as a predominant theme in both digital and plastic arts.
  3. Create your own work that demonstrates  use of a texture in a creative way.  
  4. Use Photoshop or Illustrator to modify another artist’s image to remove or add texture.

Additional Resources

A magnificent database of imgaes from Smarthistory.org

Texture on Sophia.org

Tons of Pinterest Pins on texture. Don’t repin the same stuff your classmates pin! Only pin things you find intriguing or instructive.

A great article on “Texture in Graphic Design


“I think we love bacon because it has all the qualities of an amazing sensory experience. When we cook it, the sizzling sound is so appetizing, the aroma is maddening, the crunch of the texture is so gratifying and the taste delivers every time.”

–Alexandra Guarnaschelli

Ok, which one of you  didn’t  for a moment imagine the texture of biting into a crispy piece of bacon? Texture is a very powerful sensation because it harnesses the body’s largest organ, the skin. Texture is as powerful in the visual arts as it is in the narrative arts. Anyone who has played video games over the last 10 years can tell you that the  evolution of texture has increased the sense of immersion into a game.

Implied texture can evoke strong memories, and visible, real texture can make you want to reach out and touch a work of art. Real texture can make you highly aware that you’re  looking at art rather than having an everyday experience just looking at shampoo bottles on the grocery store shelf. Some artists use texture to evoke a sense of danger and menace while others use it to make us feel warm and comfortable.

Take a look at some of the examples on the right and pay attention to the way that each texture makes you feel as a viewer.

Monica Rezman, “Hair Piece 14”  (This is a drawing by the way, not a photograph.)

Detail of a self portrait by Van Gogh. Van Gogh’s technique is often referred to “impasto”.

Collaborative project for a skin care advertising promotion.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s  Light Iris. I debated adding this image. There is a “softness” to O’Keeffe’s work, but is it really “texture” that’s being depicted or something else?

Ideas and Inspiration

KQED: Texture

Short video on texture in art.

Adonna Khare

This artist is pretty amazing. She depicts animals quite often and what she does with fur is powerful.

Pattern and Texture

Pretty good series here with a very engaging host. A very British perspective on the matter of design, specifically interior design.

Technical Know How

You’ll need to watch the following videos to understand how to use Photoshop to complete your assignments this week. I’ve started a few YouTube playlists where you can find these videos and more.

Applying a Realistic Texture in Photoshop

Simple and effective technique. I recommend trying this one. It’s fast, so plan on a lot of pausing and rewinding.

Drawing Fundamentals in Photoshop

Good combo of drawing fundamentals and Photoshop tips here.

Using a Pallette Knife to to Create Texture

Thgough this is a digital design course, it’s worth it to show some of the techniques used in the plastic arts.

Make a Photograph Look Like a Painting

Adding texture to a photograph can make it look like a realistic painting.



This week, find images that exemplify the concept of “texture”.  You must link to the original source (as original as you can find) for each pin and you should provide context and an explanation of why you think each image is illustrative of this  week’s concept. Put this explanation in the notes field of each pin. 1-2 sentences will suffice. The original artist must be identified.

Choose images that reveal both real and implied texture.

⊕ For this week, create a Pinterest  Board called “Texture” and add 20 images to that board using the guidelines above. Submit your link in the form below.

Share and Discuss

Make sure you’re getting into Slack to talk with your classmates.  

Emulate and Create


I’m hoping that I can challenge all of you to emulate the exercise in the video above on the left “Applying a Realistic Texture in Photoshop” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JkW31rsly0). I’m going to provide some textures here as well as the signs or logos (you can also create your own), but this is such a useful exercise that I think each of you should try it.

Below  is a link to one of my Google Drive folders containing a number of files. You can use any of the images you find there for the purposes of this exercise. IMPORTANT WARNING: Please don’t move items out of the Drive folder. Right click on an item you want to use and then select “Download” instead. If you remove anything from this folder, the item will disappear for everyone.  


Please, please, please, let me know if you run into trouble!

*Alternate Assignment: Determine the best way to create a logo overlay on a brick wall or wood fence in a way that looks realistic. You may have to research YouTube and other resources to determine how to best do this.  


Choose one of the following:

1.  Make a plastic (real) piece of art that depicts either real or implied texture and upload a digital image of the art.

2.  Create a digital work that displays implied texture as a major feature and upload the file.