Adding Visual Texture

September 28, 2011

This piece by Adam Hancher for Tiny Showcase shows how a little texture and imperfection in the flat color makes it more interesting.

  What texture can do for you Texture in a print piece (or even for an on-screen experience, like a website or Powerpoint presentation) can add depth, personality, and an organic quality to something that might otherwise come off as flat and bland. Sometimes it's as subtle as adding a fabric weave pattern to the background or as up-front as an ink spatter. There are a lot of ways to employ texture depending on the way you want your poster, letterhead or brochure to be perceived. The first step to using texture is to find (or create) good sources that you can pull from. Lucky for you I happened to have found quite a few useful sites that might be of interest. Some good sources for raw materials So what follows is a list of photographic references for textured surfaces like concrete, brick, fabric and paper. Pulling a good photograph is only the first step in the process. You're going to have to take that photograph and process it into something you can use. We'll cover that in a minute. Now on to the raw materials. Texture King They're free. They're large high-resolution images. Not all of them are superuseful, but there are 22 pages to paw through, so you're bound to find something you can make use of.   Bitbox This is really an archive of many little groups of images, but they seem like high-quality stuff.   Fresh Textures Another site with small groups of high-quality images. It seems pretty new, so there's a limited selection.   Naldz Graphics OK, this one was especially exciting to me because I'm always looking for natural paper textures. I think I've hit the motherlode, and so have you.   Ready-to-use vectors Vectors mean that an image won't get pixelated as it's scaled up to a larger size. To turn a texture image into a vector graphic that you can import into any program is the end goal — and we'll get to that in a minute. You can also find or purchase vector textures online. You Work for Them I've told you about these guys for patterns and fonts too. They aren't free, but you shouldn't pass them up, because they have some really great packages for less than $40 that will save you time and look amazing.   If you're not finding what you like, make it yourself! If you're not finding the right texture out there, sometimes the most satisfying thing to do is get yourself some ink and make drip and spatters or walk outside and find the perfect sidewalk crack. You'll need a good camera that takes clear pictures (your iPhone does not count), and then you're going to take that image and turn it into a vector graphic. How, you ask? Here are a couple of good tutorials that walk you through the process of turning the raw materials of texture photography into a vector image that you can scale to any size you like. The general gist is that you'll make the image high-contrast in Photoshop and then place it in Illustrator to do a livetrace of the shapes.   What to do with it once you've got it Sometimes it takes some experimentation, but you can bend textures to your will, and the results can sometimes take something that's just nice and make it compelling.

The branding for Swallowed Sun Brewing Co. by Riley Cran gains a little depth by using a textutred concrete background.


This poster by Matthew Hollister employs a few different textures. Here they're all hand-drawn, but you can acheive something similar by masking shapes out of vector textures.

Rosie's picture

About Rosana Mojica

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:22 am #

[...] how you can add high quality textures for your postcard flyer [...]

Leave a Reply

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

What is the PsPrint Blog??

The PsPrint Blog is a resource for graphic designers, freelancers, small business owners and fans of print marketing. You'll find helpful techniques on printing everything there is to print, including business cards, postcards, brochures, stickers, invitations, greeting cards, door hangers, magnets and more. The PsPrint Blog shares creative ways to improve your design and layout skills, and useful tips for marketing your business in any medium. We also like to have a little fun, sharing design inspiration and spotlighting some our favorite customers' printed pieces in our "Hot Off the Press" series.