What Is Texture in Graphic Design?

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Texture can refer to the actual surface of a design or to the visual appearance of a design. In the first case, the audience can actually feel the texture, making it unique from the other elements of design. Selection of paper and materials in package design can affect actual texture. In the second case, texture is implied through the style of design. Rich, layered graphics can create a visual texture that mirrors actual texture.

Actual Texture

While most elements of design such as color and type are simply seen by the audience, people can actually feel the texture. The most common instance of this is with paper. The feel and weight of paper can significantly impact the perception of a design, making the designer’s selection a crucial decision. Business cards or brochures on a heavy weight paper may be seen as more professional than those on a lighter weight. A promotional piece on newsprint may cost less, but also bring about the desired feel of a grassroots campaign. The budget comes into play here as high-quality paper can greatly increase the cost of a project, so it is important to find the balance between cost and the image you are trying to achieve.

The texture is also a key element in packaging. The feel and weight of the metal, plastic, glass and other materials that make up packages affect the consumer’s opinion of a product.

Visual Texture

Texture can also be simulated through the style of a design. Layers of text, shapes, and lines can bring about the feeling of texture on a page or on screen. Photography, illustration and fine art combined with graphic elements can also help to achieve the appearance of texture. Commonly, photographs of an actual surface such as paper are used as backgrounds in a design.

Modern design software such as Photoshop makes experimenting with layers and visual texture easy.