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Elements of Art 2: Texture

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

Last week we learned all about Line in art. For this week, we’ll be continuing to go through the Elements of Art. In this post we'll be using what we learned last week with line, along with some new concepts to talk about texture. This one might be a little shorter than usual, just because I think it's pretty straightforward as far as a concept to grasp and how it can be used in visual art. However, while it can be straightforward to understand, accomplishing it definitely takes some practice and skill.


Texture

Texture in visual art, for our purposes, is how we make 2-dimensional objects appear to have a certain feel to them. This is the way artists appeal to a person's sense of touch while the viewer is not necessarily able to physically touch the drawing or painting. This is the really important part of what makes texture so great in art. We're engaging one sense (sight) while giving the impression of another (touch). And, although I'm only going to be focusing on the 2D scope of visual art, there are other was this can be done through 3-dimensional artwork such as sculpture.


The basics of texture mainly come from what sort of "touch" stimulation you want your audience to perceive in your art. For example, if the subject you want to draw is a cat, then you would want your audience to perceive a "furry" texture in your drawing. The way go about doing this comes from observing objects with a given texture and practicing transferring that texture into a 2D form. In the most basic sense, however, creating texture is achieved through understanding the way light is reflected off of a given surface.


Of course, we can create different textures by using what we learned about line. Different strokes of a pen or pencil can make the observer perceive different textures. I've done an example below of how this can be accomplished with basic shapes.




Another way we can use texture is through different brush strokes. In painting, (both digitally and traditionally) different types of brush strokes can create the illusion of touch. Having more smooth brush strokes creates a smooth texture, while having more jagged and rough ones creates a rough texture.




Lighting plays a big role in creating texture. We will talk about this more when we move on to the elements of Shape & Form. But, for now, just know that essentially, the way light bounces off of a surface is texture. By using what we know about lighting with texture, we can make surfaces appear to have various textures. We can do this simply by putting marks where the shadows on a surface might be. I've given an example below of how to do this with an image of a rocky texture.


Although I've taken a textured image and drawn over it, you don't always have to use this way to create different textures, but it is helpful for starting out. What you should grasp from this idea though, is that by just placing lines where the light and shadow of an object meet, we can create a certain texture.


Exercise

For our exercise this week, let's try to create different examples of texture with different shapes. You can use whatever kind of shape you like, but try and come up with several ideas of types of texture you want to make. Some examples are fuzzy, soft, hard, sharp, bumpy, etc. I've done some examples below, but you can make your own as well if you like.


[I used a larger marker tool on this one to kind of exaggerate the line usage]


Weekly Challenge

For this week's weekly challenge, we'll try using the things in our environment to help us experiment with our art. Taking a few minutes in your day, look around your house and try to discover objects with varying types of texture. Any amount of objects will do, but at least 3 will do. You can either photograph them or take them to the place where you create your art. Be sure to really feel them in your hands and think about what type of texture this will look like on paper.


Next, recreate these textures on your drawing pad or paper. You can copy the object directly or just the texture itself. Don't forget that practice makes perfect, so coming back and doing it more than one day a week will help you improve.


Next Week

For next week we'll be moving on to the elements of Shape & Form. I've decided to combine these elements because they really play off of each other and I wasn't sure one would be enough for an entire post.


As always, you can follow me on twitter, instagram, and facebook and let me know what you think about these posts. Also, I'd love to see what you come up with through these exercises and challenges so feel free to post them and tag me! :)


Until next week...


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