Graphic Design

Common Mistakes When Using Textures In Your Artwork

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Art can be made using many different mediums. I know artists who like to draw with pencil on paper, some like to paint with watercolors, and yet others prefer to work digitally, but there are some mistakes you will almost always see in any artwork created by someone less experienced than another artist. And one of those mistakes is using textures in the wrong way.

What is texture? Textures are an essential part of any artwork, so you can’t avoid using them. It matters how exactly you use them though.

The following list contains mistakes that many beginner artists make when they start working with texture art for the first time:

Using only 1 or 2 Photoshop textures in their works.

You should always try to use different textures (not more than 3 or 4, though) to make the work look less flat. If you use only 1 kind of texture in your artwork it will look like an oil painting – everything will be smooth and the whole work will lack any depth.

Textures that don’t match with each other (that is, some textures are too rough, while others are too smooth).

If you want to use many textures in your artwork, they should go together. For example, a very smooth texture would not match with a very rough one. Mixing all kinds of textures in one picture will lead to a flat and messy result which will look like unfinished work.

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Using too many textures.

It’s better to use a few good textures in your work, than a lot of average ones. Adding several textures will make them lose their importance and can even harm the picture with some ugly effects that will be visible to the viewer.

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Using only digital or only hand-made or scanned textures.

If you use only digital or hand-made textures, then it will be very obvious that your work was created by a computer. Try to combine different kinds of textures to make the work more natural and realistic. For example, it would be nice to have an old paper texture definition combined with crackle paint for some old books or a concrete wall combined with worn metal for old doors.

Using textures that are too small, blurry, or low in resolution.

Textures lose their effect when they are too small in the picture, so it’s better to resize them before using them in your artwork. Also, if you use low-resolution textures, then after resizing they will look too blurry – because smaller details are lost.

Using 3D textures for 2D artwork.

As you can see, I used “3D textures” in inverted commas, but that’s because this term is misunderstood very often. So here’s the thing: if your texture looks like a surface – it’s probably 2D (if you can’t see through it), and if it looks like a volume – then it’s probably 3D. So, don’t use 3D textures in your 2D artwork! It will look very strange and fake (the same is true for using photo-references: don’t ever try to insert a human head into an animal picture).

Using textures in their original size.

You should always resize your textures before using them. That’s because when you use the original size of the texture, it will look very small in comparison to your artwork – and that is not what you want.

Not saving and resizing their textures properly.

If you simply open a texture file and save it as another file, your image will lose its quality. That is because the program you use to open and save the texture doesn’t know how to use all available pixels. You should always resize and resave your textures so that they look good even after resizing (you can do it using any graphic editor).

Using textures in place of colors.

Textures are not colors – they are images that should be used to create the impression of a certain material or surface. You can’t paint a whole picture with textures, because it will look flat and fake (and there’s no sense in doing something like that).

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Using Photoshop filters for adding textures to their pictures.

When working in Photoshop, use the “Filter” menu for adding simple textures (such as clouds or wood), but don’t make this your primary method of texturing – it’s better to use real background textures instead. Using filters is good only for small adjustments and cloning out some things, not for large-scale work on the whole picture.


Now you are aware of the most common mistakes when using textures in your artwork, so hopefully, it will be easier for you to avoid them. The main purpose of using textures is to make the artwork look more realistic – and only if you use them properly, you will achieve this!

It’s also worth mentioning that these rules are for Photoshop users, but I think that the major part of them applies to other graphic programs as well.



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