When painting in Photoshop, I use textures quite a bit. I love when my paintings have texture to them, even though my style is not known for being textural. Textures are just another tool that you can use to make your work more interesting and visually appealing.
But sometimes, using Photoshop textures can get out of hand and you can take it too far. So here are some “do’s” and “don’ts” when using textures in your digital painting to help you create better work that is more compelling.
Do’s And Don’ts When Using Textures In Your Digital Painting
1. DO Use Texture Art To Make Your Work More Compelling
When I say compelling, I mean you want the viewer to look at your work and feel like they need to know more. If you can make someone’s eyes linger for a few more seconds on one of your paintings because of some hidden texture or technique that you used, then it will make them think long enough to keep looking. They will also appreciate that extra attention to detail and care that you put into your painting.
2. DON’T Use Too Many Textures In One Painting
I think that it is better to be subtle with the use of textures. You don’t want one texture overpowering another or your painting will lose harmony and become busy. Using too many textures can also be distracting, which takes away from what you are trying to portray with the painting.
3. DO Use Subtle Textures
Subtlety can go a long way when trying to add texture to your painting. You don’t want it to overpower what you are trying to say/convey, but just enough that it shines through and is appealing. Just remember to make a conscious effort of keeping textures subtle. It will result in a painting that is more harmonious and pleasing to the eye.
Check out subtle but effective textures on Creative Market.
4. DON’T Be Afraid To Experiment With Texture Definition
You don’t have to be afraid of using textures just because your style isn’t known for it. You can use anything for texture or try different things out to see what you like. I generally use filters, textures, and brushes to create my texture, but you can experiment with using objects like leaves or food.
5. DO Try To Use The Texture With What You Are Painting
Your painting should be the star of the show (most of the time), so try to use your textural elements as a supporting actor rather than the star. Try to use a texture that complements and enhances what you are painting, not distracts from it. I like to paint things with small details and then use textures after the fact. This helps to emphasize those fine details by contrasting them with a textural element.
6. DON’T Forget To Think About Lighting And Shadows
Just because you are using texture doesn’t mean that you can ignore lighting and shadows. You still need to think about where light is coming from and how it affects your painting. If you use textures, try to keep in mind what kind of lighting is on the object. This will help to create a more cohesive painting and add another layer of depth.
7. DO Consider The Texture Of Your Painting Material
If you are using the material for your background textures, then consider the texture of that material and how it will interact with what you are painting. You can also use more than one material or object for your textures. Sometimes I will use different objects to get the result that I want. For example, I may use a soil texture from a mud puddle and then paint some grass over the top to create the result.
8. DON’T Think That You Have To Use Textures In Every Painting
Not every painting needs a texture to work. Sometimes you can do what is called a “pure” abstract, which is an abstract that doesn’t use any realistic elements, such as textures. Or you can add texture in some paintings and keep others “pure”. It is best to experiment with what works for you and what doesn’t, so don’t be afraid to try new things.
9. DO Listen To Your Gut
When you know something is right for your painting, then go with it. It can be difficult to know when you are overdoing something, but if you listen to your gut and not what others say or think, then things will work out for the best. I have made some of my best paintings after listening to myself rather than others.
10. DON’T Fear Failure
If you aren’t afraid of trying something new and making a mistake, then you will be able to create a piece of art that is more authentic. I don’t think it matters if you make a painting better or worse by using textures, but what does matter is that the final product becomes more unique and original from your experiences/mistakes.
What is texture for? There are so many ways to use textures in your art, but remember that subtlety and consistency are key. If you keep these tips in mind when creating a texture for your painting, then you should be well on your way to making textures that work. Don’t forget to take time with what it is that you are trying to convey as this will dictate how you use your textures.