Texture (visual arts)
In the visual arts, texture is the perceived surface quality of a work of art. It is an element of two-dimensional and three-dimensional designs and is distinguished by its perceived visual and physical properties. Use of texture, along with other elements of design, can convey a variety of messages and emotions.
Three varieties of texture
Physical texture, also known as actual texture or tactile texture, are the actual variations upon a surface. This can include, but is not limited to, fur, wood grain, sand, smooth surface of canvas or metal, glass, and leather. It differentiates itself from visual texture by having a physical quality that can be felt by touch. Specific use of a texture can affect the smoothness that an artwork conveys. For instance, use of rough surfaces can be visually active, whilst smooth surfaces can be visually restful. The use of both can give a sense of personality to a design, or utilized to create emphasis, rhythm, contrast, etc.
Light is an important factor for physical artwork, because it can affect how a surface is viewed. Strong lights on a smooth surface can obscure the readability of a drawing or photograph, whilst they can create strong contrasts in a highly textural surface such as river rocks and sand.
Visual texture is the illusion of having physical texture. Every material and every support surface has its own visual texture and needs to be taken into consideration before creating a composition. As such, materials such as canvas and watercolour paper are considerably rougher than, for example, photo-quality computer paper and may not be best suited to creating a flat, smooth texture. Photography, drawings and paintings use visual texture both to portray their own subject matter realistically and with interpretation. Texture in these media is generally created by the repetition of the shape and line.
Hypertexture can be defined as both the "realistic simulated surface texture produced by adding small distortions across the surface of an object" (as pioneered by Ken Perlin) and as an avenue for describing the fluid morphic nature of texture in the realm of cyber graphics and the tranversally responsive works created in the field of visual arts therein (as described by Lee Klein).
Examples of physical texture
Berlin Green Head, 500BC. Note the smooth texture and mood of the bust.
Examples of visual texture
Ralph's Diner, Ralph Goings, 1982. The actual physical texture of this painting is smooth, despite its visual textures.
- Composition (visual arts)
- Design elements and principles
- Elements of art
- Texture (painting)
- Texture (computer graphics)
- Gatto, Porter, and Selleck. Exploring Visual Design: The Elements and Principles. 3rd ed. Worcester: Davis Publications, Inc., 2000. ISBN 0-87192-379-3
- Stewart, Mary, Launching the imagination: a comprehensive guide to basic design. 2nd ed. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2006. ISBN 0-07-287061-3