Types of Texture

There are four types of texture in art. These types are best understood as a set of pairs.

Actual vs. Implied – Actual texture is touchable. It’s real. Think about a drawing that makes use of collage. The collaged element would stand in relief against the supporting paper, giving the artwork a texture you can both see and feel. Implied texture is the illusion of a textured surface created through changes in value using mark-making.

Invented vs. Simulated – Invented and simulated texture are really two sub-types of the implied texture mention above. Both create an illusion of texture so the difference is slight. Simulated texture attempts to copy the nuance of a surface as exactly as possible. Invented texture is typically a simplification of sorts, still communicating the essence of a texture or pattern.


To make a rubbing you will need a thin sheet of paper (copy paper works great), a soft drawing medium (charcoal or ebony pencils are perfect) and a rough surface (bricks, a basket or tree bark work well).

1. Lay your paper on the textured surface. Use tape to hold your paper if the surface is vertical.

2. Using the side of your drawing tool (not the tip) make side-to-side strokes across your paper. Try to keep the strokes together and avoid any gaps.

3. Start with light pressure. If the marks are not apparent enough then increase pressure gradually until the texture begins to appear. Too much pressure may actually obscure the texture you intend to capture.

4. Experiment with layering textures on top of each other or changing the direction of paper to overlay texture

5. Use texture to create a sphere shape [think value and texture change

6. Use your pencil to redraw some of these textures

Drawing Texture

Drawing texture boils down to mark-making and edge quality (hardness and softness of a contour). If you make the same type of marks with your drawing tools you will get the same texture over and over. Each unique texture requires a unique mark. Compare the surface texture of the five spheres.

Spheres 1,2 and 4 appear smooth because there are few gaps of raw paper showing through the pencil strokes. These three spheres are different types of smooth textures due to edge quality. Spheres 1 and 2 feel hard because their edges are sharp. Sphere 4 feels soft because it’s edge is irregular and made with loose marks.

While both spheres 1 and 2 feel hard, one seems to have a matte surface and the other a shiny/reflective surface. It is the sharp shapes and highlights within the shape of sphere 2 that create that impression of a reflective surface.

Spheres 3 and 5 are obviously more roughly textured than 1,2 and 4. Though neither are smooth, 3 feels soft next to 5, again, because of the looser edge quality. Sphere 3 is made of lines while sphere 5 is rendered with little dark shapes.

Both of the rough spheres demonstrate how a mingling of light and dark create the impression of texture. Note that, except for the reflective ball, the spheres all demonstrate a clearly defined light source, creating an even change from light to dark. Value and form must always dominate texture.

ACTIVITY: drawing Texture

trace a series of small circles on your page and render each sphere into a "texture" ball like the pictures here. At a minimum you should attempt to recreate

  • short/long fur

  • feather

  • alligator or elephant skin

  • rough rock

think about what animal you may like to do and attempt their body covering texture


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