Artists use general guidelines when trying to create high-quality artwork. The precepts for these guidelines include five elements of art. That list includes texture. Texture shows up in many types of artwork and helps with the quality of the piece. Artists create texture to give the viewer an idea of what they want to convey. The art world describes four types of texture.
Texture gives the audience an idea of how the art might feel if they touched it. Artists use texture to connect the audience to the artwork in some way. It can trigger memories that elicit a strong emotional response — the feel of a childhood blanket; or it can incite a gut-wrenching fear — the feel of a spider’s body. Artists use different types of texture depending on the artwork and the message they want to convey.
Artists often add real-world textures to their artwork. They use tree bark or sandpaper to illustrate an idea or concept. Artists call these "actual textures." Actual textures give the artwork a natural feel; artists use them to convey an organic or earthy tone. Actual textures show up in many different types of artwork, but artists often use them in collage and papier colle, an alternate form of collage. Other types of actual textures include cotton, fur and wood.
Simulated textures imply the look of a real object through skillful rendering. Artists opt for simulated textures when actual textures are not practical. These textures show up in many different forms of art including drawings, paintings and computer graphics. Some artists create simulated textures so well they deceive the viewer into believing it is the real object. Artists call this “Trompe l’oeil” or, in English, “tricks the eye.”
Textures of Invention
Artists often employ unseen and original textures to suit a specific artwork or style. They call these new types of textures "invented textures." Invented textures encompass any texture not found in the real world. Artists use many different techniques to create invented textures including shapes, lines and patterns. You can find invented textures in almost every form of art from pencil drawings to abstract sculptures.
Abstract textures mimic the surface of an object. Stylistically, they fall between simulated textures and invented textures. Artists incorporate the techniques of their mediums to imply the texture of an object, but in an unusual way. They simplify the texture to its most basic form, often representing it using only lines and shapes. This type of texture shows up in most forms of art.