What Is the Difference Between Texture and Pattern?

By Jennifer Holmes
Texture is implied through the folds and shadows of this tablecloth while pattern is created on the vase and squash.

Differences between texture and pattern can be described in different ways through different mediums in the art world. In our everyday lives, texture would refer to the sense of touch while pattern is more a visual recognition of a series of lines and curves in a design that repeat themselves. In visual art, texture is seen through shading techniques in a drawing or painting that visually represents how something would feel if you could put your hand on it.

Texture

Soft velvet texture implied by the way the material folds and how the light reflects on the peaks, valleys and cloth grain.

As children, we learn about what is around us by touching and looking. As we grow older, we know what something feels like because we have touched and studied it enough over time. We can look at an oil painting by a master and see texture indicated in the application of shading and light. With clothing materials, we know how velvet feels - soft and plush - and how it drapes into folds. Texture can describe a pattern design in a drawing through added shading.

Pattern

A structured pattern.

Pattern is a design we can see on objects in paintings and drawings. All pattern is made of lines and curves arranged in some fashion, whether random or consistent. Even the lack of pattern is a pattern. It is consistently nonexistent. A pattern can also be so consistent as to blind the vision with its uniformity.

Pattern and Texture Used Together

This painting shows a woven pattern in background material while the texture implies roughness by random shading.

In a painting or drawing, you can enhance a pattern to be more visually interesting by adding contrast techniques which gives the picture better textural qualities. The pattern in this painting implies cloth as the background because of the weave uniformity. Yet texture is implied by random-colored shading to the cloth to represent roughness or age to the material.

Texture and Pattern in One Color

The pattern is consistently random and texture is implied with shading and highlights.

This painting is in one basic color and the pattern is consistently random. The texture is provided with the darker shading in the same red family. As red is considered a warm color, warmth comes through in the highlights. The shading gives a cooler texture and a sense of depth, rather like hills and valleys.

About the Author

Jennifer Holmes, owner of Creative Writing Service since 1996, has published in several nationwide trade magazines and local newspapers. A 1995 graduate of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, emphasis in history and interior design, her business background is in market analysis, kitchen and bath design and the classical arts.