Creating and using a texture library

Tory Van Wey

Texture, when used correctly, can take a good design and push it over the edge into DANG good. Texture adds a level of visual interest to a design that may otherwise fall a little flat (literally!). And, let’s face it…

The problem with texture is that so many people’s first instinct is to go online and search for a vector pack containing the desired texture. There is nothing wrong with existing textures from the internet, but some of them are overused or look a little fake. You could also fall into legal hot water if you don’t read the fine print on the license.

So next time you want to add some texture to your design, ditch the search bar and try using your own environment as a toolbox – it’s actually really easy. All you need is a camera (or a camera phone), and your designer’s eye. I took my camera phone for a 20 minute walk around our office in San Francisco and snapped a variety of textures.

Here are a few of my favorites:



Your texture library

Once you get home and load your images onto your computer give each photo a keyword title (such as grunge, brick, grass, tile, paint, etc.) and save it to a folder on your computer called “Texture Library”.

Once you start collecting images you’ll find that you will keep an eye out for interesting textures without even thinking about it. You can add to this library over time and when you need a certain texture, just do a keyword search.

Then what?

Start working these textures into your designs. Vectorize them in Adobe Illustrator using the image trace panel. Add them to a logo to give it a vintage feel or incorporate a concept appropriate texture into a wordmark.

Use the photographs as a background for a book cover, poster, or other photography based design. Layer them on top of each other to create new textures. Here are a few simple logos I made using the photographs I took around the office:


The possibilities are endless and the best thing is that you personalize your designs in a way that is completely unique to you and your surroundings.

How do you use texture in your design? Show us in the comments!

The author

Tory Van Wey
Tory Van Wey

Tory is a part of the Community Team at 99designs. She was raised in Palo Alto, California and has a degree in Graphic Design from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. When she isn't working she's probably out of cell phone range in the wilderness, or sipping a local brew. Ideally both.

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