2017 Design Challenge: February Textures


I have been hard at work (or play, maybe?) with this month’s design challenge: Textures. My assignment was to collect a variety of textures to build my own texture library. To be completely honest, I was not enthusiastic about this. I am impatient about creating and usually dive into a project without a plan, so building a collection without using it right away felt like torture. This was the boring assignment in my list and I could not wait to get it out of the way. Surprisingly, halfway through the month, I really started to get into making textures.

Why Textures?

I chose to build a texture library because 1. Textures are valuable elements in many graphic designs. 2. Realistic textures are hard to replicate in software, and 3. I want my work to be 100% mine. There are many sources for free textures, but I always prefer to use my own sources first. Not to mention, keeping track of and following license permissions and copyrights is difficult.


The Process

I approached gathering textures three ways: Scanning, photographing, and making my own. For the textures I scanned, I used fabrics, papers, and even my college diploma… I might as well use it, amiright?! These materials had even and consistent textures that work well for overlaying on a background.

Next, I used my camera, mostly to snap images of concrete. Pretty simple and straightforward. Click. Done. Click. Done. *yawn*. At this point, I was feeling ready to drop this assignment and move on to the next one. Sure, I had a nice assortment of concrete and grass now… but they are not textures I use in my personal style. Grunge much?


Getting Inky With It

Finally, I attempted making ink textures and found a new love at the same time. For one thing, it allowed me to be hands-on and just go at it to see what would happen… my preferred  approach! For another thing, I discovered ink texture is very applicable with my design style (see the images below). I had a major light bulb moment when I realized that I could combine a handmade element with my software made images without compromising the neat and tidy, flat designs I love to make. Now, you might say that should have been obvious to me from the start, but I had boxed myself out of using my physical art based on the fact that I cannot sketch or paint illustrations. I have always been much better at building illustrations in software. However, there is no artistic skill needed to stamp, smear, smudge, streak, or stipple ink onto paper! *a heavenly choir sings* In case you missed it, you can watch my ink texture process here: Making Ink Textures.



As far as the technical details and steps, using a digital texture is a pretty basic, especially when using a photograph: pick your image, layer it over your design, then play with blending modes. However, to really take advantage of all the tiny specs and grainy details created from ink, I needed a way lift only the black and completely remove all the white from the paper, plus I wanted to be able to change the ink into any color I wanted. This forced me to learn how to use Channels in Photoshop. Assignment bonus: I learned something new!

I am glad I stuck with the assignment and experienced some design revelations and learned to use a new technique. That is what this design challenge is all about!

March’s Assignment

My next assignment for March will be Logo Design, which will be even more fun now that I have several ink textures in my library! Be sure to follow along on INSTAGRAM for challenge updates plus I will be asking my followers to help me!


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