Creating interesting textures can sometimes be a difficult and annoying task, especially if you don’t know exactly where to start.
Since I’ve been there, I wanted to help you out by putting together this Illustrator texture tutorial which will show you three different methods that are easy to learn and master. So, if that sounds interesting, join me as we learn how to create a simple decorative vase and use textures to bring it to life.
If you find yourself strapped for time and you need ready-to-use Adobe Illustrator textures, we've got you covered as well. Scroll down after this Illustrator texture tutorial to find some top Illustrator texture overlays from Envato Elements, just like the one below.
Looking to add vector textures to your artwork? Head on over to our article on the best free vector textures the web has to offer.
Watch How to Add Texture in Illustrator
Do you prefer to watch video tutorials? Here you can watch how to apply texture in Illustrator and more tips. If you like this content, follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:
What You'll Learn in This Illustrator Texture Tutorial
- How to set up a new project file
- How to set up the layers
- How to create the background
- How to create the vase
- How to add texture in Illustrator using the grain effect
- How to make textures in Illustrator using a custom stipple brush
- How to make textures in Illustrator using pattern swatches
1. How to Set Up a New Project File
Let's start this Illustrator texture overlay tutorial with the basics. Kick off the project by opening Illustrator and setting up a New Document by going to File > New (or Control-N), which we will adjust as follows:
- Number of Artboards: 1
- Width: 1200 px
- Height: 600 px
- Units: Pixels
And from the Advanced tab:
- Color Mode: RGB
- Raster Effects: Screen (72ppi)
- Preview Mode: Default
2. How to Set Up the Layers
Once we’ve created our new document, we’ll want to layer it so that we can separate our vases (that we’ll use as support for the different textures) from the background.
So open up the Layers panel and create a total of two layers, which we will rename as follows:
- layer 1: background
- layer 2: vases
3. How to Create the Background
Before creating custom vector textures in Illustrator, we'll make a simple background. So make sure you position yourself onto the first layer, and let’s jump straight into it!
Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1200 x 600 px rectangle, which we will color using
#FF8269 and then align to the center of the underlying Artboard using the Align panel’s Horizontal and Vertical Align Center options, making sure that the alignment is made to the Artboard.
With the background in place, we can now lock the current layer and move on to the next one, where we will start working on our little vases.
4. How to Create the Vase
Assuming you’ve already positioned yourself on the second layer, let’s start working on the actual decorative vessels that we are going to display our textures on.
Start by creating the lower section of the vase’s body using a 128 x 128 px circle, which we will color using
#FFE7C5 and then center align to the larger Artboard, positioning it 178 px from its bottom edge.
Add the main shape for the neck section using a 24 x 88 px rectangle (
#FFE7C5) and the base using a 48 x 8 px rounded rectangle (
#FFE7C5), which we will position as seen in the reference image.
Open up the path of the circle's upper half and the rectangle's bottom one, uniting them into a single larger shape using the Control-J keyboard shortcut, making sure to adjust the transition between the neck section and the lower body as seen in the reference image.
Take a couple of moments and quickly decorate the vase using
#2A323D for its darker sections and
#FFE7C5 for its lighter ones, making sure to mask them where needed (desired shapes selected > right click > Make Clipping Mask). Once you're done, select and group all its composing shapes using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, before moving on to the next step.
Once we’ve finished working on the vase, we can now add the foreground line using a 160 px wide, 2 px thick Stroke line (
#2A323D). After grouping (Control-G) the two together, add the remaining instances (Control-C > Control-F twice) which we will position at a distance of 160 px from the original.
So at this point, we’ve pretty much finished working on our blank canvases (the vases) which means we can now move on to the part that most of you are interested in, and see how we can add textures to them using three different methods.
5. How to Add a Grainy Texture in Illustrator Using the Grain Effect
For the first method, we'll learn how to add a grainy texture in Illustrator. We'll do it with my personal favorite: the Grain Effect, which is actually derived from Photoshop.
Position yourself onto the first vase (that would be the left one), and then using the Direct Selection Tool (A) select the shapes for its body and base, which we will copy (Control-C) and then paste in front (Control-F) where they will be used as a Clipping Mask.
Since we want the two shapes to behave as a single larger one, we’ll have to turn them into a Compound Shape by going over to Pathfinder’s advanced menu and then clicking on the Make Compound Shape option.
Next, we’ll want to apply a linear gradient to the Compound Shape, setting the color of the left stop to white (
#FFFFFF) and that of the right one to the same value used for our darker sections (
Once we’ve applied the gradient, we can add the grain texture by going to Effect > Photoshop Effects > Texture > Grain, where we will want to set the Grain Type to Stippled and then adjust the Intensity and Contrast levels until we get an interesting result. In my case, I went with a value of 40 for the Intensity and 50 for the Contrast, which gives me a heavy enough texture to work with.
Depending on the result, you can adjust the position of the texture by opening up the Gradient panel and then dragging the top slider either to the left to add more details or to the right to remove them. Another thing that you should always remember to do is set the Opacity level of the lighter color stop (in our case the left one) to 0% (or a close enough value like 10%) since otherwise the white will end up ruining the texture.
All we need to do now is blend our texture with our vase by opening up the Transparency panel and choosing a Blending Mode that works. For the current example, I went with Overlay, which as you can see produces a nice, subtle transition between the texture and the vase, which is exactly what I want. Depending on the project, you might end up using a different Blending Mode and Opacity level, so I strongly recommend you play around with them until you find one that produces an interesting effect.
6. How to Apply Texture in Illustrator Using a Custom Stipple Brush
Once we’ve finished adding texture to our first vase, move on to the second one. We will see how we can create a stipple brush and then use it to decorate our second canvas.
As we did with the previous method, we’ll first want to create a copy of the vase’s main body and stand, which we will turn into a Compound Shape that we will later on use as a Clipping Mask.
Next, we need to create the custom brush by drawing a couple of different sized circles (
#000000) displayed in a circular formation (highlighted with green), positioning the smaller ones towards the outside and the larger ones on the inside.
Quick tip: as you can see, I went and created a new document so that my brush elements don't overlap with the vases, but you can just as well do it on the same project file as long as you are careful.
Once you have all the shapes in place, all you need to do is bring up the Brush panel and, with all of them selected, simply click on New Brush, making sure to set the brush type to Scatter Brush. A new window should pop up letting you adjust some of its settings, but for now just leave them as they are since you won’t be able to preview any changes. That being said, give it a custom name and hit OK, since we’re going to fine-tune it in the next step.
If you take a closer look at your Brushes panel, you should now see the custom stipple brush that we’ve just created, which you need to select and then use to draw a horizontal line using the Paintbrush Tool (B). This will help us get a preview of all the changes that we're going to make to its different options.
As soon as you have the line, you can go back to the panel and double click on the brush, which should bring up a new window, where you can adjust its different features and preview them live.
In my case, I’ve set the Size to Pressure and lowered its level to 28%. I then adjusted the Spacing to 40%, making sure the Scatter is on 0% and the Rotation set to Random with a -120º angle. Last but not least, I’ve made sure to set the Colorization to Tints since I want to be able to change the color of my brush later on when I need to.
Once I’ve finished adjusting my brush, I can go back to my project file and use it to add texture to the sides of my vase using
#000000 for its left side and
#FFFFFF for its right one. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, you can adjust the Weight of the Stroke in order to get the desired effect. Since I wanted to get a subtle result, I lowered it to a value of just 0.3 px.
Once you’re happy with the result, all you have to do is position the underlying Compound Shape in front of the texture (right click > Arrange > Bring to Front), and then use it as a Clipping Mask (desired shapes selected > right click > Make Clipping Mask) in order to constrain it to the surface of the vase.
7. How to Apply Texture in Illustrator Using Pattern Swatches
Our third and last method to add custom vector textures in Illustrator is one that you probably never even thought of using. This is why I really wanted to point it out since it's super easy to use and gives you really interesting results.
That being said, position yourself onto the last vase, and let’s see what I’m talking about!
As we did with the previous methods, start out by creating a Compound Shape using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of its body and base.
With the Compound Shape selected, open up the Swatches panel, and then click on the Swatch Libraries menu and navigate down to Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Textures. As you can see, there are a bunch of options that we can choose from, but for this project we’re going to use the one called Ripple.
Next, all we need to do is adjust the visibility of the texture by setting its Blending Mode to Overlay and lowering its Opacity to 60%, which should give us an interesting final result.
It’s a Wrap! You Know How to Make Textures in Illustrator
There you have it, fellow texture addicts: a nice, easy Illustrator texture tutorial on how to create textures for your different projects using three different methods.
5 Top Adobe Illustrator Textures From Envato Elements (2021)
Now you know how to add grainy texture in Illustrator. The process of creating a collection of custom textures can end up taking a lot of time. If you're a graphic designer with multiple projects and you use Illustrator every day, I've got a solution for you.
The best source of Adobe Illustrator textures and other add-ons is Envato Elements. The subscription-based marketplace offers you unlimited downloads of texture Illustrator packs. And that's not all. You'll also find thousands of graphic templates, premium fonts, add-ons, and more.
Envato Elements has over 2,000 texture Illustrator collections. You'll find distressed texture Illustrator packs, grain texture Illustrator kits, and more. Here's a selection of some of the best Adobe Illustrator textures you can find there:
1. Halftone Vintage Texture Illustrator Pack (EPS, PNG)
This Halftone vintage texture Illustrator pack includes 10 high-quality vector EPS and PNG files derived from high-resolution photos. These textures capture the feel of old-school prints and hearken back to the day when you could easily spot the halftone textures in prints. The grunge texture Illustrator pack can provide an authentic and classic feel to almost any project. Click on the larger view of each of the product images to better see the detail.
Here's an example of the Halftone vintage texture Illustrator set applied to the vases.
2. Grit Vintage Texture Illustrator Set (AI, EPS, PNG)
This authentic collection features an old-time vintage feel, with a variety of textures ranging from very subtle grit to heavier grit, so you can find the right texture for the job. Easily use these finely detailed grain textures for Illustrator in your next design. You can add multiple textures to one design for an even heavier distressed look.
Here's an example of this grain texture Illustrator set applied to the vases.
3. Wave Painted Textures (EPS, PNG)
Presenting a unique collection of hand-painted wave textures with a high-impact look. This grunge texture Illustrator collection is perfect for projects where you need an abstract background with some dramatic flair.
Heres's an example of the hand-painted grunge texture Illustrator set applied to the vases.
4. Rippled Water Vector Textures Illustrator Kit (EPS, PNG)
High-resolution textures for all your designing purposes. This pack includes eight Rippled Water textures for photographers, graphic designers, and DIY creatives to help you create cards, backgrounds, banners, or other projects.
Here's an example of the Rippled Water vector textures Illustrator kit applied to the vases.
5. Vintage Fabric Textures (EPS, PNG)
Here’s a set of high-quality full-page fabric textures for some good old vintage flavor. The vintage texture Illustrator set covers a range of fabrics, from denim varieties to standard T-shirt fabric. Any of these textures can be used in either Photoshop or Illustrator (or any program that uses either Vector EPS or Transparent PNGs).
Here's an example of the Vintage Fabric vector textures Illustrator set applied to the vases.
Now, even though the above textures were created using different methods than those presented in this article, you'll be applying them in the same way, by first positioning them on the desired shape, and then masking them, making sure to play around with colors, Blending Modes, and Opacity levels.
Play With Illustrator Texture Overlays Today
So, as you saw, the process of creating and using custom vector textures isn't all that hard, especially when you have a basic understanding of the tools and methods involved.
Even though today we explored just three of the different available methods, you'll be amazed at how much you can achieve using these simple techniques.
That being said, you can always expand your texturing skills by checking out these amazing Illustrator texture tutorials and resources:
This post was originally published on 28 May 2018. It’s been updated with contributions from Maria Villanueva. Maria is a staff writer with Envato Tuts+.