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Design

How to Create Different Vector Textures Using Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

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 little 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.

1. How to Set Up a New Project File

As always, let’s 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
setting up a new document

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
setting up the layers

3. How to Create the Background

With the document all layered, we can now start working on the actual project, and we will do so by creating the background. That being said, make sure you position yourself onto the first layer and let’s jump straight into it!

Step1

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.

creating and positioning the background

Step 2

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.

locking the background layer

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.

Step 1

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.

creating the main shape for the lower section of the vase

Step 2

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.

adding the neck and base section to the center vase

Step 3

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.

adjusting the shape of the center vase

Step 4

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.

adding details to the center vase

Step 5

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.

creating the remaining vases

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 Textures Using the Grain Effect

The first method, and my personal favorite, is using the Grain Effect, which is actually derived from Photoshop.

Step 1

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.

creating the clipping mask for the grain effect texture

Step 2

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.

creating the compound shape

Step 3

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 (#2A323D).

creating the gradient for the grain effect texture

Step 4

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.

adjusting the settings of the grain effect

Step 5

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.

adjusting the position of the grain texture

Step 6

All we need to do now is blend our texture to 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.

choosing a blending mode for the grain effect texture

6. How to Create Textures Using a Custom Stipple Brush

Once we’ve finished adding texture to our first vase, move on to the second one, where we will see how we can create a stipple brush and then use it to decorate our second canvas.

Step 1

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.

creating the clipping mask for the stipple brush texture

Step 2

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.

creating the main shapes for the stipple brush

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.

Step 3

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.

creating the custom stipple brush

Step 4 

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.

fine tuning the custom stipple brush

Step 5

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.

adding texture to the second vase using the stipple brush

Step 6

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.

masking the custom stipple brush texture

7. How to Create Textures Using Pattern Swatches

Our third and last method is one that you probably never even thought of using, which 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!

Step 1

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.

creating the clipping mask for the pattern swatch texture

Step 2

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.

applying the swatch pattern texture to the third vase

Step 3

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.

choosing a blending mode for the swatch pattern texture

It’s a Wrap!

There you have it, fellow texture addicts: a nice, easy tutorial on how to create textures for your different projects using three different methods.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to post them within the comments section and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

finished project preview

Need More Textures?

Since the process of creating a collection of custom textures can end up taking a lot of time, I thought that I could help you out by sharing some of my favorite ones which you can get over at Envato Elements.

Vintage Halftone Textures

This Halftone Texture 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. They 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.

vintage halftone textures by envato elements
Vintage Halftone Textures by Envato Elements

Example of Vintage Halftone Textures applied on vases.

vintage halftone textures vase example

Vintage Grit Textures

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 drop these finely detailed textures onto your design and add multiple textures onto one design for an even heavier distressed look.

vintage grit textures by envato elements
Vintage Grit Textures by Envato Elements

Example of Vintage Grit Textures applied on vases.

vintage grit textures vase example

Wave Painted Textures

Presenting a unique collection of hand-painted wave textures with a high-impact look. This collection is perfect for projects where you need an abstract background with some dramatic flair.

painted wave textures by envato elements
Wave Painted Textures by Envato Elements

Example of Wave PaintedTextures applied on vases.

wave painted textures vase example

Rippled Water Textures

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.

rippled water textures by envato elements
Rippled Water Textures by Envato Elements

Example of Rippled Water Textures applied on vases.

rippled water textures vase example

Vintage Fabric Textures

Here’s a set of high-quality full-page fabric textures for some good old vintage flavor. The 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).

vintage fabric textures by envato elements
Vintage Fabric Textures by Envato Elements

Example of Vintage Fabric Textures applied on vases.

vintage fabric textures by envato elements

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.

Conclusion

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 tutorials that are really fun and easy to follow.

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