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Quick Tip: How to Create a Grunge Paper Texture Graphic Style in Illustrator


I love adding texture to my illustrations, but creating a texture from nothing is always hard, so learning how to manipulate the different tools and default resources in Adobe Illustrator you already have, can work in your favor. Today I'm going to show you how to create a grunge paper texture Graphic Style, starting with a humble default Art Brush, then using the Pattern Options of CS6 and then some fun with the Appearance panel. So let's jump in!

Step 1

Let's start by taking advantage of one of the Art Brushes you get by default in Adobe Illustrator. In the Brushes panel go into the drill down menu and select Open Brush Library > Artistic > ChalkCharcoalPencil. Select the top brush which is called "Chalk" and apply it along a horizontal line drawn by the Line Segment Tool (\).

Step 2

While the line is selected, go to Object > Pattern > Make. This will open the Pattern Options screen and will automatically expand the art brush applied to the line to shapes. However, there is a slight issue... all the shapes are in group, upon group, upon group, upon...

So select the group and Object > Ungroup until you're left with the below.

Step 3

Let's give the pattern a name, here I'm using the inspiring name "Texture Pattern" and then set the Tile Type to Hex by Row.

Then play with the Width and Height values to bunch up the shapes so there are minimal large gaps.

Step 4

The problem with using this technique to create a texture pattern is the larger shapes make it more obvious it's a pattern and not the subtle texture you're after. The best seamless textures avoid having these tell tale signs. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the largest shapes and delete them.

Keep going until you're happy with the look of the texture. I've taken away all the large shapes.

Step 5

If you delete too many shapes, you could always select a group of them and duplicate them through out. This is what I've done with my texture. With this method, you not only fill in your texture more, but also make it more unique. So use the Lasso Tool (Q) to select some shapes.

The hold Alt + drag to duplicate the shapes and place them where you wish. Do this several times until you're happy with the texture density.

Step 6

Select All of the shapes (Ctrl + A) and then give the fill a dark brown shade. Using a black fill makes it impossible to use Blending Mode Screen, however with an off black shade this is avoided. As we're aiming for a grunge paper look, brown is a good choice. When you're happy with your pattern, click on Done and it will save it to your Swatches panel.

Step 7

Let's construct the Graphic Style. Fill a Rectangle (M) with an off grey/beige and then go into the Appearance panel. Click on the drill down menu and select New Fill and apply your "Texture Pattern". Change the Blending Mode to Screen.

While the pattern fill is selected, go to Object > Transform > Rotate and rotate the pattern slightly with only the Transform Patterns box ticked.

Step 8

Add a New Fill again and apply your "Texture Pattern". This time set it to Blending Mode Multiply and Opacity 5%. As you've added a new fill, the pattern will be applied in it's normal orientation. As the pattern is angled different to each other, you'll create this multi-tone texture effect.

I've then went to finish the texture using an inverted transparent black radial gradient to create a vignette effect and then I added a new fill using another pattern. You can access this by going into the Swatches panel and going into the drill down menu, Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Basic Textures and selecting the Diamond texture. Set both of these new fills to Blending Mode Multiply, Opacity 5%.


When you're happy with your overall texture, you can go into the Graphic Styles panel and click on the New Graphic Style button. You can then apply it in future projects, as general textures in illustrations or as a great background in your designs.

What's great about this texture Graphic Style is that it's 100% vector, so it's still scalable and without any raster effects. If this is your thing and you want to try out more ways of achieving scalable textures in Adobe Illustrator, why not check out one of my old tutorials on "Creating Scalable Textures within Illustrator". I also highly recommend this tutorial on creating a seamless grunge pattern using Live Trace. Until next time, happy vectoring!

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