Lesson 4: Elements of Design: Texture & Colour


Texture is both a tactile and a visual quality. It is experienced when a person brushes his fingers over the surface of an object, which may seem rough or smooth; soft or hard. Texture as a visual quality results from light, being reflected or absorbed by the surface of objects. Textural effects can also be simulated or contrived by structural designs e.g. weave etc. The textural quality of fabrics is modified by printing by various techniques such as flocking, heat transfer, rubber printing etc. on them, or dyeing them by such process as batik and tie & dye. An artist may deliberately affect the surface texture of an object using the means to modify the surface. Differences in texture can be referred to as smooth, rough, slippery, soft, silky, fuzzy, sharp and many other adjective as we become aware of the variations of the surfaces which we touch.

There are various effects which one may perceive through the element of texture:

  1. Textures from the tactile sense: The resistance to pressure may be little or great, causing the fabric to seem soft or hard. When the fabric is grasped between fingers and hand is run over its surface, it may appear smooth or rough in varying degrees.

  2. Textures from the visual sense: when the fabric is viewed under different lights its surface pattern changes. Transparency and opaqueness of fabric can be seen based on the highlights and shadows caused by its roughness or coarseness or sheerness.

  3. Textures may also be appreciated by the way they are interpreted by the mind of viewer. They may seem sheer and light and consequently appear to give a dainty impression. Textures that are coarse and rough may appear heavy and bold.

The surface colour is broken up by many minute gradations of light and shadow which arrange themselves differently in various textures (Fig.4.1):

  1. Dull or rough textures such as wool or cotton absorb light.

  2. Shiny or smooth textures such as satin reflect light.

  3. Pile fabrics like velvet or corduroy both reflect and absorb light. Every thread of the pile is casting a little shadow on its neighbours so that the reflection on the surface is limited to the topmost tips of the pile.
Different types of fabric textures

Characteristics of texture

Last modified: Tuesday, 24 January 2012, 8:06 AM