There a 3 efficient ways I use of texturing your work in illustrator. Texture should always be used in your illustrations depending on the project, it adds a level of depth to your work. If you’re not aiming for a flat design then invest time into one of these styles to make your work stand out.

High Res Bitmap Tiffs

I love playing with textures, especially grungy ones that give my design an organic feel. There are a few secrets to texturing in illustrator the right way. You don’t have to go into photoshop fort texturing you can do it all in illustrator. High resolution bitmap Tiffs are great compared to image tracing because it will prevent lag and crashes.

They are flexible allowing you to change colors with your swatches, and scale it with the transform tool while retaining the detail you need. The process of creating tiffs is quite simple, all you do is grab a camera, find surfaces you like and take a photo. Lighting does have to be on point to get more details out and be able to manipulate it better in photoshop later.

Learn to make your own Bitmap tiffs here.


If you observe raw materials in real life they are never flat, there is rust, dirt, markings and erosion. Adding texture adds a realistic dimension to your work allowing the viewer to relate it with real world objects. Textured brushes is another form of texturing that is common in illustrator. You can create your own with sponges, charcoal, chalk, oil, pastels, sharpies and heaps more. Brushes work with strokes in illustrator and can make smooth lines look rough with one click. Stretching can occur when using long paths so the thickness of the brushes you make matter.

Saving them in library’s is simple and saves you time instead of having to locate them in a design resource folder. Less detailed brushes prevent lag just take care when using highly detailed brushes. Sponge or stippled type brushes create heaps of anchor points and can cause major lag in illustrator.

Charcoal & Chalk brushes here.

Free Vector Illustration Starter Course

Inbuilt Vector Textures

If you prefer to be experimental then you cancreate your own textures in illustrator. You can create halftones, sprays, grains, grunge textures and more. This will take extra steps although it gives you endless possibilities and a custom organic look. This style of texturing tends to have a sharp effect so use it for professional projects. To create these textures you use black and white gradients combined with illustrator effects and image trace.

It can be hard to control these types of textures but using clipping masks usually keep textures within bounds. Another tip is to only texture at the very end when you’ve finalized your artwork. Documents with many anchor points will make it very large and will cause crashes even on decent machines.

Learn to make this type of textures

Key Takeaways

  • Textures give an organic look
  • Experiment with methods to suit project
  • Many anchor points = lag or even crashes
  • Do texturing last when artwork is finished

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