Textures? Opinions, please!

Hello, all. In the “Dangers of the Deep” derby, a helpful discussion was engaged regarding the use of textures in Photoshop. That is: are they allowed, or not? The design raising the question is “Cuddle Fish,” if you want to take a look. Cuttlefish texture was lifted from a free photo, then modified in both texture and color in photoshop for the fill in those cute little kitties.

One comment was that textures used in this way would probably violate the 6 color rule. Another was that textures, if viewed almost like a “brush” or “fill,” are more technique in simple design.

What do you all think? Photoshop is so powerful that I almost think putting noise or pattern to any shape is the same as using and modifying a pattern external to PS to create a design.

So, no textures at all? Could one use, say, a photo of the moon to get that “cratery” feel in a drawing?


Hi ColtsMere!

So, I went to check out the design in question. Seems the problem here isn’t the fact that you used “texture”, it’s that you used a photo. Photos don’t work well in screen printing (or any printing that requires a specific number of colors). Shades, tints and gradients don’t work either which is why there are soooo many tutorials about halftoning and how to do it. Six colors means six colors, PERIOD. So each different shade of gray (or pink or purple or blue, in your case) would have to be counted as another color and, therefore, your design wouldn’t work. So yeah, that submission would have been disqualified.

Textures that aren’t photos, on the other hand, are more than welcome and add so much to a design. Grunge effects and halftones are what give many designs life and depth. So yeah, use those - but not as photos.

A suggestion would be to find a texture you like (ie the moon/craters), bring it into Illustrator and make it into 1 or 2 color vector art. No gradients, no shading. Then you know for sure you’re only use 1 or 2 colors and you can still create an interesting texture - and in Illustrator you can still adjust and redraw shapes until they’re what you want. Also, learn about halftones so you CAN eventually incorporate shading and gradients.

Good luck!

To extend on @marcee’s post, here are some halftoning tips from various shirt.woot artists:

A post by @Kinzoku brought up these tips by @spiritgreen also.

Magnificent! Thank you so much for the guidance. I know what I’ll be doing today! :slight_smile:


Thanks for the resources! Lots of studying to do now! Yay!!

A special shout-out of thanks to Benjaminleebates for setting me on the path to overcoming my newbieness! So much to learn!



We have all been there…
It’s hard for me to not just snip at anything that I see as “wrong” assuming that the rules are being blatantly disregarded. Because… there have been quite a few people who do not have your attitude, but rather attempt to argue and rationalize.
I’m so glad to see that you have a wonderful attitude and look forward to your growth.
Speaking personally, I taught myself illustrator by participating in the website for years. I knew nothing when I started.
And my current job was attained by my advanced skills in illustrator. I have taught many graphic designers tips and tricks that I have picked up.
Attitude is everything, IMHO.

I love hearing your story. I was an English and Fine Art major…then kids and work and marriage and (ugh) life… But, FINALLY I’m back doing art! I pulled out my drawings, sculptures and paintings and put them around my house to remind me of who I was. Now, I get to try to translate that “eye” into Illustrator and Photoshop. Such fun! Such frustration! Such excitement! Your story is exactly what I had hoped for myself someday in the future.

I’ll keep at it. I’m surprised at how much I’ve learned just over the last couple of months.

All the best!

Hey, when you guys are doing ‘textures’, remember, it is kinda hard to get some of these subtleties to show up on a t-shirt. The comment above about the moon surface is a great example. Usually we have to massage something like that and add colors to make it work(like several shades of grey to get that ‘texture’ to show up). Just keep that in mind before you go too hog wild.

Thanks for the further advice!