Visual Texture in Design


by Matt Bellisle, Creative Director

We live in a three-dimensional world, full of tangible objects that we use and see and touch everyday. But as designers, the majority of what we create is for two-dimensional projects such as print ads, brochures or Web sites. Part of our job, then, is to take the “real world” and translate it into the flat two-dimensional world–as seamlessly as possible. So what’s the trick? For me, the answer is creating a “Visual Texture” in my designs and illustrations.

Nothing in this world is perfectly flat or devoid of texture: Wood has grain, brick is gritty and irregular, concrete has cracks and imperfections, fabric has stitch and seams. These tactile qualities which surround us send messages to our brains that tell us what they are or remind us of experiences we’ve had before.

Bringing these tactile qualities to life–creating the 3D visual texture in a 2D format–can help the viewer form emotional connections between their real world experiences and the design piece. This is an important link in helping the message better resonate with its audience.

In the examples shown above, you can see how adding textures to the design creates connections to what the companies are about, even though the full image isn’t in view. It’s all in creating a visual authenticity that provides the right emotional shorthand for the product or service to be understood the best.

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