How to Add Texture in Adobe Illustrator

Adding texture in Adobe Illustrator makes your vector image distinct and realistic, and it can also create a retro look.

There are several ways to add texture in Adobe Illustrator, using Textures Swatches, Texture Overlay, Effects, and more.

Hi, I am Rita. I have been using Adobe Illustrator for over five years. When I started designing, I wanted my works to mimic reality (at least to an extent). Simply adding textures took my designs to the next level.

In this tutorial, I will show you three quick ways to add texture to your objects in Adobe Illustrator. 

Key Takeaways

  • You can only add texture to parts of a vector image in Adobe Illustrator.
  • You can use Adobe Illustrator texture presets by going to Effect > Texture to select your preferred textures; Craquelure, Grain, Mosaic Tiles, Patchwork, Stained Glass, and Textureizer. 
  • Always credit the stock image you use to create textures if required.
  • You can edit and delete textures on objects from the Properties menu.

3 Easy Ways to Add Texture to Objects in Adobe Illustrator

Adding texture to objects makes them relatable. Let’s add texture to our sample vector image using any of the three methods mentioned above.

Note: All screenshots are from Adobe Illustrator CC Windows Version. Mac and other versions may appear different. 

We will use all the methods to add texture to this image.

Let’s start with the easiest method.

Method 1: Texture Overlay

Step 1: Create a new layer for your texture image.

Step 2: Place and embed your texture image in a new layer. 

Don’t forget to credit the downloaded image if required.

We will blend this image into the original image. So we’ll be using the Blending Mode in Adobe Illustrator.

Step 3: Arrange your image and make sure that the texture image layer is on top of the original image. 

In this case, we will arrange the texture image above the vector image we want to give a texture. 

Note: You can close the layers you are not using to keep track of things. You can also move layers around by dragging them.

Step 4: Reduce the opacity and choose a blending mode from the appearance menu. Go to Properties > Appearance panel.

Play with the different blending modes to find the one that works best for your image.

I tried out a few blending options. I tried the Soft Light blending preset. I then changed it to Screen (because I preferred its appearance).

Step 5: Make a clipping mask. Use a copy of the vector image to clip the blended texture image. Make sure the clipping object is on top of the layer. Press Ctrl + 7 (Command + 7 for Mac users) to use the clipping mask shortcut.

Can you see that our cloud now has some texture and feels like a real cloud?

Method 2: Using Effects 

Adding texture to objects in Adobe Illustrator using the Effects method is straightforward. That is because there are existing preset textures that you can use without stress.

You don’t need to download an image or create a texture background from scratch.

Since we’ve already added texture to our cloud to make it look real, let’s add texture to our sun image. We will be using the preset effect to make our sun pop.

Let’s see how this works in practice.

Step 1: Select the object you want to add texture to. We will click on the sun (if you arranged your elements in layers, simply select the layer from the layers panel).

Step 2: Go to the overhead menu Effect > Texture and choose one of the textures from the option. You can choose from any of the six textures.

Note: Select a texture option when you click click Effect >Texture to see the other textures. You won’t see all the texture presets without selecting one.

I will use the Grain Effect because it works best for the sun. 

Can you see that the sun now has some texture?  The texture gives it some depth and makes it look more realistic. 

Step 3: Use the Effect settings. You can use the Effect settings to make your image look even better. The settings help you customize the object to suit your needs. 

There are no defined measures for the values. Feel free to use the slider and see how best it works for your image.

For example, I used Grain. 

I noticed it looked funny, so I changed the Grain Type. I selected soft grain to soften the texture and make it look more realistic.

Method 3: Texture Swatches/Swatches Library Menu

Adding a texture from the Swatches is basically adding a pattern texture, and you’re able to edit the texture. 

Let’s see how this works in practice.

Step 1: Open the Swatches panel. Go to the overhead menu and click Window > Swatches

Step 2: Click the Swatch Libraries menu > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Textures.

Select Patterns >  Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Textures as seen in the screenshot above.

You should see some graphic textures in the Basic Graphic_Textures panel.

Step 3: Add texture to your object. Select the object you want to add texture to and choose one of the textures from the swatches.

You can see the texture that you selected in the Swatches panel. 

You can change the opacity of the textured image to make it more real. You can also edit the texture by double-clicking the texture from the Swatches panel.

Let’s see how our image now looks. 

Note: The clipping mask can also be a method. I did not include it as a method since it is a part of the process for method 1. 

Final Thought

Adding textures to objects in Illustrator is easy. You can use any of the methods depending on what you want to achieve. Method 1 works best to create a more realistic texture without much customization. Methods 2 and 3 are also easy to use, but you might spend time customizing them to suit your needs.

Do you find the tutorial helpful? Which method do you prefer? Let us know in the comment section below.

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