VSST 108 - Design for Media I

Pattern and Texture

Pattern and texture are two important components of the visual design tool kit. This project defines and challenges you to creatively use these two visual elements.

Pattern: repetition of an element, unit or motif in a regular and anticipated sequence, usually with some symmetry. Completely flat (or planar) - no illusion of depth.

Texture: tactile quality of a surface; the actual physical variation that can be felt or touched. It is a surface characteristic of the material or a result of how the paint or sculptural material has been applied and manipulated by the artist. Texture is made up of several irregular or regular units that can follow a prescribed order, or be random in placement. A texture can embody a pattern.

A painting or collage will usually have a real, tactile texture; it can also create the illusion of a texture. A drawing or print will usually have very little real texture but it can present a strong illusion of texture. A computer screen or photographic print can only present the illusion of a texture ("visual texture" or "virtual texture" or "implied texture").

Note that the terms "pattern" and "texture" are often used interchangeably or in a confusing manner. For the purposes of this course, we'll maintain the clear distinction outlined above.

example of a pattern

example of a texture

Part 1 - Pattern

Choose a square portion of your scanned shape freeform composition. You can set the Marquee Selection tool for a square by using Fixed Ratio set to 1:1.

Be sure to choose an interesting, dynamic portion of your composition. You can crop quite tightly, if you wish.

When you have your chosen square area and cropped to it (Image/Crop), SAVE AS a new document <pattern.psd>.

Use Canvas Size with an upper-left lock. Make both the width and the height double the original dimensions, extending with white, so that your square of pattern is in the upper left corner of the newly enlarged canvas.

You can create a mirrored/rotated pattern element in multiple ways:

(1) Select just the upper left corner (with the square-set marquee). Copy and Paste. Use Edit/Transform to "Flip Horizontal" and then move the flipped block into the upper right quadrant. Copy and paste the upper right quadrant, and flip it vertically. Move it to the lower right quadrant. Copy and paste this, flip it horizontally, and move it to the lower left.

(2) Do the same set of copy/pastes as above, but use "rotate 90-degrees clockwise" or "counterclockwise" for each new quadrant.

(3) A different method - of your own invention - that produces a pattern block with good symmetry and a dynamic quality.


Use Image/Size to make your module 600x600 pixels in size with a print resolution of 300 pixels/inch.


Use Canvas Size, with an upper-left lock, to expand the canvas to 12 inches across by 8 inches high (white background fill). Copy, paste and arrange your pattern module so that you have six across and four down (24 total modules) without gaps. Flatten Image; save as <sec-name-pattern.psd>.

Duplicate the background layer; then use Image/Adjustments/Invert. This will produce a while lines on black ground version. Name the new layer <invert>.

Part 2 - Texture

You can either create or find a texture.

If you want to create one, use your pencils or fine-line pens to produce the illusion of a textured material, in a box 3x3 inches.

If you want to find one, locate at least 3x3 inches of a good textured material.

In either case, scan in 3x3 inches worth (@300 ppi) of your texture. Save this as <texture.tif>. This should be enough expanse of texture to seamlessly fill the largest shape you might select to be filled.

If necessary, use Image/Adjustment/Levels to accentuate the texture (but not too much!) and save the change.

Open <texture.tif>. Select All and Copy.

In your 3a.psd file, duplicate the <background> (black-on-white) layer. Name the new layer <texture>.

Select a shape within your pattern that you want to fill with texture. Use the magic wand tool and click within the white space - you may have to adjust the magic wand parameters to properly select all of the white space and no more. Use refine edge to get a natural transition that is not too abrubt. Now use Paste Special/Paste Into, and the piece of texture stored in Photoshop's clipboard should be inserted into the white space. Continue selecting the shapes you want to fill with texture until you are satisfied with your result. Merge the all of the masks (all of the layers creatd by "paste into") so there is just one <texture> layer.

Clear any guides.


In the end, there should be one Photoshop file <sec-name-pattern.psd> with three layers in this order:

background (with black-on-white pattern)

Single digital file due in AW Express at the beginning of Class 4a on Tuesday 4/24.

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