Adding Photo Texture to Your Artwork with Blending Modes

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adding texture to drawings and artwork like canvas and rough paper

In this SketchBook tutorial, we’ll use a photographed texture to enhance my finished artwork. Why would you want to add texture to your artwork? Well, why wouldn’t you?

Texture from an imported or scanned image can help break up the “too clean” look of digital art. Adding some roughness can hide small imperfections in your artwork. It can even make your image feel more like a painting — as if you did it on canvas, watercolor paper, or rough wood.

Where do we find our texture? My favorite place to go is Creative Market. You can buy creative assets to enhance your work like textures, photographs, illustrations, and fonts. Everything is stylish and reasonably priced, and you know you’re purchasing from another artist so it feels good to give back to the community.

1. Draw something totally sweet

Texture is like dessert — best saved for last. You want your artwork basically finished and only then should you add it. Also, keep it simple. In my example illustration, I kept the shading and detail really light on purpose. If I had spent too much time on small details on this character, they could get lost when I add the  texture.

I used Wood Textures Vol. 1 by Gabor Monori for this tutorial:

wood texture on art drawing


2. Prep those layers

order layers carefully

I want to add texture to the background but not the character. I had to order my layers carefully to make sure it would work. Decide which element you want to have the texture, and isolate that element on a separate layer. Or, add the texture on top of your art for the effect to cover everything.

3. Bring on the texture

Click on this icon to bring in an image:

how to add an image to your drawing in sketchbook

Navigate to the image you want to use and select it. The image will be imported on a brand-new layer. Transform the image to fit the whole background using the move puck. Hovering over the different parts of the move puck changes the action from scale, skew, rotate, or move.

putting texture layer on top of some layers but under others

4. Blending modes are the key

A blending mode changes the way a layer behaves in relation to layers below it. Each blending mode does something different, depending on the algorithm. (It’s crazy math biz!)

Try out different blending modes to see which one causes the effect you like best. Use the opacity slider of the new layer to make the effect more subtle or more intense.using blending modes in sketchbook pro

examples of different types of textures in sketchbook drawing

Download a PDF version

Like this idea of adding stylized looks? Download this tutorial as a PDF to take on the go!