Reading about texture made me think of the hands that flipped the pages of my book. It made me think about the shiny and dull surface of skin, speckled with flecks of freckles, along with tiny nicks of discolored skin where scars from Boy Scout outings and whatnot remain after years of supposed healing. Being the “tactile grain of surfaces and substances,” according to Lupton and Cole-Phillips Graphic Design: The New Basics, texture almost gives the identity and life, or lack there of, of the subject matter. There’s a reason why we cant tell the difference between an actual human actor versus a character made from CGI. While proportionally they may be similar, and even have the same gestures, there’s something about the skin that always gives the computer graphic away. We can argue that the “something” is texture.
Texture is most often created to give the essence of depth and variety to a piece, as seen in typographic portraits, or it can be used to show the difference between two objects, like hard and metallic and soft and organic.
Lynda Barry crafts together texture in this example of her graphic novel What It Is. In page 158, we see one of her popular octopi covered in what appears to be suction-cups, which characterize such creatures, until closer inspection reveals it is actually argentine puff paint. This is an example of surface manipulation, and while she could have left the octopus alone, she took the opportunity to give variety to the entity. Within the same box, the background is also given texture and variety with points of taupe on a tangerine and lemon-hued sky. Just looking at interaction between subject and texture makes you want to brush your fingertips across the tentacles, only to find they are smooth, because of the print.