Painting Techniques for Creating Texture and Patterns

Painting Techniques for Creating Texture and Patterns

Whether real or implied, texture makes paintings more interesting to view. There are many different painting techniques for creating texture and patterns.

To create the appearance of texture, you can use any kind of paint or drawing medium. Sponge painting, for example, uses either a sponge paint roller or natural sponges dipped in contrasting paint colors to sweep the color across the surface.


Sponging is one of the most popular paint techniques and it’s a creative way to breathe new life into your walls. It’s also easy to learn and doesn’t require a precise hand or expensive tools.

The first step is to pick a base coat color, which will serve as your foundational shade that influences how your sponged colors appear. It’s best to choose a light, airy color that will give your wall texture a soft, flowing appearance.

After you’ve selected your base coat, moisten a sponge and dab it over the wall in random patterns. Vary the angle of your sponge each time to avoid obvious repeating shapes. Also be sure to wash your sponge occasionally. This will prevent it from becoming too full of paint.


Stippling is a great technique to use for creating value in your painting. It involves using different sized dots that are spaced closer or further apart than one another to create varying degrees of darkness and lightness in your painting. It is a slow technique and requires patience but it can be quite relaxing and forgiving as well.

Start with a light touch and work your way up to darker areas. Be sure to control the pressure of your pen and to vary it as needed. Lighter pressure will yield smaller, lighter dots and heavier pressure will produce larger, darker dots.

To make this technique even more interesting try working with metallic paint. It will add a stunning shimmer and dimension to your painting.


Sgraffito is a painting, pottery, and glass making technique that involves putting down a layer of color, then scratching it to reveal the underlying surface. It can be used to create patterns and designs, add texture, or for expressiveness.

Using oil pastels can be an easy way to learn this technique with your students. You can buy a set at any art or stationery store.

A variation on this is using modelling paste and acrylic paint. The first area of color is painted and left to dry, then the artist uses a palette knife to scrape through it to create the design or pattern. This is a great technique for creating a sense of movement and energy in a painting. Sgraffito is seen in works such as Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait with Two Circles, Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, and Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.


A common painting technique, underpainting is used to establish the values and composition of a piece of art before layering on colour. Some artists use a monochromatic underpainting, while others use complementary colors to enhance the vibrancy of the top layers.

For example, a blue underpainting can give a cold feel to a landscape and a yellow tone suits a sunset. The choice of underpainting color also affects the way that pigments react with each other in the final layer of paint.

Some artists also leave areas of white canvas untouched, giving the underlying underpainting color the chance to shine through in the final painting. This method is known as alla prima and was favoured by Turner. It is a great way to create a sense of depth and add texture to the paint.

Rag rolling

Using this painting technique, you can create a richly textured effect reminiscent of crushed velvet or parchment. It is a very structured paint-application method, which makes it hard to continue the same pattern around corners and it is not recommended for large wall surfaces (it can be difficult to move the rag evenly up and down).

You start by making sure that the wall surface is well prepared. Then you mix your paint/glaze mixture and dip your rag into it, bunching it up to create an interesting pattern. You can use different rag fabrics to achieve varying effects, like linen, chamois leather, or burlap.

To apply the rag rolling, begin with a small section and work your way across the surface. Make sure that you are checking the rag for excess paint and re-bunching it every now and then to keep an even texture.

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