What is the Difference Between Texture and Material?

The terms’ texture’ and ‘material’ hold high value in the world of art. However, they do not mean the same thing. Each term yields its own power, and it is important to know what those powers are. 

What is the essence of the two terms? 

Without being inputted into pictures or graphics, all an artist would have would just be a dull collection of lifeless objects. So, the two terms work to give a particular object shape, definition, and a striking similarity to real-life entities. 

It only boggles the mind at how these entirely different entities work so well to complement each other. Textures can only be applied to materials. So, in the absence of a suitable material, textures mean nothing.

Materials, on the other hand, are lifeless without textures being applied to them. Even with this high level of coexistence between the two terms, there still exist several differences. 

Before we dig into these differences, you should also know that artists work with textures and materials. It is all about making their works more colorful and realistic. 

What exactly does texture mean? 

Textures are images with flat appearances that designers fix to shapes and objects. The objects to which they are fixed are ones that have length, width, and depth. Textures only have length and width. So, this makes it very easy to staple beautiful textures to the objects. 

So, when you fix the textures onto the surfaces of objects, they do something unique to them. These textures make the objects on which they are placed come alive. The sequence of the texture you use cuts off the boring uniformity of objects and make them much more realistic to the viewer. 

Imagine a model of the ground being just plainly colored with just grey colors. No one can depict the true meaning until textures are applied. These textures bring in coarseness, fineness, light, darkness, paleness, or greenness to objects. 

So, when you see the model of the wall, you know at once that it is a wall. Sometimes, you can almost feel the roughness against the tips of your fingers! This is exactly what textures do. They instill in objects their own feels and expressions so that a third person feels the same thing. 

The model of a frog leaping out of water will not stir reality in people’s minds if the moist and pore-filled skins are missing. Drawing out an irregular circle will not make anyone think of cotton balls if they don’t see the buds’ softness.

Textures do not only give off physical feelings. There are other feels like love, frigidity, warmth, and several other things texture inculcates into a plain object. 

What are materials? 

Materials contribute to the observable features of an object. They are the forms that bear the textures. No one can get a plain surface and then begin to apply wrinkly textures to it. That way, the model will not bring out the intended meaning or stir up the necessary feels. 

With materials, a designer can decide on the properties to fill into the object. When a designer picks out a material like wood, he knows what color he needs it to appear. And that could be either black or dirty brown color. Materials decide textures. 

Examples of Materials. 

Materials are three-dimensional structures so, finding examples should be pretty easy. All we need to do is think of what objects have the three dimensions— length, breadth, and depth. 

Examples include: 

  • Wood 
  • Plastic 
  • Aluminium 
  • Resins 
  • Carbon Fiber 
  • Powders 
  • Graphite. 

Of all these examples, plastic is the one material that is used by several designers in their 3D models. 

How can textures be applied? 

Artists impose texture on their works using several methods. For example, to mark out circles or whorls, they press their brushes to their canvases and roll it around at a three hundred and sixty-degree angle. When they need something to stick out of the canvas, they dab the material with several layers of paint. This could be a method of thickening. 

Another impressive thing artists do is inculcate in paints gritty elements like sand, dust, and tiny stones to create stony impressions on their materials. They could do this when painting something that has to do with the earth’s soils. Now, when an observer views it, he can easily tell that he is looking at soils. 

To create drips in their drawings, they could use watery paint on the material. For example, if an artist needs to create an impression of a moving stream, he can do that by allowing paint to drip down in spheres. So, you can look at the drawing and easily tell what it is. 

To create these textures, artists use brushes with several kinds of tips. Some tips could be wide, flat, or pointed. The funny thing is that objects like knives, glass, and nails can do the trick of texturing. 

To make things glow, artists could add wife or silver highlights to the edges of their drawings. For example, drawing out a mirror will need the surface to be fed with colors that will impose in the mind of the viewers a soft glow. 

In models, texture can be created by applying images in .jpeg or .PNG formats. Some other designers craft up their textures when designing. They can do this by using software programs like GIMP or Photoshop. The images there exist either as defuse, specular or normal marks. 

Types of Texture 

There are four types of texture that can be imposed on materials. They include the following. 

  • Concrete texture. 
  • Fake texture. 
  • Notional texture. 
  • Original texture. 

Types of materials 

These materials usually bear the textures. 

  • ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) 
  • PLA (polylactic acid) 
  • PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol. 
  • Elastic filaments 
  • Carbon fiber filaments. 

What are the differences that exist between texture and material? 

Textures Materials 
Textures stir up feelings in the viewer, either of roughness, coarseness, grittiness or smoothness. Materials do not usually stir up feelings within the viewer. They only give accurate definitions of what the texture is complementing. 
Textures cannot dictate anything tied to lighting. Materials determine what shades a texture can be in. They are responsible for how light interacts with an object. 
Textures are models with no depth dimension. Materials are models with depth dimensions. 
Textures are independent of light and only depend on modes like ‘modulation’. Materials are hugely dependent on light and work to either reflect or refract it. 
Textures are beautiful layers created to be applied on the surfaces of materials. Materials are tags in light equations that work as a collection. 
Textures are images that exist in formats like .jpeg and are usually aligned along the edges of objects. Materials take the imitation of real life objects that have properties like refraction, reflection, density and opacity. An example is wood. 
Textures are mostly referred to as bitmap images Materials are simply known as platforms that are accentuated with lighting effects. 
Textures are simple pictures that can be used to paint or design objects. Materials are the platforms on which the designs are made.  
Textures do not react to properties like light. Materials react to light and have several properties associated with light like glossy surfaces, illuminated surfaces and so on. 
Textures have no connections with static meshes or BSP geometry. And that is because they cannot be used on them. Materials can be fixed on static meshes and BSP geometry. 
Textures belong to groups of static pictures in .tga, .tiff and BMP formats. Materials are not pictures and so, do not have formats. 

Practical application of the two terms 

For example, let us consider producing the image of a hammer. 

Materials have properties like density, so we can make the handle with wood. Wood is totally impermeable to light, and that in itself is a property. The edges are made with metallic materials, and so, when light hits their surfaces, they glint in different directions. All of these observations are typical of materials. 

Now, how does texture come into place? In what way does it enhance the beauty of the hammer? 

Without the textures, a viewer will not see the handle and know that it is wood. Applying a texture to it, probably an image with the roughness and strain lines in wood will grab the viewer’s attention. This way, he or she can tell it is wood. 

The metallic parts can be sheened with silvery gloss to give off the lustrous properties of metal. 


Materials are very different from textures, but then, together, they work to create a striking piece. 

So, in general, textures are images that stir up notions within the viewer. They give objects and materials, meaning, intent, and depth. They also make things more colorful. Their dimensions make it easy to staple them to the surfaces of materials. 

So, now, you know that without the textures, all you have are just blocks of dull and lifeless objects!