Textures and Patterns in Infographics

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

Sometimes you can’t rely on just the right information, design, and fonts for your infographic. Texture and pattern can pack a punch in graphic design, subtle though they may be. Adding a texture or a pattern can provide a more polished graphic that adds visual appeal for the reader.

These design elements can support your theme, by developing the mood of the piece and enhancing your art. For example, a light-hearted graphic on expenditures for a baby in its first year of life might have a background of pale blue and pink polka dots.

Adding textures and patterns to your infographic can also help you highlight different sections of the graphic or to spotlight the most important facts. Take a look at the subtle textures shown here.

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Using one of them to highlight the thesis of your graphic can help ensure that the reader’s eyes go there. Using a different texture on other information (or no texture at all) can create a visual signal to move on to the next section.

Follow this cardinal rule when choosing texture, pattern, or background for your graphic: Will this help communicate the message of this graphic, or will it hinder it? In general, these features must be used sparingly. A light touch can enhance, but a heavy touch can make your graphic virtually unreadable.

Textures and patterns are available in Photoshop and Illustrator . When you choose a texture or pattern, the programs also allow you to choose the percentage of density. Opt for a low percentage — 30 percent, for example — and see whether you like it and whether you can read all the text.

Then scale it up or down as you like. Using a lighter touch allows texture and pattern to play a subordinate role in the graphic and highlights the important parts of the information.

In a more complex graphic, adding a background pattern can unify the final product. Again, you’ll want to be subtle.

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In the segment of the graphic shown in this figure, the pattern doesn’t distract the eye — all the information remains fully legible — but the pattern adds a little depth and visual interest to the graphic, helping to draw in the reader.