TypeContrastResulting Attributes
RoughMaximumEmotionally Active
Esthetcially Dynamic
Spatially In Depth
SmoothMinimumEmotionally Passive
Esthetcially Decorative
Spatially Static

Rough texture presents maximum contrast and an illusion of depth in a picture. This results in effects that are dynamic and emotionally active.

Smooth texture, of course, has minimal contrast and presents a flat or static appearance. The resulting effects are decorative and emotionally inactive.


Texture has been considered by painters as more of a three-dimensional characteristic than a two-dimensional one. Therefore, it was largely neglected in Western painting until Vincent Van Gogh used it successfully, making texture both a color and design quality in his paintings.

Vincent Van Gogh, Bedroom at Arles

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night

Notice how the extreme use of texture in Van Gogh’s paintings evokes effects that are both visually dynamic and emotionally powerful.

The Medici Palace in Florence, Italy, is a fine example of texture in architecture.

The first floor exterior of the three-story building is rough. The second story exterior employs the use of medium rough textures, and the top exterior story of the building is of smooth texture. In this example, rough texture suggests strength and smooth texture suggests lightness.

Try It

Move the slider to compare the two versions. How do the emotional and aesthetic effects change with the change from rough to smooth textures?

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