‘Skeuomorphism’ is one of those fancy words designers love to flex with, but the concept is pretty straightforward. It refers to making digital products resemble their real-world counterparts, and we see it all the time in user-interface (UI) design: buttons that depress when clicked, dials and sliders, and analogue clocks on our phones’ lock screens.
Steve Jobs was a big pioneer of skeuomorphic design, and even today the Apple interface remains rooted in some of these early ideas. Using familiar real-world objects like recycling bins, floppy discs, and note paper lends a sense of intuition to deleting, saving, and writing.
This approach has fallen out of favor with many UI designers, but more and more graphic designers are exploring analogue textures to ‘roughen up’ the pristine digital facade of their work. Crumpled, folded, torn, and glued paper posters have seen a particular explosion this year, attracting physical interest to the design.
This visual trend exemplifies the sense of rebellion that will define much of what we see emerging in 2020. Rebelling against digital precision, analogue texture seems to infuse a sense of having been created by human hands; imperfect, and therefore more authentic. There’s a subtle but powerful gesture of retaining humanity underlying this idea.
Ironically, degrading the image to some degree can make it seem more prestigious.
As print media has fallen by the wayside, physical printing (magazines, album covers, posters) tend to be reserved for very specific, high-end applications. Anybody can have their work published on a blog, but to have it appear in print elevates the achievement. This might be why so many digital branding projects are presented in the mode of good old fashioned paper. Folds, rips, stickers, plastic wrapping, punch holes, and other physical marks only enhance this illusion.
Aesthetically, the analogue texture trend is hugely popular with brands on the street-style spectrum. Emulating the appearance of a poster roughly glued up on the wall, or a hand-printed run of mixtape CDs, calls to mind the context of the concrete jungle, and ups the street cred accordingly.
The evidence of human handiwork locates the trend within a paradigm of 90s nostalgia, recalling a bygone era when side hustling meant hitting the streets for hours with a backpack crammed with flyers, stickers, wheat-paste, or cassette tapes – not just promoting with the click of a button. In 2020, you can save the tread on your sneakers and spend more time fine-tuning your faux-crumple effect in Over.
We have a wide range of analogue textures you can blend into your images, to give them that slightly roughed-up, made by hand look. But don’t limit yourself to just these. You could build up your own library of life-like textures by snapping random surface materials with your phone – concrete, tarmac, scratched metal, brick, sand… Or easier still, search for these in our endless image libraries.
Whether you use our graphics or your own photographs, the key to adding texture to your images is the Blend Mode. This handy tool literally blends two images together, with a range of different variations.