How To Add Texture Effects

Experimenting with textures in ArtRage 5

ArtRage offers a lot of options for experimenting with your canvas and stroke textures, from presets to custom layer effects. The default traditional media options will let you work with different brushes and papers realistically, but you can also create your own digital textures and combine them as you work.

Note: These tips all refer to ArtRage 5. If you have a different edition, you may not have all the same options available.

Paper (Canvas) Texture

Background Canvas:

The main canvas texture can be edited from the Canvas Settings. Along with the existing presets and settings, you can also load a custom texture image and a custom pattern. You can load any image as a canvas texture, and the traditional media effects will react to it. The texture image (canvas grain) uses the dark and light areas of the image to create physical texture effects and the pattern lets you apply colors and visible pattern fills to the canvas.

The default background texture will affect all strokes made in the painting unless you set a custom layer texture. If you change the background texture, it will not change strokes that you have already made, but it will affect strokes going forward. So you can sketch out a picture on a smooth paper grain, then load a different preset to paint directly onto a brick pattern canvas.

Individual Layer Textures

You can set each layer to have its own unique canvas texture from the layers menu. This offers the same range of options as the background canvas, and allows you to sketch on a perfectly smooth layer, then switch to watercolor paper and then paint the background on a rough canvas layer.

Paint Texture

Traditional Media Tools

ArtRage’s traditional media tools all interact in some way with the canvas grain, and have their own unique stroke effects. You can usually adjust how much pigment is applied, the shape of the strong and how strongly the canvas grain affects the stroke, by changing different properties in the settings. For example, increasing Thinners for the Oil and Watercolor brushes and Wetness for the Felt Pen, toggling ‘Paper Wet’ for the Watercolor, changing Softness for the Pencil and Pastel tools…

You can also change the appearance of the stroke independently of the canvas grain effects for certain tools. This can be used to mimic a canvas grain on a smooth background, or enhance the effect of an existing one. Adjusting Stiffness for the Oil Brush will change the brush from a solid soft brush to a stiff bristly one, and adjusting Noise Amount and Noise Scale for the Pencil and Pastel tools will change the stroke from a solid line of pigment to a softer, more natural, effect. The Airbrush will allow you to increase Drip Spread to add a randomised scatter around your stroke, or turn the entire stroke into paint splatter dots.

Custom Brush

The Custom Brush tool lets you add a custom grain image, such as a canvas background effect, to the shape of your brush head. This pattern will repeat with every stroke independently of the canvas grain, and you can adjust the way it behaves – for example, you can create a repeating background pattern, like a screentone effect, or simply add a ‘canvas’ or ‘bristle’ texture over every dab.

The Custom Brush also lets you adjust how much canvas grain affects the brush strokes.


Stencils mask your canvas as you paint, so that you can block out areas. You can add any image as a stencil and use it as a separate grain over your canvas – just like the grain for the custom brush. Stencils support transparency, so you can get subtle gradients, rough mossy effects, or just a bunch of dots!

Paint Depth (Bump)

Just like the canvas grain, some of the tools also have depth and allow you to add texture to the layers above. The oil tools (Oil Brush and Paint Tube) are the most effective at building up solid raised areas, and the Glitter Tube lets you add randomised areas of textured dots and shapes.

If you want to change the way that paint texture affects the paint above, change the ‘Bump Blend Mode’ in the layers menu. ‘Maximum’ is the default, and means that new paint texture just builds up on top of paint texture below. ‘Add’ combines with the paint texture below to keep ALL the textures (this is also how the oil paint acts with ‘Insta Dry’ turned on for the same layer) and ‘Replace’ means that texture from the layers below is hidden (replaced) by paint on the new layer.

Layer Effects: Emboss

You can load custom textures to the Emboss effect in the Surface tab. Again, you can load any of the existing canvas textures or add a new preset. Layer effect textures work slightly differently from paper textures, because they are editable visual effects that can be added or removed to the paint on a layer and do not actually affect your stroke. The effect will apply to the entire layer, but is a good way to add non-destructive effects after you have painted your image. The effect will update live as you add new paint.

Paint Depth: Exporting 3D Effects

You can export the stroke data from ArtRage for use in third party 3D programs in two ways. You can either export an individual layer as 3D channels from the layers menu or record a script as you paint and convert the XML code for import into another program. For example, a script for importing to Blender by blendersushi and a video tutorial.