Analog Absurdity

10 Must-Know Tips to Make Your Digital Artwork Look Like It's Been Through the Wringer

Tip #1: Texturize!

Textures can add a tactile quality to your artwork and give it a sense of depth that's hard to achieve with digital techniques alone. Thankfully, adding texture to your work can be as easy as 1-2-3.


  1. Texture overlays. Premade image files or patterns you can apply and adapt using blend modes.
  2. Brushes. Quality brushes give you more control over the placement of the texture and allow you to blend it into your artwork seamlessly.
  3. Texture templates. The middle ground between overlays and brushes. Pre-built templates give you authentic results fast.

Tip #2: Scratch and Scuff

Embrace imperfections by adding scratches, scuffs, and other marks to your digital artwork. It'll look more like it's been in the real world. Just don't overdo it, you still want your viewers to know what they're seeing!

Check out our blog post How to Create Print Distress

Tip #3: Vintage Vibes

Get your digital art looking more like it's from the good ol' days by using a color palette that mimics vintage artwork and other old-timey materials.

💡 Hint: Try color-picking from vintage images until you can get the hang of making your own palettes.

Download a FREE RetroSupply Color Guide

Tip #4: Add Noise

Like other forms of texture, adding noise is a fast and easy way to bring depth and charm into your digital artwork. One of our favorite ways to do this is to set the layer's blend mode to Overlay at a low opacity.

Watch this video to learn how to add noise to your work

Tip #5: Research

You might not need an excuse to hit your local antique mall, but referencing source material is a great way to get inspired and see what techniques were used back in the day.

You can find these resources online too!

Tip #6: Blend Analog & Digital

Don't be afraid to blend analog and digital techniques to create a unique look. For example, you could scan in your own textures and then manipulate it in a digital program.

Check out this tutorial to learn how to make your own analog textures.

Don't have the time or equipment? Try pre-made textures made from analog materials.

Tip #7: Experiment with Halftones

Halftones are a common element in analog artwork. Try experimenting with different patterns (dots or lines) and densities to achieve the right look.

Discover the history of halftones to elevate your design and illustration.

Tip #8: Until You Make It, Fake It

Brush up on design and illustration history. A knowledge of past styles and techniques will help to inform your decisions and give you a larger creative palette.

A great place to start is our three-part series on how to emulate the look of print and texture in your digital art.

Tip #9: Typefaces

The right fonts can make or break a design. How do you know which is suitable for your design? You can experiment and see what works or look for font bundles that fit a specific style.

Want to experiment with some free fonts? Here are 50 of the best free retro and vintage fonts.

Tip #10: Keep It Simple

It can be easy to overdo it when working with textures or new tools. We get it; they're exciting! Before throwing everything at the wall, stick to one technique until you have the hang of it. You'll get better results.

Products for Your Favorite Software