For computer graphics artists, our lovely world-wide-web is a great place to find quality content such as textures, which are used in 2D and 3D graphics applications. In this article, six great texture sites are discussed. Obviously, these websites offer their textures for free.

What are textures?

In visual art, texture is the perceived surface quality of an artwork. We see something same with digital art, where textures can influence the surface enormously. Textures are in short images of (often) repeatable patterns as stones, bricks, wood, metal, etc. But remember, they are not always repeatable, as they also can be an image of a window, a door, buildings, etc. Textures themselves are most times 2d, but they can influence 3d geometry. They are used in 3D Applications for well, giving color and texture to a defined shape, but also to alter geometry or to fake geometry (using bump or normal mapping). Below is an example of a not textured 3D-Cube, and a cube textured with a simple concrete texture. When texture is added to a 3D model to add any detail, it is called Texture Mapping. In addition, textures are also very popular in 2D software such as Adobe Photoshop. In my Lovely Wallpaper Tutorial, I use a texture for ‘roughing out’ a background of a wallpaper.

Are you in search for HDR images? I wrote an article with an overview of 7 HDRI websites which offer free HDRI maps.

A list of texture sites

The images are linked to the described sites. At the end of each site description a short information is given about the resolutions (high, around 2560×1920, medium (around 1600×1200) and small (around 800×600 and smaller)), watermarks and how you may use textures. What we also see is that most texture sites offer also sky maps and backdrops, but a few sites with only good sky maps and backdrops are pointed out.

CGTextures.com ›

The worls largest free texture site, according to the website itself. And they have a point, because they have a lot of categories, from animals to even pictures of x-rays! Most textures are available in small, medium and large to download, and quick information about the filesize and resolution is available. However, it has a (daily) quotum of 15mb, since they don’t like you to stockpile their textures by massive downloads. If you want to download more textures daily, you can take one of their paid memberships plans. They also have some great tutorials on how to modify textures. This is a great site if you just need any texture, but don’t need many.

  • Resolution: High, Medium and Low
  • Quota: Yes, 15mb, but paid plans are available.
  • License: Free to use private and commercial. Redestributing of unmodified work is however prohibited.
  • Watermark: No

Mayang’s Texture Library ›

This site offers some really nice textures to download, but they are all watermarked. They have over 4350 free to download textures, which makes them a really large resource. However be aware of the watermarks, as they are quickly visible in renders. They also have to possibility to order all textures on DVD.

  • Resolution: Most High, Some Medium
  • Quota: Yes, 20 downloads per day per IP, but you can also download every texture for 33 US Dollar.
  • Use: Free to use as long as your artistic effort is visible. Redistributing, selling of unmodified work, and using the textures by any way that competes with the website, is of course prohibited.
  • Watermark: Yes, minor in the corner of the textures.

Mega Tex High Quality Textures ›

This site again, has a lot of textures, almost 8000, to download. The website says high quality textures, but don’t expect many textures to have resolutions as we found on other sites. The advantage is that the textures have no watermark, but they may not used commercial and the original authors rights must be respected all times. Most of their quality reflects in the quantity, and their site design and lay out (ordering of textures) could be better.

  • Resolution: Medium, Low
  • Quota: They don’t seem to have one.
  • License: Free to use private, but prohibited to use commercial. Redistributing in any way is not allowed.
  • Watermark: No

Image After ›

Besides having a lot of textures, this website has a large collection of photographs.  While their search results are not always satisfying, they offer a very great amount of images with little creative rights. Having over 28000 free images, this site is a great reference and stock resource. However, do not many expect quality and ready-made textures as on CGTextures, as many textures are unedited photographs.

  • Resolution: Most High, Medium
  • Quota: There is no daily quota for downloads.
  • License: Free to use private and commercial altered, free to use both altered and unaltered as a printed work. Redistributing unaltered online, or behaving as a competitor, is not allowed.
  • Watermark: NO

Texture King ›

TextureKing is a small-sized library of around 422 textures. Most of their textures are pretty neat and have higher file dimensions. The site itself is pretty straightforward, which makes it easy to download textures on an individual basis.

  • Resolution: Large, Medium
  • Quota: No quota
  • License: The site itself states: “The stock photographs on this site are free for use in any situation by anyone with only one exception. DO NOT sell, redistribute, or host any of the stock photos that are found on this site.”.
  • Watermark: No

Texture Palace ›

Texture Palaces offers one of the most up to date collection of textures and is updated frequently. The only drawback is that textures can’t be downloaded in packages because the images are hosted on Flickr, and only on individual basis.

  • Resolution: Large, Medium
  • Quota: No quota
  • License: Their is no indication about any license on their site. However, their textures are hosted via Flickr, and there most of their textures are licensed via Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 Generic, meaning you can use it commercially.
  • Watermark: No

Other sources for quality textures

Many of the major stock-photographs websites, such as Shutterstock, Fotolia, Dreamstime and iStock have huge amounts of textures in their databases. However, these are of course all paid. Any other option is to go out and shoot textures yourself. If you have the time, this is a great way to get basic textures of bricks, walls, floors and so forth.