I would like to apply an effect to the whole artboard (all elements), so that the colors don't look too monotone.

It should look like this (found it here):

enter image description here

I think this effect is called Grain. So I selected all elements in my artboard and went Effect > Texture > Grain.

Now I have two problems:

(1) Round objects look pixelated

This is how it looks in Illustrator: enter image description here

When I export it, it looks better, but still more pixelated than without the grain effect:

enter image description here

(2) The file size increases enormously

Without the grain effect the picture with circle and rectangle has 7KB. With the effect 326KB.


How can I solve these two problems? Should I export it without an effect, and apply it in another program? And is this effect even called grain?

Summarized: What should I do to get the same effect like in the referenced picture, while keeping a "small" export size and having smooth round objects?


2 Answers 2


1. Create a new layer above your artwork.

enter image description here

2. Create a shape over the whole artboard (or the area you want the texture applied to).

3. Apply your Grain (Effects → Texture → Grain).

enter image description here

4. With your textured shape selected, open the transparency palette (Window → Transparency) and change the blending mode.

Different blending modes will have different results. I suggest starting with Multiply.

enter image description here

You can use whatever color layer you want, white will work but I usually go for a slight off-white but it completely depends on the effect you want.

If you only want the texture applied to a certain area just mask off the texture.

The file size is increasing because Grain is a raster effect, you are basically embedding a raster image in your Illustrator file. You can just as easily (and I often do) create the image in Photoshop (or your preferred image editing program) and place it in your Illustrator file as a linked file. This solves the file size problem, but you now also have 2 files to worry about.

You can achieve the same effect by using a textured image.

  • Or use gray and overlay
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 14:59
  • overlay messes with colors too much in my experience—but, yes. endless possibilities with a mixture of different colors, blending modes and opacity levels etc etc etc.
    – Cai
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 15:11
  • 1
    If you have a exact mid tone gray (127,127,127 in rgb mode) then you will end up with the same effect as applying the effect on the object itself without rasterization.
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 15:28
  • Great solution! I would like to add though that, if someone wants to export as SVG (which I was), then it’s probably not a good idea to have textures, because it turns it into raster and looks weird. So, in that case using a PNG (2× or 3×) is a better solution!
    – fat
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 13:40

The answer already given is the best solution, but to solve the pixelated edges. just make a copy of the shape above the grain effect, and make a clipping mask. gives you as clean edge.

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