Texture is how artists show what an object would feel like to touch. This can have a dramatic effect on how an image is perceived. Imagine for instance an image that has a figure surrounded by hard, metallic objects, creating a feeling of cold, mechanical indifference. Contrast that with the same image but the figure is now surrounded by soft marshmallow like objects creating a feeling of comfort and cloying sentimentality. The context of the piece has changed dramatically merely by changing the texture of the objects in the image.
The way that light hits an object's high and low spots will determine its textural qualities. The use of texture can create an object that is hard or soft, rough or smooth, transparent or opaque. By varying tonal values in the images below different textures have been created, in the image to the left coarse fibres and the image to the right, hard tiles.
In the example below the artist has captured the textures of a variety of objects in great detail by paying attention to the way that light reflects from certain objects and is absorbed by others and the way that certain objects are smooth and unblemished and others that arerough and coarse to the touch.