Textures and Patterns Design Showcase

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Textures and patterns are used more often than one may think. The reason why we don’t see them is because they usually remain in the background, supporting the overall design, replacing a standard background color and creating a more inviting atmosphere. But they almost never stand out. Used primarily for background images, they need to fit to the overall design making the content easier to perceive. In fact, wood textures seem to have become so popular that designers suggest that wood is the new glossy style and wood is the new white.

Well, we don’t think that wood is a new revolutionary trend — after all, it was used and explored for years. However, since wood isn’t used everywhere — in correct and wrong contexts — experimenting with it makes perfectly sense. Still, there are a number of options beyond wood: e.g. fabric patterns, tiles, ground, stone, walls, bricks, stiches, cardboard, ceramics, decay, rust, old tapes, illustrations, plastic and glass.

In this post we present a showcase of sites using textures and patterns— we want to focus designer’s attention on design options available beyond wood. Reason: we strongly believe that vibrant, realistic background images are becoming a new trend. If it sounds familiar to you, you are absolutely right: we’ve seen the same trend 8-10 years ago. The sources for the background images are usually either photos (e.g. you can download free textures in the Smashing Texture Library) or illustrations created with Photoshop, Illustration etc.

You may want to take a look at the related articles:

Tiles, Patterns

How do I create a tile or a pattern?

Actually, that’s easier than one might think. For instance, you can use BgPatterns, a free “tiled background designer” which is basically a pattern library where you can find, create, rate and share patterns. You can select one of 68 images (scrolls, stars, flowers, hearts, signs, trees etc.) as well as pick a color of your tile and the pattern will be generated automatically.

You can also apply some effects (dirty, rugged etc.) and rotate the pattern as you wish. The service has a nifty preview option which enables you to generate your background tiles on the fly, download them or store them.

Here is a compact overview of tiles which have been used on some sites presented below:

Screenshot

Showcase of tiles and patterns in modern web design

The Paisley Farmhouse uses nicely packaged retro wallpaper tiles as the background image.

Texture Background Screenshot

Renegade Latino uses dark tiles for the background image. The content should probably be larger.

Textures and Patterns Design - Renegade Latino » Pa' Que Sepan El Poder Latino

t!agOliveira uses a hardly recognizable, dark pattern as the background image. The image supports the content and fits to the overall site layout.

Textures and Patterns Design - t!agOliveira's | onePageFolio

Uniquexports uses patterns and tiles for the background image for an online-shop. The pattern resembles a usual (not desktop) wallpaper. The design looks unusual yet attractive and definitely distinctive.

Textures and Patterns Design - Uniquexport

Noblanco with a background patterns on the left side of the page. The layout is right-aligned for some reason.

Textures and Patterns Design

General Robots uses stars tiles on both the left and the right side of the centered layout. It is also an online-shop.

Textures and Patterns Design - General Robots

Booreiland: any friends of blue, pink and yellow out there?

Textures and Patterns Design - Booreiland - platform for creative productions

Warfield.net with a classic wallpaper patterns…

Texture Background Screenshot

…and so does Designbyfront: the same theme, a different color.

Texture Background Screenshot

Falko Seidel with some tiles which one can find in old sweaters or on indoor walls.

Textures and Patterns Design - ::::: FSEID PORTFOLIO ::::: Falko Seidel :::::

Latviešu Dziesmu svētki with traditional wallpaper tiles.

Textures and Patterns Design - Latviešu Dziesmu svētki

Evernote has a corporate design with quite strange background patterns.

Textures and Patterns Design - Remember everything. | Evernote Corporation

Anthony Clark uses a fading background pattern in the header of his portfolio.

Textures and Patterns Design - antclark.co.uk | Anthony Clark | Online Portfolio

Rob Morris with a classic pattern used as the background image.

Textures and Patterns Design - Rob Morris

Eden Organix is a wellness store with a classic wallpaper pattern.

Textures and Patterns Design - Welcome to Eden Organix - The Finest Organic Skin Care and Cosmetics Products

MiniIcon keeps it to minimal; tiny content area is surrounded by background tiles.

Texture Background Screenshot

Paul Burd uses the same concept.

Texture Background Screenshot

Images and Textures

Ground

Outdoor Italia uses crumbly pieces of the ground as the background image. Other illustrations on the site fit to the background. The ants on the right hand side of the layout are pretty cool.

Textures and Patterns Design - Outdoor Italia official site - Abbigliamento e accessori per l'outdoor, escursionismo, campeggio, trekking

Stone and walls

Soyrosa uses vibrant stone stripes as the background image.

Textures and Patterns Design - SOYROSA.nl / weblog

Pikaboo.be with hard, strong and dark stone and an unusual vertical scrolling.

Texture Background Screenshot

Elliot Jay Stocks uses stones as well and has even a tutorial which explains how to Create a textured background image

Texture Background Screenshot

Nolgraphic makes it differently: a photo of a wall is used.

Texture Background Screenshot

Corner Stone Americus is a church web-site with a grunge look.

Texture Background Screenshot

Bricks

uturn with bricks used as the background image. Here the background fits to the theme of the site which aims to “work togther to uplift street people”.

Textures and Patterns Design - uturn - working togther to uplift street people - homeless.org.za

Hubltd.com with bricks painted in a white color.

Texture Background Screenshot

Illustrations

Tennessee Education uses a vibrant background image with lines from primary school writing books.

Textures and Patterns Design - Education – Main

Springtime in Tennessee is a section on the same site and uses the same approach.

Textures and Patterns Design - Springtime in Tennessee

Dara’s Garden with beautiful flowers which make the background more lively and lovely.

Textures and Patterns Design - Dara’s Garden · Weddings, Receptions and Events in Knoxville, TN

Dean Oakley‘s design isn’t long but wide. Users need to scroll horizontally. The background image (illustration) always remains the same.

Textures and Patterns Design - Dean Oakley - I currently live on the Gold Coast, Australia

DivVoted fills the whole page with a vibrant background image.

Textures and Patterns Design - DivVoted - vote for your favourite designs - another YoDiv site

Stiches and Fabric

the brainwashfactory with stiches and fabric. Notice the sewed header at the top of the site.

Textures and Patterns Design - the brainwashfactory

Design Sponge is dedicated to home and product design which explains why its background image is a fabric.

Texture Background Screenshot

Scouting for Girls doesn’t only offer a “sewed” background image; it has a beautiful ladybug at the bottom as well.

Texture Background Screenshot

Paper and Cardboard

Raufaser with an old paper pattern used as the background image.

Texture Background Screenshot

A-Falange.net uses old-looking paper…

Texture Background Screenshot

RedBull with a huge ragged cardboard. Flash in use.

Texture Background Screenshot

The Brown Corporation uses a similar idea. The site name (Shitbox) is probably not the best title from the marketing perspective.

Texture Background Screenshot

Ceramics

The Letter with a ceramics theme.

Texture Background Screenshot

Decay, Dirt and Grunge

BrightCreative: ornaments and patterns in use.

Texture Background Screenshot

Decay of Intent: the title of the site defines the layout of Alessandro Cammarota’s portfolio. Apparently, the background image stands for decay, the main theme of the site.

Textures and Patterns Design - Decay of Intent :: Alessandro Cammarota Portfolio

Old movie-tape

0hara uses an old movie-tape for the background.

Texture Background Screenshot

Rust

Riders network: riders drive on the roads which is why this riders’ club uses rusty road as the background image.

Textures and Patterns Design - RIDERS NETWORK e.V. - The different lounge for your bike

Life Style Sports has a rusty background image with asymmetric points spread across the background image.

Texture Background Screenshot

Wood

ChamaDigital with a “wood”-theme. Clean and beautiful design.

Textures and Patterns Design - Home | ChamaDigital - Web Design Portfólio

Kyle Haskins uses subtle “woody” background image which doesn’t stand out yet manages to support the content effectively. The design itself is clean and attractive.

Textures and Patterns Design - Kyle Haskins

Robert Strickland uses wood as the background image; the colors in the design are chosen accordingly.

Textures and Patterns Design - happilycreate by Robert Strickland

Slabovia.tv combine a unique retro-design with grid-based approach and with wood. The result is impressive.

Textures and Patterns Design - Slabovia.tv - Unimpressed With The West

Highresolutiontextures with, well, high-resolution textures and the wood used as a background image.

Textures and Patterns Design - highresolutiontextures.com - the home of high quality textures and patterns

Built by Buffalo with a high-quality wood background.

Texture Background Screenshot

Oahu Hawaii real estate attempts to combine grunge with retro and wood. The result is definitely unusual, but in some sense quite appealing.

Textures and Patterns Design - Oahu Hawaii real estate - homes and condos in Honolulu Waikiki Kailua

Rafael van der Vaart: the site uses wood as the background image. Beware: on the site music automatically starts to play.

Textures and Patterns Design - Rafael van der Vaart official football website

Does.ch uses wood, stiches, old paper and grunge together. Well, that’s an unusual combination.

Textures and Patterns Design - Does.ch

WebRevolutionary with the black-white wood.

Texture Background Screenshot

soulBlog uses a wood theme for a 4-column-based design layout. The color of links and headings fits to the theme.

Textures and Patterns Design - soulBlog

Skitnice uses wood not as the background image for the layout, but only as the background for the main content area.

Textures and Patterns Design - Skitnice - bend za svadbe

Paul Wallas with a light falling on the wood.

Texture Background Screenshot

Perfect Order is a Japanese online store with a wooden background.

Texture Background Screenshot

Bfrancesi.com with a dark sprayed “woody” background image.

Texture Background Screenshot

Anthonyfairweather is a producer and designer and he seems to love black wood.

Texture Background Screenshot

Brianwebb.org: surprise, surprise! This design combines two popular background themes, wood in the header and tiles in the footer.

Texture Background Screenshot

Sources and Resources

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Co-Founder of Smashing Magazine. Former writer, web designer, freelancer and webworker. Sven is now writing Science Fiction Stories.

  1. 1

    Again, wonderful content. Thanks Smashing!

    /ryanmerket.com

    1
  2. 2

    Dominik Porada

    July 9, 2008 3:49 pm

    Kicks ass! Thank you SM. :)

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  3. 3

    didn’t take very long for wood backgrounds to get old!

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  4. 4

    Enrique Flouret

    July 9, 2008 4:02 pm

    Thanks for mentioning my 30 Paper backgrounds and textures article.

    I also collected a few grunge textures here:
    http://www.photoshoproadmap.com/Photoshop-blog/2007/08/14/10-grunge-rusty-and-dirty-tileable-textures/

    Thanks again!

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  5. 5

    Wayde Christie

    July 9, 2008 4:08 pm

    René Drieënhuize’s site is a rip of http://digitalmash.com/

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  6. 6

    Brilliant!

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  7. 7

    Oh please. This so-called modern and “in” stuff is not pretty at all. It is not good looking just because some artists who can draw lines in Illustrator or create a wooden-like pattern thinks it is.

    It really hurts the usability and is not exactly easy on the eye. Thanks god for so-called “glossy” pages instead.

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  8. 8

    Textures rocks! I’m using a texture in my portfolio site duoremix, and it’s a great support for the elements.
    I agree with Wayde Christie about the ripoff, Rob Morris is quite talented and doesn’t deserve that. The featuring should be changed from René to Rob Morris, but that’s up to SM editors.

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  9. 9

    Brilliant list! I have been trying to find some cool patterns and this just topped it. Keep it coming.

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  10. 10

    Textures are my weak point so far in web design: my work looks ‘flat’ and uninteresting. This article has really given me a good kick in the pants: I was fascinated by the featured sites. I looked at every single one. Thank you as well for the link to the texture generator: I’ve been looking for a site like this and I was never able to track one down. You just saved me hours and hours and hours of fussing around trying to generate my own textured backgrounds. It’s a great resource.

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  11. 11

    Grant Friedman

    July 9, 2008 7:57 pm

    I have a lot of free high resolution textures on my site http://www.colorburned.com. Feel free to download them and use them in your designs.

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  12. 12

    Great stuff! This left me with a facial expression similar to this: :3~ (drool and all)

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  13. 13

    Trully eyemazing!…

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  14. 14

    Wow! The samples are really awesome! I’ve never seen such designs like Renegade Latino’s or Uniquexport’s! Really amazing!

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  15. 15

    Thanks very much for the Ceramics category guys, much appreciated :-)

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  16. 16

    Wow, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for.
    Where to get good texture backgrounds AND a whole article on the subject.

    “A smashing article!”

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  17. 17

    Some of these designs are really fantastic and seem quite usable, a few though seem to put design before usability.
    As they say: Design is nice but usability is nice too. :)

    Jason
    Designerbay.com

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  18. 18

    Hinduismnet.com

    July 9, 2008 11:59 pm

    While this post rocks as usual, but the sad part is the Web 2.0 look for all the sites… they all have the same bloggish design built on some wordpress or some CMS.

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  19. 19

    Some of these designs are really nice and seem quite usable, a few though seem to put design before usability.
    As they say: Design is nice but usability is nice too. :)

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  20. 20

    Falko Seidel’s photo of the on/off-Switch could be a great style switcher as well!

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  21. 21

    great examples.

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  22. 22

    Brilliant stuff, really loving this style

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  23. 23

    IMO some of those backgrounds are a bit to busy and take away from the design. Pattern is good when its subtle.

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  24. 24

    briiliant :D

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  25. 25

    That’s given me some much-needed inspiration!

    I’m sure good designers could use textures well and still keep the usability of cleaner sites. It’s all about finding the balance.

    1
  26. 26

    Valeriy Mishkorez

    July 10, 2008 4:29 am

    i can’t belive it! Very impressive, thanks!

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  27. 27

    cool
    ali me zanima ko radi recenzije ovih Hrvatskih sajtova?
    hvala

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  28. 28
  29. 29

    LMAO, Shitbox is genious!

    Anyway’s my site uses a natural background image, check it out:

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  30. 30

    Please change the link to restroom.nl to digitalmash.com, as it is a rip. Rob Morris deserves the exposure, not a lazy ripper.

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  31. 31

    Nice showcase

    Shit Box is a great title for marketing! You’ll never forget it. Lighten up…

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  32. 32

    Great list, thanks!

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  33. 33

    I think buzzine.com is another good example of retro tiles

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  34. 34

    It looks like Rene Dreieehuize and Rob Morris are “hand twins”

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  35. 35

    Amazing!

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  36. 36

    great collection this defiantly limits my bg search and is great inspiration.

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  37. 37

    I loved this post. Very useful :)

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  38. 38

    Thanks for noticing my design! I’m using a photograph I made myself one day, a picture I instantly fell in love with. See this link for a full view of the picture.

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  39. 39

    Some of these look great but it makes me wonder…

    What is the average document size people strive for nowadays?

    Some of these easily reach 900kb!

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  40. 40

    Please don’t encourage rippers.

    Not only has Rene Dreieehuize stolen my design concept, but he’s actually used the same images (of MY HANDS) on his website.

    The real website: http://www.digitalmash.com

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  41. 41

    Thanks for the article. By any chance do you know of any tutorials about how to create tiling patterns for background use or for textiles? I’ve read Veerle’s which is very good but I’d like to see if there are any other out there.

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  42. 42

    wow!! very good work above there!

    bin beeindruckt! good inspiration!

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  43. 43

    Jan Dienstknecht

    July 11, 2008 2:58 am

    Hi there!

    I found this nice character illustration pattern via a friends blog:
    http://www.jam-factory.com/

    Should be mentioned here!

    Greetings from Germany,

    0
  44. 44

    René Drieënhuize’s site is a filthy rip of Link [digitalmash.com]

    0
  45. 45

    Francois - Less is more -

    July 11, 2008 6:21 am

    Merci beaucooup

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  46. 46

    Wow, thanks for including our Shit Box site [thebrowncorporation.com]

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  47. 47

    Thanks for cool review ;).

    For example we use some interesting pattern for BG (http:www.driveblog.ru).

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  48. 48

    Take down René Drieënhuize site, it is blatant rip

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  49. 49

    Absolutely awesome. I wish I had that sort of artistic flair. Totally kick ass.

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  50. 50

    Nice finds as usual… shame to see René Drieënhuize being featured though, when he’s shamelessly ripped off Rob Morris’ design http://www.digitalmash.com. I’ve noticed that he’s now removed the hands (Rob’s hands…). Nice admission of guilt there buddy. Now maybe get rid of the rest of the bits you stole and you might have an original design!

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  51. 51

    René Drieënhuize with a classic pattern used as the background image.

    René is also a THIEF

    None of his site’s design is original

    those hands are a direct rip, among other things

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  52. 52

    I hope the SM magazine editors are reading this;

    I don’t know if you’ve been informed directly but you are crediting someone for violating someones copyright. René Drieënhuize shamelessly stole and ripped off from http://www.digitalmash.com. Looks VERY bad on you guys for posting this! You probably want to rectify this ASAP!

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  53. 53

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    July 14, 2008 1:20 pm

    @Rach and other commenters: thanks, the link was replaced.

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  54. 54

    Cheers guys.

    0
  55. 55

    Agust Gudbjornsson

    July 15, 2008 11:24 am

    Very nice article, but there is always little but…

    There are of course allot more sites in this style range but I´m dissapointed in you guys for not showing my site here hehe ;o) Since I have all my branding materials, even business card made out of wood ;o)

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  56. 56
  57. 57

    I love Renegade Latino’s site but shame its totally knacked in IE6 and not too hot in IE7, presumably because of the lack of png support.

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  58. 58

    What amazing designs. I feel so inspired!

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  59. 59

    Awesome collection!

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  60. 60

    Wow there are some great sites on here

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  61. 61

    SoulBlog should maybe create their own wooden background instead of stealing one that someone else has spent time creating!!

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  62. 62

    Ed Lynn, you got right. But doesnt anyone know how to avoid this png and IE problem? I think they should not make such a shadows because of this situation.

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  63. 63

    Thanks Smashing for including my site in this great list

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  64. 64

    Hasan Tayyar BEŞİK

    November 20, 2008 9:12 am

    Really good collection.
    Usefull (if their bg.s are free to use), i don’t know the licences for all that sites.

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  65. 65

    Hi. Good site.

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  66. 66

    RUBBISH

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  67. 67

    There are several really easy ways to get texture in Adobe Illustrator. If you go under “effect” towards the bottom of the drop down you will be given all kinds of options to edit your image.
    Have fun!
    -Brian
    Link

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  68. 68

    Thanks smashing
    Amazing !!!!!!!!!!

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  69. 69

    Great post, lot’s of texture examples :)

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  70. 70

    Is blogengine better than wordpress in some manner? Really needs to be as it’s becoming more popluar as of late.

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  71. 71

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