Design & UX
By Jennifer Farley

The Art of the Web Background

By Jennifer Farley

Looking around the web, you’ll find some designers creating web sites with a unique look and feel through the use of the artistic backgrounds. On these sites, the background plays a major role in giving the site a personality — whether it’s fun, serene or simply says “I’m mad, I am.”

So let’s take a look at a number of sites that are showing artful work with their backgrounds. Some of these sites are personal portfolios of designers and illustrators, some are for larger companies but all of them are interesting to look at.

Creative With A K is a flash-based web site with a busy, busy background which gives the impression of a sketchbook page. The line drawings fill the entire background and are also part of the navigation.


Camellie is a portfolio web site and features the artist’s drawings in the bottom left of the background. The drawings are static and stay in place as you navigate through the site.


The Morphix home page features a vector style drawing of a scene of country life with the big city off in the distance. It conveys a nice sense of harmony.


On each refresh of The Big Chill web site, you’ll find a different brightly colored, loosely drawn background which gives a fun feel to this festival site.


The Noel Design site has a tactile feel thanks to the use of paper cut-out drawings.


Mauricio Studios has a stunning flash site which scrolls beautifully show off a pretty big background image. This one really is a treat for the eyes.


Jetset has a lovely illustrated border which remains in place as you navigate through the site.


At the moment Magnivate has a “Coming Soon” page featuring some nice watercolor artwork in the background. Check out their old site (the link is on the coming soon page) because that also includes some lovely character drawings.


Ozhan features a gentle Japanese scene on each page.


Absolutely stunning work from It’s another flash site but the background illustration combined with the movement of the waves as you navigate is really beautifully done.


What do you think of the artistic backgrounds used in these sites? Is it a style you like?

  • Thanks for this overview – I’m going to rethink a background I have to do this week.

  • These are beautiful backgrounds. But when I saw the title of the article I thought it was going to be a quick tut on how to create that kind of background. I would love to see a tutorial based on this subject. Any ideas on where to find one (or many)?

  • _mddesign (Matt Duffy)

    I think these sites are beautiful and i’m sure the creators are incredibly talented, but I feel like making a site so radically different is off-putting to potential clients/customers. If you are confusing and/or overwhelming them when they try to navigate your site, they are going to feel uneasy about going into business with you, no? I think there needs to be a balance of usability and creativity there.

  • Thanks guys for the comments.

    @Ruth off the top of my head I haven’t seen a tutorial on this, but I’m sure they exist. I might revisit this myself in a few weeks.

    @Matt yep I absolutely agree with you that some of these sites could be offputting for some visitors. That’s why it’s important to know exactly who your target audience is. Most of these are for creative businesses where potential customers will want to see creativity but they are definitely not suitable for *every* audience.

  • Aldo

    The good folks over at put up a really clever background some time ago. The background image changes as you scroll to the bottom of the page!

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