Backgrounds are the unspoken heroes of graphic design-adding texture, interest and detail to layouts, they´ll be the hardest-working images in your collection.
We´ve tracked down ten essential backgrounds that every designer should have to hand, from simple grunge styles to complex star-laden nebulas.
Looking for a wider selection of background styles? Browse a huge range of cool texture images over on Envato Market.
Read on to discover the background textures that should play an everyday part in your design process...
1. The Concrete Background
Looking to give your designs an instant cool edge? Concrete textures can look grungy and distressed, or minimal and urban-take your pick from this selection of concrete backgrounds to find the perfect partner for your designs.
Concrete is an on-trend material across the board right now-in interior and product design, as well as graphics-so it makes a great addition to designs that need to look contemporary and aspirational.
Designing a website for a new retail brand? Putting together a promo flyer for a design event? Consider integrating a concrete texture* into your artwork, and make your media seem on-trend in an instant.
*Top Tip: Concrete can appear cold in the wrong context-warm up your design by pairing the texture with a warmer metallic tone, like copper.
2. The Space Background
We´ve all wanted to be an astronaut at some point in our childhood (or, indeed, adulthood), but you can bring a touch of celestial wonder to your designs without leaving Earth.
Scenic space backgrounds might not be the plainest of backgrounds, but they are surprisingly versatile. They look fantastic layered behind poster artwork, and can help to create a completely immersive online experience when placed as a background skin on a homepage.
Space backgrounds have a distinctive psychological effect on the viewer-they can inspire feelings of adventure, risk-taking and intellectualism (perfect for science media or business pitch documents), but they are also incredibly calming. To boot, they are also breathtakingly beautiful, and require only simple typography in the foreground to make them shine.
Check out this selection of space nebula backgrounds, which has a huge range of different color tones to suit any project.
3. The Grunge Background
Grunge backgrounds will never go out of style-they always give a cool, informal edge to designs. Look for peeled paint textures, faded edges, and deep, murky color schemes.
Grunge backgrounds look great because they contain so much texture and visual interest. They are versatile too-try layering them under photos and setting the opacity to Multiply to bring through some of that interesting texture and give your images an aged, vintage-style effect.
Try adding a grunge background to a festival flyer, a gig poster or a magazine cover to add depth and interest. These unique grunge backgrounds will also look fantastic placed in games and apps, bringing a more immersive quality to digital designs.
4. The Polygon Background
Polygons might not seem like the most exciting building block for a background, but the final effect is incredibly versatile and professional-looking.
Polygon textures have a tech-forward style that would suit corporate designs, like reports, business websites or expo displays. They are a great way to add polished texture quickly, which is a great timesaver for corporate pitches. They also have a very modern, even futuristic quality that helps businesses to look forward-thinking and 'with the times´.
If you´re looking to add texture to apps, polygon designs are perfectly suited for the job-they´re stylish without being obtrusive, and they balance flat and 3D styles to keep your designs looking on-trend.
You can adapt polygon textures easily to different color schemes too-take a look at the beautiful selection of colors in this polygon backgrounds package.
5. The Blackboard Background
Blackboard backgrounds will be a real workhorse for your design projects. Set behind typography, they´re great for emphasizing points in sales pitches, on educational materials, or on motivational posters or flyers.
Team a blackboard texture with a handwritten or, even better, chalkboard typeface for the ultimate back-to-school pairing. This will work just as well on college lecture slides as it will for advertising early Fall sales with a back-to-school theme.
Blackboard backgrounds don´t need to be black either! Liven up a conventional blackboard texture with chalky, muted shades, as in this blackboard image collection.
6. The Watercolor Background
Want to add a painterly, artistic touch to your designs? Watercolor backgrounds are perfect for bringing an organic, hand-done style to your work, without ever needing to pick up a paintbrush.
Watercolor textures aren´t just suited to advertising art sales-because they represent something that is hand-crafted, they are perfectly suited to branding and packaging for organic products or independent businesses. Try integrating them into cosmetics or jewellery box designs to add a home-made, beautiful touch.
Watercolor textures can bring a very different character to your layouts when set in different colorways. In this watercolor texture collection, a clear turquoise blue has a summer holiday vibe (great for hotel flyers or websites); a bright red gives has a bold graffiti feel, and an olive green, navy blue and black blend (pictured) has a natural style, which would also swing towards a grungy look if darkened.
7. The Bokeh Background
Bokeh backgrounds are made up of abstract light pixels to create a camera-like effect. They can add an ethereal, dreamy quality to your designs.
Suited to all sorts of media, bokeh textures are great for softening layouts, helping to add a beautiful, soft-focus style to websites, magazines, book covers-you name it. Bokeh backgrounds have an innately feminine style, which makes them perfect for fashion catalogues, wedding stationery, or for simply showcasing beautiful photos or typography.
Keep a collection of bokeh backgrounds to hand for when a client wants to tone down a design or make it appear more soft and calming.
8. The Paper Background
I personally use a paper background in most of my design projects, and am building quite the collection as a result. Paper images add subtle texture to posters, flyers, stationery, and web pages.
For vintage-inspired and flat-style designs, a paper background is indispensable-see your designs magically transform from crisp and contemporary to suitably aged in an instant.
Even if you´re intending to print your items on paper or card, adding a 'fake´ paper background will only add to the tactile feel of your finished item. It´s also a great trick for making a printed item feel more luxurious if your budget won´t stretch to printing on expensive, textured paper.
This collection of paper backgrounds includes a range of color washes, from cooler grey tones through to warmer pastels.
9. The Brick Background
Bricks are a great texture to have to hand, ideal for showcasing framed images against, or sitting behind graffiti-style typography.
Brick backgrounds provide enough interest to be the main visual feature of a layout, while remaining uniform enough to allow text to stand out. They can have a worn, grungy look, or a clean, red-brick style, making them suitable for a range of projects and styles.
This broad range of brick textures has styles to suit every taste, from clean burnt terracotta to aged-looking maroon.
10. The White Background
Without a doubt the most versatile of all the backgrounds in your collection, a basic range of white textures will become a firm favorite for using in your design projects.
Even though white backgrounds lack color and an out-there design, they are flexible and provide an instant solution for adding that much sought-after professional look. Set behind graphics, typography and even other textures on posters, stationery, websites, cards and covers, they give an instant 'texture-boost´.
This collection of white textures contains 46 hi-res backgrounds, with fabric, paper, wood and brick accents. Try it out and watch it quickly become the most used background in your collection.
Your Ultimate Background Collection
Backgrounds are the backbone of any great design layout, adding subtle texture, interest and color while allowing stronger elements to shine. This collection of 10 essential backgrounds will see you through any design project, whatever the theme and whoever the client...
With this unbeatable team of textures to hand, I hope you´ll find your future design projects look just that bit more professional and striking.