Tired of the same old solid backdrops? Get inspired with these 10 background ideas, full of trendy alternative looks to use in your projects.
A versatile and on-trend background is the backbone of any good design. Whether you’re creating a mock-up of your branding concepts, looking for a cool backdrop for your print layouts or looking for background ideas to use in your photo edits, here you’ll find a selection of alternative textures to use in your designs.
From on-trend terrazzo textures to atmospheric bokeh, you’ll be sure to find some background ideas here to inspire you.
1. Fresh Pastels
Pastel backgrounds are having a moment in graphic design right now. Gentle and cheering, pastel tones look fantastic as the backdrop to packaging mock-ups. Because we often associate pastel colors with childhood, a pastel background feels youthful and fun. It’s a quick and simple way to make your brand designs appeal to a Millennial market, or simply to play down the seriousness of a design.
Look for ice-cream tones of pistachio, mint and lemon on papery textures, or opt for gradient pastels in warm corals and pinks for Millennial appeal.
Marble and stone backgrounds have been popular with designers for a while now, due to their ability to lift images into luxury territory. In fact, this natural luxury is one of the biggest creative trends of 2018. But with many brands using white marble to make their products look more high-end, we’re experiencing serious marble fatigue. While you can find some exciting new updates on the marble trend (see item 3, below), alternative stone textures are also starting to gain trend traction.
Terrazzo textures look luxe in photo format, or friendly as vector illustrations. Keep your terrazzo background looking youthful and retro with a pastel color palette, or choose earthy tones, like deep terracottas and jade greens, for a more sophisticated take on the trend.
3. Metallic Marble
Nothing looks quite as luxurious and elegant as marble, which is why so many designers are drawn to the stone texture when they’re creating advertising images and stationery designs for high-end brands. While white marble textures looks expensive, they’re also now alarmingly commonplace.
Avoid white marble saturation by choosing a more glamorous incarnation. Marble streaked with gold, silver or copper is unashamedly flashy and seductive, and suits a wide range of purposes, from restaurant branding to special packaging.
For a classic look, white marble streaked with gold is beautiful, but you can up the alternative factor by seeking out images of marbles and stones with unusual colors, patterns and metallic flecks.
This background style pays tribute to Eighties design. Colorful sunset duotones with soft-focus gradients add a dreamlike quality to layouts, and are an instant way of making your designs look up-to-date. Team with neon typography for a modern take on retro style.
Flat duotone textures are also really popular across packaging mock-ups right now. Stick to a pastel color palette to double up on your trends.
5. Abstract Geometric
Although busy in style, geometric patterns and textures are able to lift simple designs instantly. They’re a great way to showcase logo designs or packaging. Pastels and neons combine with deep, moody colors to create an atmospheric backdrop for typography and vector graphics.
Minimal Eighties-inspired shapes are made modern with gradient effects and a balanced color palette. If you’re craving something even brighter, dip a toe into psychedelic-style backgrounds that combine organic lava lamp shapes with sunset color combinations.
6. Concrete and Plaster
If you want to give your designs a modern, urban edge or grunge effect, steer clear of scratch textures or paper overlays. Subtle concrete backgrounds and plastered walls look minimal and stylish in the backdrop of photos and web designs.
Soft shades of grey look great paired with monochrome designs, as well as tempering brightly colored mock-ups.
7. Abstract Neon
Abstract neon designs with a futuristic, Tron-inspired looks are the new update on popular low-poly backgrounds. Soft neon light effects set against pitch black give instant games-inspired style to product mock-ups and photos. These backgrounds also look great on slides and videos which need a bit of livening up.
8. Hand-Drawn Memphis Patterns
Here, two growing trends for busier backgrounds and Eighties style combine. Memphis Style patterns are having a moment, and can be seen everywhere from club night flyers to restaurant menus and app designs.
A more subtle take on the trend rendered in a monochrome, hand-drawn style looks much cooler and more understated. These background ideas work brilliantly on packaging (try it for food and cosmetics products) and stationery, adding a playful and fun look. Look for patterns that use ultra-simple shapes and minimal color for the most modern and stylish take on the Memphis trend.
9. Light Particles
Bokeh backgrounds add an ethereal effect to photos and are often used in advertising to add mystery and luxury to images. Perfect for jewelry or cosmetics ads, a subtle light particle background creates more depth and dimension in your designs, helping subjects look like they are stepping off the page.
Metallic or glitter elements up the glamor factor, while subtle dust particle backgrounds add an atmospheric backdrop to titling. Use as a background for text effects to give your designs movie-like style.
10. Dust Explosion
Looking for a way to make your logos really stand out? Setting a simple design against an explosive plume of powder is atmospheric and dramatic, and can give your designs a high-end editorial feel. You’ll recognise these sorts of backgrounds being used in phone and electronics advertising, where the quality of the screen needs to be highlighted. However, dust explosion images also make for beautiful and unique backdrops to graphic designs.
Pair colored graphics with a simple black-and-white background, or look for colored chalk or dust in bright shades of blue or pink to make your designs look fun.
Bonus: FREE Distressed Textures
Want more background ideas? Try adding a retro or grunge look to your designs with our pack of 25 handmade distressed textures. You can apply them to any background, image, or typography for a customized and professionally designed look. Download your free textures here.
Want more design inspiration? Check out these articles for tips, tricks, and tutorials:
- 5 Text Layout Tips for Setting Headlines in Your Design
- Learn How to Make 3D Text in Illustrator With Simple Drop Shadows
- How to Use Illustrator to Create Isometric Typography
- Add Character to Your Text with Patterned Clipping Masks
- How to Use the Type Tool in Illustrator to Alter Sample Text
Top Image by CARACOLLA