How to make a cool website background

By , last updated July 3, 2017


In this tutorial we will show how to make a beautiful, colorful background from a simple photo. Here’s the result that we will produce:

colorful sunset in Thailand with abstract overlay background sftextures final image for design tutorial

First, we choose our main photo for a start background. This picture can be anything. The only requirement that you should like it. Here I’ve chosen a beautiful sunset view of mountains and ocean from Phi Phi islands in Thailand:

evening-thailand-water-in-sunlight-dark-mountains-on-phi-islands-tree-leaves-foreground-small-kayak-boat-in-ocean-stock-image1.jpg

We are going to use GIMP that is a free tool for photo editing to make the background. It is a great tool and very easy tool to use. Just download it from gimp.org and begin making creations!

Here’s a short description of what to do:

1. Find your starting point – a photo you like. Or download the one I used at sftextures.com.

2. Open the image in GIMP.

3. Now we are going to improve colors of the image. The main picture should ideally be bright and colorful with several tones of red, green and blue in order to look good. Our image is bright and that is good, but it lacks some contrast and more colors.

Choose Colors -> Brightness and Contrast and give it some more contrast and less brightness in order to sharp it.

adjust contrast and brightness of the background picture for tutorial

4. Next step is to give it more color. Choose Colors -> Color Balance and adjust Highlights of the picture. Experiment with other values for your own image.

adjust color and highlights of the background picture for tutorial

5. Choose a pattern to use it as an overlay over the image. It’s better to use transparent pattern (.png pictures). I took this pattern of some abstract swirls:

ornament-swirly-diagonal-repeating-black-flower-like-creature-seamless-preview-background-texture.jpg

6. My overlay image is small and seamless. It means that I can repeat it many times and no edges will be visible – this is called a pattern. If you downloaded my swirly image then you need to make it a GIMP pattern first. Short on how to do it:
1. Open pattern as a new layer.
2. Click Ctrl + C to copy the pattern
3. Then Edit -> Paste as -> New Pattern

More detailed description of the process here.

7. Create a new layer and click Edit -> Fill with Pattern. Give this new layer opacity of around 10%. Your image should look something like this now:

colorful sunset background with swirly transparent pattern overlay

8. Last step is to create a new layer and write some text. Remember to have contrast between text and background. I have black mountains so I’ve chosen white letters.

Here is a final image:

colorful sunset in Thailand with abstract overlay background sftextures final image for design tutorial