152 free-to-use photographic gradients and background images

There’s some great resources around like SubtlePatterns for getting background images to use for websites and ui backgrounds. However, quite often they still have a repeating pattern or generated feel that you don’t always want. Sometimes you want a more organic background that doesn’t repeat or isn’t quite so clinical.

Two aspects of imagery that I love are natural gradients and natural textures.

By natural gradients I mean the sort of gradients that occur in nature due to the way light and shadow play and reflect on smooth and rough surfaces, and the way light appears in the distance as more or less light is absorbed or scattered by particles in the atmosphere. It’s ironic that pollution and smog can give us some of the most wonderful light effects!


Photography can capture these natural lighting effects and show the surface detail of a material. Photos give us effects it’s almost impossible to achieve using graphic design software.

But something else happens with photography. You get a wonderful grainy artefact due to the way the light is recorded on film or by the camera’s sensors, especially in areas of low light. For me this adds another dimension that just can’t be reproduced by a drawing program or rendering software.

Extracting regions of light, gradient, texture and grain from photos is a great way to make background images for content, so we’ve done the legwork and provided over 150 different images taken from high resolution photos.

They range in width from about 800 to 2000px but all have the same ratio of 4:1.

They’re free to use for any purpose.

Browse the gallery below and if you like what you see, you can download the whole set as a zip file (63Mb).

Download the whole set of 152 images as a zip file (63Mb)