25 Designs Inspired by the Natural Environment
Need an idea for your new site design?
Why not look to nature for your inspiration? Today we’ll look at 25 sites either loosely or strictly inspired by some facet of the natural world.
Along the way we’ll discuss four popular trends that most nature inspired sites fit into.
There are a ton of sites online that feature a floating terrestrial object covered in grass, trees, flowers and/or water (this trend has no doubt been on the rise since the movie Avatar). Before you jump on the floating island bandwagon, take a look at what others have done and consider how you can make yours unique.
Narhir Design is an excellent implementation of the floating island concept. The idea is stretched all over the site so that even column headers and navigation elements look like they are floating.
This site features a really unique 3D animation illusion. As you move your mouse around the screen the viewing angle of the island and the eagle shifts. It’s a little distracting but quite impressive!
I really like the overloaded look that this floating island has. It’s completely engulfed in plant life and features several animated elements.
PSD to WP
This one definitely reminds me the most of the sea of floating islands seen on Avatar. The cartoony look and bright sunburst make for a very inviting environment.
This trend is much less popular and in my opinion, quite impressive. Creating a painted scene for the background of your site is no easy task. It can involve a high level of artistic skill that many web designers simply don’t possess. The payoff is a beautiful and original site design.
This site really stood out to me as being a good implementation of a hand painted background. It’s hard to find a decent wintery painted scene in website design so kudos to the designers for being unique!
Solace Bees Wax
The dark rich colors in this site really grab your attention and set a mood quite unlike any other site in this list. Click the thumbnail to check out the subtle animated effect of the candle flames.
Old Spice Manmercial YouTube Page
I love the textured painted style of this page. It features a ship tossed on the stormy high seas and a harsh vignette. It really sets the stage for the intended masculinity page.
This has a very “wet brush” look that sets it apart from its counterparts above in a nice way. The illustration is farily simple but also very attractive.
Photographic nature inspired graphics are by far the most popular trend I noticed in nature inspired sites. They are almost always a heavy mix of actual photographs and some clever Photoshop work. Photographic textures and landscapes can provide your site with a rich sense of natural beauty not easily created through other means.
Scattered coffee beans and excellent photographic plant life make this site a visual treat. It’s currently just a “coming soon” page so I can’t wait to see the full site when it launches.
It seems as if there is no end to the websites using wooden texture backgrounds. Some do this with style and flair while others make it look like a cobbled together, messy Photoshop job. This site pulls it off nicely by pulling your attention toward the center with a wide photographic landscape.
This site features a simple high-noise photographic element in the top right that really makes for a nice textured background effect.
Huge landscapes make for an inescapably eye-catching page. This one features a forest filled mountain range that stretches across the entire browser for an impressive view.
Grass is the main design element of a number of nature inspired websites. This one uses both an overhead view and a side view to really fill your field of vision with green goodness.
This site features some impressive Photoshop work that creates the illusion of a natural photographic landscape. The look is very well implemented and really gives the header a nice open feel.
This site uses beautiful foggy mountains in the background and lush foliage in the foreground to really convey a relaxed, zen-like atmosphere. If you stare at it long enough you can almost hear and feel a slight breeze.
This quirky designer site features a bear holding a sign in a spooky forest containing hidden horrors (hint: check out the right side of the page).
The Red Rock Ranch
This site features a very different mountain scene than the Ecoki site above. Instead of zen-like, The Red Rock Ranch page has a strong western frontiersman feel that makes you want to hum the theme to Bonanza.
The last trend we’ll take a look at is that cartoony, illustrated look. Pulling this off can be as easy as a sketching out a few flowing lines representing grass covered hills or as complicated as full blown character illustration. Web designers with excellent illustration abilities are far too rare a breed so the artists below definitely deserve special recognition.
The Great Bearded Reef
The Great Bearded Reef features excellent custom character illustrations. The site is setup as an entry to a contest for the position of the caretaker of an exotic island. Intrigued? Click above to find out more.
Get Me Fast
This site’s illustration theme is very similar to The Great Bearded Reef site. Again we see some great character illustration of both the human and non-human variety.
Brad Colbow is an amazingly gifted illustrator who dishes out some really funny work that you’ve probably seen on Smashing Magazine or VectorTuts. His site is themed with a fun watery landscape and cloudy sky with a grunge overlay.
Florida Flourish is another site that features some really great, attention grabbing illustrations. The concept of the tree in the desert is meant to convey their skills at creating websites that “flourish in the harshest climates.” This is a solid execution of a design concept that ties in the company name and verbal message with the graphics on the site.
Reduce To Huella
The clouds on this site are excellent, layered vectors that make for a beautiful website header. The silhouetted windmill-filled hillside serves as a great point of contrast to the big blue sky.
Pure Organic Baby Food
This site proves that you don’t have to be an amazingly talented sketch artist to pull off the illustrated nature look. It features a simple hillside with a few trees and clouds thrown in to fill out the concept.
Aviary brings us back to the amazingly talented side of illustration. Every one of their applications features a well-drawn colorful bird mascot (shown at the top right of each page). I really like how they’ve developed a consistent theme for their amazing suite of online applications. Also, the Aviary logo makes me smile every time I see it. Check it out and count the number of eggs hidden inside it.
This site is one of my favorites on the whole list. The illustration style of the artist is really excellent. I love the dark color palette, simulated depth of field, and odd character proportions.
I hope this is enough nature inspired inspiration to kick your brain into creative high gear. Remember that the idea is not to duplicate any of the specific designs or styles above but to use them to help you think outside of your normal creative box.
Let us know in the comments which site was your favorite and if you find or own any other great nature-centric designs.