Spotlight On: Watercolor Website Design

We are starting a new “Spotlight” series featuring a single style or element used in modern web design or brand identity that inspires and moves us. This spotlight is on watercolor website design, used to turn our everyday computing environment into something more rich and tactile.


Everything about Toggle is designed to challenge your expectations. The result is a gorgeous experience of user exploration enveloped in this lovely, soothing cream and blue.

Continue reading to check out more watercolor designs and fun design elements you can use to design one of your own if you’re not an artist (I’m not – I love having real art like this to use!)

Peter Granfors (Offline)

It saddens me that the second site I want to show you is no longer online. In its day, the Peter Granfors site was featured on web design galleries because it is so pretty, it’s like you could feel your screen transformed into watercolor paper. Yet it is actually made with pixels and CSS and HTML and other mundane things. Note the darling Flickr-eyed gorilla as you “leave the page” at the bottom of the footer! Our kinda quirky.

Simple Living Style

Discovered randomly on Dribbble, this pretty site  feels like a visit to a classy, country farmhouse. Amazing how watercolor mixed with other elements can go from modern/urbane (ala Toggle above) to warm, comfy shabby chic!

MoreVida Reviews

Several years ago my team designed this site for self-improvment reviews and ratings. The brush strokes designed by my then-intern Andy Armstrong give this site a more friendly flavor than had we done it in a more modern style.


I have personally looked at Boompa dozens of times over the years, but still not really absorbed what they do (music, for those more curious.) The design hooks me every time, with stunning birds and rich nature imagery. One of the most classy music-related sites on the web!

Stephen Caver

This site offers the perfect blend of graphics and typography and information layout, which shouldn’t be that surprising as Stephen is a designer/developer/info architect. It’s also responsive so check it out on your mobile devices.


Featured as one of our “Most Gorgeous Websites”, the XHTML Cafe is a delightful juxtaposition of tech-made-approachable. What better way to get across the “hand-coded” message than with hand-coded imagery? The result is a cafe we’d visit any day of the week!

Octavo Designs

Between the horizontal scrolling, and a mix of fuzzy watercolor, sharp photos and large patterned illustrations, Octavo provides an eclectic site filled with texture and imagination.


Graphic Elements to Design With

I found a few design pieces for free or not much that you may want to use for your watercolor creations. Enjoy!

25 Free High-Res Watercolor Textures

Background Images

Button & Icon Elements

 Watercolor Brush Pack

If you run across any more great watercolor sites or web elements to use to make them, let us know! Can’t get enough of looking at the pretty stuff. :-)