Back in 2014, I started a fun side project of designing very, very simple background wallpapers. I was annoyed by distracting images on my home screens and thought, wouldn’t it be awesome if the background would just recede into the background?
I shared my backgrounds and people liked them. I made more of them, experimented with their design process, added lots of screen resolution sizes to choose from, and feedback was great.
But then I let the project grow cold in the last half of 2015 because I knew that my workflows for creating these wallpapers was costing me a ton of time. I had no return on that time, except for a few grateful people that complimented my work. If I was going to refine the concept of designing subtle background pictures, I needed to simplify the workflow dramatically. I wanted to cut the time it took making and managing them in half.
About three weeks ago, I had one of those bright idea moments in the shower and I cracked it (seriously, while in the shower, just like they say it happens). I figured out several ways to speed up the editing process. I was ready to pick the side project up again.
On Valentine’s Day, I launched FocusBackgrounds.com. You’ll find all-new simple wallpapers there for the taking. Some are free, but it would be awesome if you’d purchase Focus Collection 1. Only if you want to support the project. That makes the site financially support itself so that I’ll keep it up.
Why are the backgrounds blurry?
The wallpapers are out of focus because details in the background make it harder to read the names of files and drives on the desktop or home screen. Very, very simple lighting effects and gradients are the only design details that look good without introducing visual confusion.
Also, they’re blurry because, well, that’s the whole point. I want less distractions. Really basic wallpapers like these eliminate one more cause for me to day dream. It’s hard to focus on work when a cool eye-catching background is constantly poking up around the corner of your open app window.
Why do they look noisy?
There’s a fine grainy-ness to my backgrounds. My reasoning is that soft gradients are just too boring and sometimes cause my eyes to bug-out when they’re trying to focus.
You ever experience this issue when you’re staring at a blurry image and your eyes try to adjust their focus assuming that the problem is that they’re focusing at the wrong depth? It’s a little strange and it happens to me sometimes. My eyes try to focus when there’s no details to pinpoint.
Well, that’s why I add a subtle noise to Focus Backgrounds, because when my eyes wonder and view the background, they’ll see the noise and stop trying to focus the on the intentional blur.
Where do I download them?
Eight are free at this time — six are free in the free set and 2 are free from Focus Collection 1 if you click on the ones marked ‘free download’.
Feel free to let me know what you think of the new site and new backgrounds on Twitter. Follow the Twitter account for the site to be informed when new wallpapers arrive. (Or do what the cool people are doing and follow the site with RSS.)
I’ve taken down the ones originally available from JoeDarnell.com because they’ve served their time. It’s time to refresh the whole series of wallpapers. I can design them much better now.