Desktop Backgrounds
August 19, 2004 8:31 PM   Subscribe

Cool desktop backgrounds: everyone's got 'em, but where do they come from? In other words, I want to know where you get the eye candy you keep underneath all those icons. (Not saying a word about what's inside, but you can probably guess...)

Every once in a blue moon, I stumble across one of those ephemereal sites which are well designed and have at least a few dozen kickass background images, often in multiple resolutions. Problem is, A) I don't always bookmark them, and more importantly B) you simply cannot Google for such sites. Any search term which would lead you to places like Digital Blasphemy or Cognitive Distortion--"wallpapers" or "desktop backgrounds"--is going to turn up hundreds of those crappy, ad-filled sites for every one gem, if any.

A related and minor gripe is how many of the places I have found, like the above, want you to pay for the content (although that's often because they have content they make themselves, which is understandable). I'd prefer places which are free or which offer public-domain type stuff.

So, where do you get your backgrounds from? The only other place I can think of is DeviantArt, but they aren't the be-all and end-all of desktop fashion!
posted by cyrusdogstar to Computers & Internet (39 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, almost forgot--extra kudos to places which have space-based or fantastic landscape type imagery, as that's what I'm in the mood for these days.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 8:38 PM on August 19, 2004

like this? (google--sci fi wallpaper)
posted by amberglow at 8:46 PM on August 19, 2004

If you don't mind a natural approach, try Image After. Great photos at high resolution, and they're all free to use. There's also some great stuff at Public Domain Photos. I especially like the section on Ireland.
posted by brism at 8:50 PM on August 19, 2004

My desktop is filled with paintings from the Rijksmuseum. (Go to Collections, than Browse the Collection).

What I want to know is: what other museums have high-resolution images of their holdings?
posted by josh at 8:52 PM on August 19, 2004

The Mind of Madness Art Galleries might satisfy the "fantastic landscape" criterion.
posted by yarmond at 9:20 PM on August 19, 2004

Teemu Hakala has some amazing desktops on his website.
posted by geekhorde at 9:24 PM on August 19, 2004

Over the last year I've had 3 pics of my gf, several of my own Burning Man pics, and one nice shot from a Hama7 found-photos FPP.
posted by scarabic at 9:36 PM on August 19, 2004

i guess i have a short attention span, my background changes pretty much everyday, but mostly with sinfest or photoshop contests, ok, it's not fine art but at least you can't get too bored.
posted by NGnerd at 9:57 PM on August 19, 2004

here's a cool thing I found on mefi: drempels! but I always end up turning it off after a few days. my current desktop was culled from yet another mefi link.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:57 PM on August 19, 2004

My background is a test pattern (test card to some). It helps to adjust the contrast and angle of my laptop screen, and I just think it looks cool. But that's just me.
posted by ALongDecember at 10:17 PM on August 19, 2004

I'm really suprised no one has said yet. His site is really excellent (wacky navigation aside) and has literally hundreds of great images.
posted by ejoey at 10:22 PM on August 19, 2004

You will have to do a bit of hunting for the right size image, but NASA seems like the obvious choice if you want space stuff. You can check their multimedia page, but a better choice is GRIN.
posted by O9scar at 10:38 PM on August 19, 2004

Pixel Girl Presents is great.
posted by mmcg at 10:43 PM on August 19, 2004

I make my own. Right now, I have my goldfish, but it's usually some scantily clad actress/popstar, occasionally with a gun.
posted by Katemonkey at 11:34 PM on August 19, 2004

cyrusdogstar, are you looking for sites with images explicitly earmarked as background material? If not, you can browse through a lot of the FPPs that I've posted.
posted by Gyan at 11:35 PM on August 19, 2004

The best wallpaper is usually on portfolio and music sites.

Ninjatune Wallpaper (Also, if you go through the artist and releases pages you'll find an image or two you can use as wallpaper.)
this is my current
Ninjatune Desktop Competition
mediainspiration wallpapers
and there's the longhorn wallpaper
a few in here are alright
these screenshots work well if you're into that sort of thing
magnetstudio and magnetstudio swat which i found via dieselboy
posted by raaka at 11:52 PM on August 19, 2004

me company has some really good ones, i think they are the company that does the design for björk stuff.
posted by rhyax at 11:55 PM on August 19, 2004

I make my own although I don't offer different resolutions.

if you have some time to kill, you can hit up the websites of people who have posted desktops here; not all of them have a linked website but the ones that do often have desktops available.

this guy has a few if you're into the whole 3d render videogame imagery thing.
posted by juv3nal at 12:08 AM on August 20, 2004 has some good stuff on it as well.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 12:14 AM on August 20, 2004

I found a site a couple of years back that had amazing, huge, tropical beach shots and forest shots, all at like 1280x1024 and higher. I hoiked some of them, and use them almost all the time, but have never been able to find that site again so I can grab the rest. Anyone know what I'm talkin' about?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:43 AM on August 20, 2004

The Astronomy Picture of the Day has some wonderful starscapes and pictures of nebulae. It's not really set up for desktop seeking, but if you check the page every day anyway (I do), you'll come across some great stuff now and then.
posted by Zonker at 4:37 AM on August 20, 2004

If you like photo-backgrounds, check out a project I started last week at -- there's only 12 photos now in various desktop sizes, but more coming soon.
posted by jenett at 5:10 AM on August 20, 2004

I second APOD.
posted by mischief at 5:21 AM on August 20, 2004

Oddly enough, the CIA is great for keeping a world-perspective. Get the PDF maps and you can scale them any way you want. Particularly nice if you have a very high resolution display, and the conventional 1024x768 backgrounds just won't cut it.

On a side note, the maps are nicely designed. Open them up in illustrator, and there are lots of sub-objects. So it isn't very hard to do lots of interesting and custom things with them.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:23 AM on August 20, 2004

As a crappy sub-amateur photographer, I'm fond of taking extreme close-ups of interesting subjects with a narrow depth of field: Nuts, bolts, a corner of my keyboard, a bamboo leaf.

I've found that some of those, particularly those with fairly neutral and even color, make for really pleasant desktop backgrounds.
posted by majick at 6:05 AM on August 20, 2004

The Internet Ray Tracing Competition has some good stuff.
posted by Jimbob at 6:13 AM on August 20, 2004

OS X Planet
posted by jeb at 6:38 AM on August 20, 2004

My favorite is National Geographic's Photo of the Day. Great photos from around the world, and they have a huge archive too. Downside is that they max out at 1024x768.
posted by smackfu at 7:28 AM on August 20, 2004

Here's a self-link of mostly photographic desktops.
posted by hyperizer at 7:41 AM on August 20, 2004

Mac Desktops has some gems and a lot of so-so images (despite the site's name, I have a feeling the JPEGs will work on other platforms).
posted by adamrice at 8:25 AM on August 20, 2004

I'm fond of Desktop Image, m'self.
posted by frykitty at 8:38 AM on August 20, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all the replies thus far! Looks like plenty of great sites to explore this weekend. I <3 AskMe :)
posted by cyrusdogstar at 8:53 AM on August 20, 2004

In answer to Josh's request for online art museum collections, the place I work has a decent amount available.
posted by COBRA! at 9:34 AM on August 20, 2004's Wallpaper Library. It's a community, so just filter out what everyone else says is crap.
posted by mnology at 10:41 AM on August 20, 2004

Ephemera now: scanned classic advertising images and other trivial nostalgia.
posted by codger at 11:05 AM on August 20, 2004

posted by pedantic at 12:05 PM on August 20, 2004

PlasmaDesign -- it's a pay site, but for me, it was worth it. I don't go much for the rendered landscape thing, but some of his more abstract works are great, and he's a very likeable fellow. I chatted with him on AIM once for a bit.

Sometimes when I'm bored, I run StarFish X a couple times with a custom (dark blue and black) palette that I made, and have it render ginormous full-screen images, then save the ones I like. The current wallpaper on my powerbook is one I made that way; I've kept it up for several months, which is long for me. It's that cool looking.
posted by jammer at 12:30 PM on August 20, 2004

posted by falconred at 1:46 PM on August 20, 2004

Mac desktops is excellent (mentioned before) two plus new desktops daily, multiple, configurable resolutions.
posted by filmgeek at 7:43 PM on August 20, 2004

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