8 CSS & JS Snippets for Creating Pixelated Backgrounds


Pixels are the building blocks of so much of what we see online. And the more advanced display technology becomes, the more of these tiny squares are shown on our screens. The result is that both text and images are incredibly sharp.

Still, for all of that high-tech beauty, there’s something to be said for the simplicity that classic pixel-based art brings to the table. It not only reminds us of the good old days, but it can also be an effective design technique.

Which brings us to today’s topic – the use of pixels as a background. On the right project, they can add an element of fun and a surprising amount of creativity. Let’s take a look at some code snippets that show the potential of the pixel.

A Pixel for Every Purpose

This multi-faceted example shows a wide range of looks and animation options. Use the preset menu to choose from over 10 different SVG backgrounds. Many are reminiscent of a retro video game, and some are indeed more appropriate for everyday use than others. Regardless, this collection provides a solid primer of what is possible.

See the Pen Pixel-Grid (SVG Animations) by Scott Weaver

Fade Into Black

Gradients and pixels never seemed to mesh very well. But in the age of brutalist design, they go together like Mario and Luigi. This snippet demonstrates an interesting, random effect. It uses JavaScript to split up the background into small squares of varying opacities. The result is a piece of generated art that will certainly get a user’s attention.

See the Pen CSS Pixelated Gradient Generator by Eric Winton

Tasteful Squares

Here’s an example that is both can’t-miss noticeable and tastefully done. The large squares fade in and out in a seemingly random pattern, but thankfully don’t overwhelm. This might make a for a great design accent to a hero area, where making a first impression is key.

See the Pen RKpBLg by Michael

A Subtle Effect

If you’re looking for an animated background that won’t distract from your content, this simple snippet is worth checking out. While similar in style to the previous example, it’s different in that the animation only runs once. It’s enough to attract attention without the potential annoyance of movement that loops time and again.

See the Pen pixel background animation by Oren

Transforming Mask

Pixels can also play complementary roles within a background. For instance, take a look at this video. It’s made more interesting with a pixel-like pattern overlay that could be used to display a simple logo, symbol or something more random. Even better is that this particular example is shape-shifting. Click anywhere on the video to see the pattern change.

See the Pen KaozXe by Micah Frost


What makes this snippet stand out is its combination of both retro looks and modern functionality. Created with particles.js, these floating pixels are reminiscent of 1950s/60s space-themed art. Hover over an area and its pixels are highlighted bright white, while a click forces them to scatter.

See the Pen pixel background 2 by Alex

CSS Plaid

Pixel art is a great choice for a plaid-like pattern. The subtle differences between squares can form something attractive, albeit not realistically-detailed. Here we have a fairly simple, pure CSS pattern that could serve as a background for a hero, header or an entire page.

See the Pen CSS Pixelated Background (Camo #1) by Erik Wiedeman

Make it 3D

Let’s take a look at another great example of classic-meets-modern. This logo has been turned into an interactive 3D masterpiece, thanks to CSS and jQuery. Hovering over a square lights it up, while the shifted perspective makes the items at the top look far away. It would no doubt make for a compelling background.

See the Pen Digibilly Pixel Logo in CSS &Jquery with Overlay by Joshua Pearson

A Flexible Choice for Backgrounds

The inherent advantage of using pixel-based backgrounds is their versatility. You can, for example, go with a background that features a lot of slick animation. Or you might prefer something completely static. Then there is the choice between a very random, attention-grabbing pattern or one that is more predictable.

Regardless of your needs, there is a version of the technique out there that is a perfect fit. So, if you’re looking for something to help your site stand out, don’t overlook the possibilities of pixels.

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