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UniqueTextures High-Resolution Background Textures
If you do not know what a background texture is, then you probably won't be a customer of some of these gems, but we'll explain it anyway. Graphic artists and designers sometimes start from scratch in their work, but increasingly, they turn to the internet to assemble components into the desired product.
Say, for example, that you are working on a magazine article about the looming water shortage, and you want to liven up the page to make it a little more visually appealing. You could put the text on a sea-blue background, or you could drop in a high resolution photograph of the sea. Its really up to the artist and the look they are pursuing. UniqueTextures saves the artist from having to take a trip to the ocean (hopefully the artwork isn't being done in Oklahoma!), and it also is a great tool for giving artists new ideas.
In addition to magazines, textures are used in all sorts of applications ranging from video games, web backgrounds, product packaging, television, and some of them are interesting enough to print out, frame and hang on your wall! CGarchitect has a great gallery of computer generated architectural scenes that frequently employ the use of background textures.
UniqueTextures offers two different versions of every texture they offer; medium resolution versions are free and they typically run about 600 x 400 pixels, and high-resolution versions are available for instant download, for a flat $9.99 (we bet they will increase this). The images come in at a whopping 3008 x 2000 pixels! The quality of the textures that we downloaded was excellent, and the sheer number of pixels allows for all sorts of manipulations that their low-res counterparts are not suited for. For example, you can crop out a small component of a texture and still have sufficient resolution for high-quality output. Alternatively, you can avoid having to find a repeating 'seamless' texture because you can drop in one image to span the entire surface that needs covering.
Our favorite features of UniqueTextures are the excellent searching and browse pages. A search box is conveniently positioned on every page of the site, and most searches yield very relevant results. Their browse page is organized into many categories and the sort order of the results is rather impressive; when you browse the sky category, for example, somehow the textures exhibiting the most sky-ness are displayed first and the less sky-y stuff is at the bottom! Our other favorite categories include weathered, textual, dead (yeah, thats a pig on a spit toward the bottom), horizontal and manhole.
At the time of this review they have just over 2,000 textures but they seem to be adding more. Thats a large number of textures, but we wish they had a little more breadth. For example, a search for 'medical' yielded no results; same for 'toys'. We expect them to add more and more textures at which point we may raise our rating even higher!
Some other texture houses require you to purchase entire libraries of images on CDs. UniqueTextures has introduced an a-la-carte system that allows artists to purchase only what they want, when they want it; we salute them for avoiding the 'bundling business model' that the music industry (think albums) cannot seem to bury. One last thing - their licensing agreement provides customers with royalty-free rights, so after you download, the textures are really yours!
Unique Reviews overall rating: 95 out of 100
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