How to Create Backgrounds for Resale

Please follow these steps in our guidelines to ensure your files are accepted at Freelancer Marketplace

Freelancer Marketplace accepts all types of graphics as long as the files are constructed to high standards, have visual appeal and have commercial value. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Any file with images that do not have a release will be rejected.

Brief history of computer-generated background images

Stock background images have been available for personal computer users since the mid-1980s. The earliest form of graphics was simple "paint" style images in B&W or 8-bit [256 color] format. Backgrounds have evolved from simple patterns created with pixels to elaborate designs with raster effects such as glow, Gaussian blur, lighting and advanced layering effects created with masks and adjustment layers.

Stock agencies as well as Corel and Adobe have provided extensive libraries of background images on CDs for many years. More recently, online stock agencies and even private individuals, have offered their images directly via online stores providing small thumbnails for viewing in galleries as well as watermarked comp versions of their images so designers can download and start working with sample images prior to purchasing them.

For most designers, Adobe PhotoShop is the main tool of choice though there are other raster-based image applications with incredible features such as 3D effects and object rendering more powerful than PhotoShop.


The most widely-accepted formats for background images are Joint Photographic Experts Group [JPG] and Tagged Image File Format [TIFF] or native PSD [PhotoShop] format.

Customers searching for high-quality print-ready background images often require full color [CMYK] artwork - artwork that will separate into the four process colors for printing. For this purpose, providing the background image in PSD or TIF format is advisable. An experienced designer will prepare this artwork in CMYK format staring at the beginning of the design, not simply convert RGB to CMYK as this can introduce anomalies in the pixels that do not produce clean color in print [see Color further in this document].

Customers wanting background images for online typically require RGB format graphics as these are normally used for on-screen display only. As such, images at this resolution need only be provided in JPG format.

A professional designer is most likely to prepare their images in CMYK color to ensure the integrity of the printed color by referencing printed color guides. The designer can then offer the image in RGB formats by converting to this color profile, rather than starting in RGB and converted to CMYK.


The two standard resolutions for raster-based images are 72dpi for online use and 300dpi for print. While an image that is prepared at 300dpi can be easily down-sampled to a lower resolution for a specific use, it is not advisable to scale a 72dpi image any larger than the size at which it exists. Therefore, it is recommended that any background images you prepare be done so at 300dpi.

Since your background may be used for print purposes at 300dpi, and the most common print size are letter [8.5x11] and A4 [210mmx297mm], it is best to prepare your background image at this page size and resolution, or even larger.

Working at print resolutions ensures a wider audience can use your background images.


A background image can be somewhat limiting if it has specific boundaries. That is, if there is a dark hue around the edges of the design, that serves as a frame for that background at that specific size. It also hinders the possibility of extending the design should the user have the need to extend the background beyond its original size and proportion. A way of dealing with this is to prepare backgrounds that have a repeating pattern that can be cloned, extending the background one or more directions.

If you are preparing a patterned background, be sure to measure the repeatability of the pattern accurately, in whatever measurement system you use [metric or imperial] to allow the user the flexibility of cloning the background to a larger area if needed.

Layered vs flat files

You may wish to provide both layered and flat file versions of your background image. Layered files afford the user the flexibility of being able to adjust layer effects or suppress a layer or alter a layer mask to suit their specific need. Of course, a layered file would need to be provided as a PSD or TIF, while JPG format is a single, flat file format.

Use clear and accurate naming conventions for the layers instead of leaving the default names such as Layer 1, Layer 2, Layer 3. You can also create a top level layer with text-based instructions for the user to follow, making it easier for them to work with your background images.


One of the most common mistakes a designer can make is to prepare artwork in RGB format and then convert to CMYK for print. The resulting colors are not ideal for printing. For example, a green color in RGB may look bright and clean, yet when it is converted to CMYK, small percentages of magenta and even black may appear, causing the graphic to have a muddy appearance when printed. It is always recommended that colors for designs be created in CMYK format and that designers refer to a printed reference guide when determining colors, simply because the screen is displaying in RGB and is not an accurate method for judging printed color.

When mixing CMYK colors, in addition to referring to a printed color reference guide that shows percentages of mixes of 2 or more process colors, i.e. 50% cyan and 25% magenta, designers should also create colors that are easy to understand as the customer may wish to adjust the color. Creating colors like C72:M37:Y12:K47 is not as understandable as say C80:M45:Y10:K40.

Lastly, the best thing you can do for your customer is prepare color blocking in layers so that the color is easily adjusted to suit their specific need. If you have a background that is predominantly blue in nature, having this predominant color applied to a layer with a layer option such as "color overlay" or even a "curves" control layer will permit the user to edit the color.

Producing your backgrounds in a series of colors also allows potential users a choice for their design. By having multiple color layers, you can easily create the same background in red, blue, green, yellow, purple, orange and other colors.


Once you have created your artwork and placed it online for resale, you are bound by the rules of the site for which you provided your graphics. That is, once the graphics have been purchased, the customer is allowed to use that graphic within the terms of their agreement with the online service and you cannot make any further claim to own that graphic.

Should the graphic end up being used by a huge multi-national corporation who paid someone $10,000 for the design, your rights as the creator of that design are limited to what you agreed to with that online service and the payment as set out by the terms of that service.


Your thumbnail image needs to be 156x92 pixels and can be JPEG, GIF or PNG format. Your thumbnail image should be an accurate representation of how your file looks.


When naming your main file and putting in your keywords please keep these relevant to the file being uploaded. File names and keywords should reflect what the file is and what it does. Using irrelevant names and keywords will result in your file being rejected. For example "Black circular pattern design" is correct, "totally amazing pattern" is not correct. You will need to supply at least 3 keywords for your file submission.


You may recommend a price that you think your file should be sold at. However Freelancer Marketplace staff will review your product and decide on the final price, if you do not agree with the price, please contact us. Please use this guide to help your upload process, the advice offered is to help protect all parties from copyright infringements and to aid you with your sales as a successful flash stock provider within our Freelancer Marketplace community.