30 Awesome Web Designs That Create an Illusion of Depth

30 Awesome Web Designs That Create an Illusion of Depth

Depth perception is our ability to see the world in three dimensions. It allows us to gauge the relative distances of objects we can see. In a plane/2D surface, depth can be simulated by the use of concepts related to depth of field, perspective, focal/vantage point, shading, lighting, and others.

Web design is traditionally a two-dimensional medium. However, experimenting with faux 3D effects can lead to interesting and memorable user experiences. In this showcase, I present to you web designs that successfully create an illusion of depth.

The Pixel

Perspective is a concept you can use for creating a sense of depth, as can be seen in The Pixel website.

Ecoda Zoo

In this web design, visitors are confronted with various interesting animation effects. By holding down the mouse button, users are able to navigate through the three-dimensional scene.

Frito Lay

Frito Lay’s website uses perspective to give the viewer the impression that they are in a three-dimensional environment. Colorful character animations and shading further reinforce the 3D theme of the site.

Cup Cup

In this website for a cupcake shop, depth is achieved through the use of an awning (among other things), making it appear as though you’re looking at a storefront displaying cupcakes. The cupcakes are placed in such a way as to give them the appearance of sitting on top of a shelf.

Through the use of perspective, depth is achieved on An almost photorealistic illustration of an octopus further exemplifies the three-dimensional characteristic being portrayed on the site.

Mike Dascola

The portfolio website of web designer Mike Drascola establishes an illusion of depth. A surreal quality characterizes the three-dimensional scene presented on the site.

Gardener & Marks

Gardener & Marks creates a photorealistic setting that seems to embody the company’s style. Depth is attained through various mechanisms, including the use of shadows on objects.

Dez Vila Aplina

Dez Vila Aplina uses perspective in their illustrated roadmap. Shadows are another technique used to portray depth in this design.

Versions App

Visual depth is achieved on this website through the use of a landscape, lighting, and shadows. The color palette also helps support a 3D look-and-feel.

The Dascola Barbers

The Dascala Barbers website pays homage to Ann Arbor, while focusing on the people that make the shop a success. A figure/ground perspective is achieved through the caricatures of the barbers.


On the Imaginamos site, depth is simulated in the illustrative header through the appropriate scaling of objects.


Through the use of a large scrolling rainbow that protrudes from the background, Skittles gives the viewer a glimpse into the company and its history. Viewers are engaged into a unique interactive experience when they visit the site.


This fun website features a rotatable, 3D planet underscored by well-placed shadows and layering to create the illusion of depth.

Adobe Creative Suite 3

A surreal 3D illustration gives the Adobe Creative Suite 3 website an otherworldly character.

Iceberg Quest

Great composition produces an interesting landscape that’s used as the background and a central design element on the Iceberg Quest website.

Wing Cheng

Wing Cheng is a designer whose portfolio site establishes an illusion of depth. By unfolding the pages, you get a real-life look into the work of the designer. Shadowing helps give the elements a 3D appearance.

The Villager Restaurant and Catering

This website features a wonderful illustrative header that simulates depth. Depth is used as a functional tool to create visual hierarchy by attempting to focus your attention on the navigation menu bar after you view the beautiful illustration of the restaurant’s exterior.

Planeje Sua Carreira

Site visitors are greeted by a faux 3D environment when they go to the Planeje Sua Carreira website.

Foundation Six Web Design Studio

The website designs by Foundation Six take center stage in this portfolio website. The illusion of depth is created by the use of shadows, layering, and object scaling.


The Inglorie website gives you a sense of depth through the use of perspective and shadowing. The 3D effect, coupled with animation and the use of distinction techniques, draws your attention to the objects at the center of the screen.


An aerial/bird’s-eye view of a house creates a sense of depth for the Aka-Acid site. Shading also adds to the illusion of depth.

Green Woods Country Club

By using a natural landscape and perspective, the Green Woods Country Club website creates an almost realistic scene.

Creative Switch

Creative Switch achieves depth through the use of scaling, which brings the mascot to the front as the city landscape fades into the background. Darker colors also help the background fade into the distance.


Depth is achieved by using perspective in the photograph that is a central design piece in this website.

UIS- Ultimate Interactive Studio

The Interactive Studio UIS website creates depth by layering and by using shadows.

Help Scout

The Help Scout website uses depth of field, as can be seen by the birds being blurred to create an illusion of distance.

Hippo App

By using colorful, bright illustrations and perspective techniques, the Hippo App website achieves a nice simulation of depth.

Dino Yul

This unique website by Dino Yul creates an illusion of depth in the layout’s central element, the image slideshow. Shadows and layering bring the image slideshow to a higher plane.


Through the use of shadows, depth is conveyed masterfully on Zennaware. Objects look like they’re resting on top of a table.

Creative Mints

Colorful and creative illustrations take center stage on the Creative Mints website. Once again, we can see how the use of shadows and proper scaling of objects can be used to establish a sense of depth.


Establishing a sense of depth in website designs can help produce striking and memorable experiences. I hope these beautiful examples have inspired you to experiment with 3D elements in your own web design projects.

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Stephanie Hamilton is a brand stylist and web designer whose passion is helping creative entrepreneurs, small businesses and start-ups develop memorable and meaningful brand and digital experiences. Visit By Stephanie to collaborate with her to tell your brand’s story.

This was published on May 13, 2011


Osvaldas May 13 2011

Looks like I missed the train, but who knew I will launch a website with an illusion of depth at the same time:

In terms of depth I enjoyed Ecoda Zoo most.

ptamaro May 13 2011

Awesome post Stephanie, truly inspiring stuff! I’ve only seen a few of these before and you’ve really assembled an amazing fresh collection of fantastic examples here. So many different styles and designs to look through…. what great way to start my day.

Thank you :D

NLSchober May 13 2011

some really innovative design here, great stuff

Catalin Red May 13 2011

Stephanie, indeed, it’s really an awesome collection, I just can’t choose a favourite one.

Arif Riyanto May 13 2011

It’s great. Inspire me :)

Nikunj Tamboli May 13 2011

3d design are hard to master, the one thing you need to focus on is the shadow to do it right.

BTW all the examples listed here are superb.

Brandy May 13 2011


Awesome inspirational collection.. will definitely going to help designers with their future projects. Thanks for sharing!

Cool article I really like some of these sites, however a couple of the flash based sites failed to load up, and one of my favourites (Green Woods Country Club) the site navigation was messing up the the site, probably down to lack of cross browser testing, could be a brilliant site with those niggles sorted out tho..

Einstein May 14 2011

Inspiration. Thanks.

Thanks for the inspiring examples! Another playful one that blew my mind was this one:

Really great work.

Gustavs May 14 2011

This is awesome! I really liked the portfolio website of Mike Drascola

abdullha May 14 2011


Nguyen Hung May 14 2011

Great. Thanks

They are really cool and superb!

Iman z almidani May 15 2011

Inspire me !!

Mike J May 15 2011

This an amazing list of inspirational sites that push the edge of what a beautiful yet functional website can be. Most all these sites have great features while still delivering the sites message. Some sites often get so tied up in a cool design the forget the message and user engagement aspect of a website.

Outstanding !

Stephanie May 16 2011

Thanks everyone! It was interesting to see just what is out there in terms of 3-D.

DezineGuide May 17 2011

beautiful inspiration….

Thanks for the shout-out, 2x ;)


Amazing designs.

amazing web designs!

mario May 19 2011

this type of 3D illustrations and very dynamic, the truth that one is left watching them because they are incredible web designs….


girish May 20 2011

inspiring designs.want to make my website to look like 3D

Francis Boudreau May 23 2011

Nice designs! I’ll try one 3D website one day…

Henrique May 30 2011

About 3D sites, this one is nice too about ecology!

Some of them are really awesome! Good work, thanks

Franco Jun 12 2011

Nice list. Thx.

Nichloas Jul 19 2011

Good post. Very impressive also very inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

Excellent list of web2.0 sites. I was already using few of it. however it is good to know more. I personally like web 2.0 listing at

Pradeep Giri Aug 25 2011

its great stuff really inspired me. thank a lot for this type of stuff

Dheeraj Jun 17 2012

Nice list
Now I got an idea of my next web project.

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