Abstract my WordPress theme for WooThemes

posted by Veerle Pieters
02 July 2009

WooThemes started as a WordPress theme shop, but is now also expanding to Drupal, Magento and ExpressionEngine, the system this site and my blog is using.

The briefing

There wasn't really a briefing as this was more like a request for me to design a new theme for WooThemes. There were no specific boundaries set, except that they asked for my creativity and design style.

The design process

As I was given total carte blanche, I thought it was best to look at which themes they already had in their assortment. This way I could base the direction of the design on a theme that I thought was more highly in demand.

Proposal 1

That's how I came up with the idea of designing a theme for small businesses.

Wootheme that wasn't chosen

My initial design proposal for Woothemes was called 'Cool structure', aimed for small businesses.

I was thinking of a way to deliver a theme that was not too personal, but a bit more commercial instead. My thinking was wrong. The reason WooThemes approached me was exactly because they preferred a theme in my 'typical' personal design style.

Sketching for proposal 2

And so I started all over, thinking in a whole different direction: more illustrative, bold and high contrasting colors, dark background,... If I think about what my typical design style is, than I have no other choice than to create an illustration. It has even become a bit of my trademark.

Random sketches made in the past that helped me for the creation of the my WordPress theme called 'Abstract' design.

While sketching in one of my Moleskines I came across this page from a few months ago and always wondered if I would create posters from them or use them for some project. The shapes I drew in the illustration at the bottom left with the word smile seemed interesting to use as I could see some possibilities here to work with. So I traced the shapes and experimented with colors and overlaying color modes in Illustrator. The result was exactly what the client was looking for...

The final design

I decided to keep the elements I thought would suit this new theme also: the horizontal navigation and its styling, and the subtle background structure, only this time layered on a different background color.

This is the final illustration used for the WordPress theme 'Abstract' for WooThemes.

The colors and general style of this illustration were used to set the style for this theme.

An illustration is often the central starting point of my creations. Once I have this illustration I think in ways of how to use that illustration in the layout and new ideas come to live while trying different things out. I do a lot of experimenting and I also try to re-use parts of this illustration in a different way e.g. for icons or decorative elements (dotted lines or flower kinda shape).

Abstract Veerle's WordPress theme for Woothemes

I baptised my theme Abstract because not only did I like the naming, I also thought it goes well with the illustration. This was a very fun project to work on because I could entirely do my thing. It was an honor creating this theme.


  1. 1 Antonio Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 09.44 am

    HI Veerle, the abstract theme is beautiful and you are one of the best web designer in the world. Congratulations you are the best! :)

  2. 2 Benjamin Alijagić Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 01.58 pm

    It really looks great!

  3. 3 mike Thu Jul 2, 2009 at 05.48 pm

    Veerle. love the Cool Structure theme… can you make that available for download!

    PS Would love you to consider doing a non-blog type theme for Textpattern CMS. my second favorite after EE.

  4. 4 Samoo Fri Jul 3, 2009 at 01.31 pm

    Love the illustration and the way the petals hang under the search box.

  5. 5 Veerle Pieters Mon Jul 6, 2009 at 10.28 am

    mike said:

    Veerle. love the Cool Structure theme… can you make that available for download!

    Maybe somewhere in the future who knows, but not now.

  6. 6 Tony Brown Thu Sep 24, 2009 at 02.29 am

    I don’t know If I said it already but ...Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! :) I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog.  Thanks,)

    A definite great read..Tony Brown