A starter or "base" theme is one that typically has very little style and is designed to give you a head start building your own unique theme, usually using Drupal's subtheming.
This is a list of themes that currently identify themselves as starter themes. At time of writing some of these projects were in early alpha release or still in development. You will need to check the releases for each project.
Starter themes that use a conventional layout method
- AdaptiveTheme - A powerful theme framework designed from the ground up to power modern, cross browser/cross device websites using responsive design techniques.
- Basic - Originally a stripped down version of the Zen theme, Basic has now become its own concept of a theme starter.
- beginning - A blank canvas for theme developers. Drupal 6.x only.
- beginningW2 - A "Web 2.0 style" evolution from the beginning theme. Drupal 6.x only.
- Bootstrap - This base theme bridges the gap between Drupal and the Bootstrap Framework.
- BigDaddy - A well-structured base for theme developers. It makes an optimal start for clean rendered HTML and CSS output which is fully Web standards compliant. It has recently been updated with a new SMACSS method.
- Boron – a base theme for Drupal which converts the core template files to HTML5 markup. Like other minimal base themes, such as Zen and Stark, it includes only a few lines of layout-driven CSS, and markup that is search engine optimized. There is also a Boron for Zen base theme.
- Clean - A base theme with a focus on minimal implementation. Drupal 6.x only.
- Flexible - This theme is designed with accessibility in mind. Drupal 5.x and 6.x only.
- Foundation - This is a liquid layout theme that handles layout for one, two, and three columns based on which blocks are enabled. Drupal 5.x and 6.x only.
- FuelDeLuxe - A D6 starter theme. Successor of beginning. 90% based on Basic + integrates the Acquia Marina theme settings + extra stuff in template.php. Simple to use/integrate from PSDs.
- Genesis - An standards compliant, accessible and semantically rich starter theme. Genesis is easy to theme yet extremely flexible, giving you endless theming possibilities.
- Groundwork - A progressive mobile first front-end framework for Drupal with modular scale typography and powerful layout engine. It also comes with its own special font "Noceda Font Pro", a light, elegant and open sans-serif font built in with 304 Gwikons (Groundwork icons)
- Hunchbaque - A theme that makes formatting the underlying XHTML and CSS easier for the pure themer and gives a fairly blank canvas to work with. Drupal 5.x only.
- Mothership – described as the über "clean up this html that Drupal provides" theme, so if you want to make any sense of this then use it as a parent theme!
- Nucleus - a base theme developed by ThemeBrain. It is very flexible, simple and fast for developers and users to speed up the process of developing a custom Drupal theme.
- Prius - The Prius theme support Drupal 8. It's a HTML5, Sass, Responsive grid base theme.
- Radix - a base theme for Panopoly that has Sass and Compass support. Radix uses components from Bootstrap and makes it easy to build responsive themes with Panels.
- Stark - The Stark theme was recently added to Drupal 7. This is an exact copy backported to Drupal 6. The Stark theme is provided for demonstration purposes; it uses Drupal’s default HTML markup and CSS styles.
- Starkish - Starkish is a compromise between the styleless Stark theme and all the other bulky framework themes.
- Studio theme pack - This is a set of themes for use as a base in creating a new theme. Drupal 6.x.
- Tao – a base theme for Drupal that is all about going with the flow. It is not
meant for general-purpose use, but instead takes care of several tasks so that sub-themes can get on with their job.
- Tendu - A light, stable, table-less and cross-browser theme that support RTL (right-to-left) and BiDi (bi-directional) layout "out of the box". Drupal 6.x only.
- Yahoo Pure.CSS Framework - an advanced responsive, mobile-first, HTML5, base-theme. It uses Yahoo Pure.CSS, a powerful responsive CSS framework.
- Zen - A powerful, yet simple, HTML5 starting theme with a responsive, mobile-first grid design. If you are building your own standards-compliant theme, you will find it much easier to start with Zen than to start with Garland or Stark. This theme has fantastic online documentation and tons of helpful code comments in its PHP, HTML, CSS and Sass.
- mbase - Modern base theme with free online theme generator where you can build child theme without coding, try it Child theme builder
Grid starter themes
- Aether - Aether was built using Basic as a base, into a responsive starter theme that utilizes Sass & Compass. Taking the fixed-width responsive approach, it has 5 device widths, 4 breakpoints and uses the widest width as the default. Aether has it's own custom grid, handy sass variables/mixins and the ability to add new Sass extensions to build on your theme. Most of the important grid features are controllable through theme settings. It is also Context/Delta friendly for that extra bit of control.
- ATCK - Advanced Theme Construction Kit, ATCK, is inspired by Yahoo's YUI grids. Drupal 6.x or 5.x only.
- Blueprint - A starter Drupal theme meant to make development of custom themes faster. It uses the Blueprint CSS framework. By default, the grid is 950px wide, with 24 columns spanning 30px, and a 10px margin between columns. Drupal 6.x.
- Framework - A user friendly starting point to help facilitate your theme development. Supports one, two, and three-column layouts. Set to a 24 column grid of 950px.
- Fusion - Fusion is a powerful base theme, with layout and style configuration options built in that you can control through Drupal's UI. It's based on a simplified 960px or fluid 16-column grid. It's designed to be used with the Skinr module, with numerous block styles included.
- Groundwork - A progressive mobile first front-end framework for Drupal with configurable grid layout and modular scale typography. It also comes with its own special font "Noceda Font Pro", a light, elegant and open sans-serif font built in with 304 Gwikons (Groundwork icons)
- NineSixty - Based on the 960 Grid System: width of 960 pixels, with two variants of 12 and/or 16 column grids. With optional content-first source order, swapping display order with NineSixty's pull & push classes. The new drupal.org theme (site redesign project) is 960.gs-derived, like NineSixty.
- Omega - The Omega theme is an advanced 960.gs base theme that utilizes functionality from several major themes, and incorporates the core Ninesixty functionality for grid management, but has an advanced theme settings interface to allow for grid management without editing code.
- Open Grid - Clean starter grid based theme with 12, 16 & 24 column fixed and liquid grid support. Drupal 6.x.
- Square Grid - A clean, lightweight base theme leveraging the SquareGrid design framework. This is a mobile-first, content-first theme that uses responsive design and supports a wide variety of layouts, from 6-, 8- and 12-column grids to Golden Ratio layouts.
- YUI Grid - Clean, pure CSS table-less theme based upon YUI.
- Yahoo Pure.CSS Framework - an advanced base-theme built to use Yahoo Pure.CSS - a powerful responsive CSS framework.
- Zen nineSixty - Zen with grids. This is the NineSixty theme developed as a Zen sub-theme. It inherits all the theme settings from the Zen theme (like inline block editing). You can modify or extend this sub-theme, or create a sub-sub-theme (Zen -> Zen nineSixty -> custom). Drupal 6.x only.
Base themes built to work with Panels Everywhere
- AT Panels Everywhere
- Precision – based on the exact same principles as the 960 grid system, but with a more fine grained grid and some minor feature additions. Drupal 6.x.
Adaptive width starter themes
- ABC - a complex and easy to customize theme. Drupal 6.x
- Black Hole - is an advanced dark theme, with layout and style configuration options built in that you can control through Drupal's UI, to be ideal for a wide range of sites, from blogs to corporate sites.
- Yahoo Pure.CSS Framework - an advanced responsive, mobile-first, HTML5, base-theme. It uses Yahoo Pure.CSS, the fastest responsive CSS framework.
- Zero Point - is a clean, 9+ color styles, table-less, SEO friendly and cross-browser theme that fully supports RTL (right-to-left) and BiDi (bi-directional) layout "out of the box".