An Excellent Article on Contrast in Visual Design from Design School

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Design School Article Here

“Value is just a term that refers to the lightness or darkness of a color, with pure black and pure white being the ultimate contrasting values. But you certainly don’t have to have to stick to a black-and-white color palette to create a high­-contrast design. Playing lighter and darker colors off of each other is one of the easiest ways to add contrast and make certain parts of your design more visible.

“As a simple example, think of dark text on a light background—or vice-­versa, as with this design. While it might otherwise be difficult to read small type on a photo, the contrast in values here (bright white typography over dark shades of purple and blue) makes it work.

02. Contrast with Color Hue

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“Hue is an artist’s term for a specific color, traditionally one of the 12 found on the color wheel. But color theory can come in handy for graphic and web designers, too. We can pull a number of classic palettes from the color wheel that painters have been using for centuries to create high-­contrast compositions. Some options include:

“• Complementary: opposites on the color wheel, such as red/green or blue/orange; complementary colors are high-contrast and high­-intensity.

“This badge uses a simple, complementary color scheme that’s both visually striking and practical, in that it separates and organizes various parts of the design into sections.

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“• Split­-Complementary: any color on the color wheel plus the two that flank its complement; this scheme still has strong visual contrast, but is less dramatic than a complementary color combination.

“• Triadic: any three colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel.

“Keep in mind that you don’t have to use these hues in their purest, brightest forms (like those seen in the color wheel chart above, which can sometimes clash). Making your colors lighter, darker, or muted may be more practical for real­-life design contexts, but can still lend some nice contrast to your design.

03. Contrast with Color Temperature

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“All colors can be separated into groups based on their temperature: warm, cool, or neutral. Reds, oranges, and yellows are considered to be warm, while blues and greens are cool. Black, white, and gray are neutrals (beiges and browns can also fall into this category depending on how they’re used). Mixing color temperatures in a design—particularly warm and cool—can create dramatic contrast.

“For example, this webpage layout features contrasting color temperatures with bright shades of blue and yellow. This helps both the call­-to­-action button and the main image stand out particularly well. Plus, because both of the colors lean in a cooler direction (with a greenish tinge), the combination has a cohesive look even though it’s very high-contrast.

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04. Contrast with Color Intensity

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“The intensity of a color is also known as saturation. A color in its purest, brightest form is 100% saturated; the closer it approaches to gray, the more desaturated it is. Using bright or muted colors (either by themselves or together) can be a strategic way to create places of high or low contrast in a design. Bright colors always attract attention, especially against black. Use them sparingly to highlight important parts of your design.

“This website design does just that, placing saturated, orangey-­red lettering against muted forest green. Not only is this a complementary color scheme (which is already eye­-catching), but it also uses contrasting levels of saturation to enhance the drama.

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05. Contrast with Shape: Organic vs. Geometric

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“Most shapes can be categorized as either geometric (rectangles, triangles, circles, etc.) or organic (fluid, nature­inspired). The angular uniformity of geometric shapes can contrast nicely with the often curving, asymmetrical qualities of organic shapes.

“Here, a label design incorporates organic, almost abstract shapes that complement and enhance the straight, clean lines of the typographic choices.

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06. Contrast with Shape: Edges & Corners

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“One more way you can subtly use shape in your design is on the edges and corners of your design elements, whether typography, boxes or buttons, or other features. More rounded shapes often have a softer, casual, or friendly appearance, while sharper shapes look more ordered and crisp. You can contrast these qualities against each other, as the design below does in a very literal way with its typography.

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07. Contrast with Texture

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“Like shape, textures can play off of each other to create contrast when their characteristics are very different from each other: rough vs. smooth, hard vs. soft, raised vs. flat. Unless you’re using a special printing effect or other physical technique, any texture you apply will be purely visual—and between the capabilities offered by various design programs and the free textures and resources you can find online, the possibilities are plentiful.

“Here, some gritty texture gives an otherwise clean-­lined logo some vintage character. Textures or distressing are great methods for making a design look a little worn or adding some rustic or vintage/retro qualities.

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08. Contrast with Scale & Size

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“Besides adding visual interest to your design, contrast also helps create relationships between and prioritize different design elements. If every object in your design is roughly the same size, there won’t be much of a hierarchy. How will viewers tell what to look at first, or what’s most important? Effectively using scale is not only important from a practical standpoint, but is also one of the easiest ways to create a dynamic, interesting layout and add drama to a design.

“This magazine cover has a huge photo to emphasize the theme of the issue, but it doesn’t overpower the other design elements. In fact, the size, shape, and color of the typography enhance the photographic focal point.

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09. Contrast with Visual Weight

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“Like scale, visual weight is another way to point at a piece of your design and say, “This part is important!” Visual weight simply refers to the way an element stands out in comparison to the rest of the design—in other words, it’s high­-contrast. The part of your design that has the most visual weight (most likely the focal point) doesn’t necessarily have to be the biggest thing on the page. You can also make something “weighty” or more visible with color, texture, shape or any other characteristic that sets it apart and attracts the eye.

“As an example, take a look at this series of postcards to promote the city of Cincinnati’s cultural venues. The architectural illustrations are certainly the biggest element on each card, but the “Enjoy More” tagline draws your eye because it’s the darkest thing on the page.

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10. Contrast with Spacing & White Space

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“While it may be tempting to fill a design with as much information as you can, white (a.k.a. blank or negative) space plays an important role in separating and organizing design elements for a balanced layout. When working with a busy or complex layout, surrounding important elements with some extra blank space (it doesn’t actually have to be white) will draw attention to those places and help them contrast more effectively with the rest of the design.

“Notice how effectively this webpage mockup employs a combination of white space and thin dividing lines to organize information. Both columns on the left-­ and right-hand sides of the page are surrounded by a generous amount of space; the product photo even more so to make it the center of attention and attract buyers.

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11. Contrast with Compositional Choices

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“”To some extent, every design must juggle the concepts of balance and tension—how do you make your design balanced, but not boring; dynamic, but not chaotic? One way to toe the line between the two (and in the process, achieve some good contrast in your design) is to make good compositional choices. To get a grasp on how to do this, it can help to learn about classic composition techniques used by artists and photographers. Some of these include:

“• The Rule of Thirds: Imagine dividing your layout into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. Place your focal point on one of the four points where those imaginary lines would intersect. This is about achieving a dynamic layout; there’s no quicker way to a boring design then placing everything smack dab in the middle of the page.

“In the first header image of the following website design, both the rose and the headline are centered approximately where the upper two intersections of a rule­-of­-thirds grid would be, making for a balanced, engaging composition. Groups of three (another common compositional technique) also appear throughout the page.

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“• Diagonals: A diagonal or S­-shaped layout can lend some movement to your design, helping direct viewers’ eyes across the page. It’s often more visually interesting than a traditional grid-based design that uses only horizontal and vertical orientation.

12. Contrast with Something Unexpected

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“The compositional techniques above are effective in part because they’re unexpected. They’re not straight, or not centered—not typical. This element of surprise can be a great way to create contrast in a design. Adding something unexpected—for instance, a bright pop of color in a neutral design—breaks up the sameness or uniformity and keeps viewers interested.

“The way the typography interacts with the photography on this landing page is out of the ordinary and gives an otherwise simple, straightforward design a little extra pizzazz.

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13. Contrast with Repetition & Patterns

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“”Strategically applying repeating design elements or patterns can create focus or visual interest in a way that’s similar to the compositional techniques just mentioned. Or repeating a visual theme can help give it greater impact in a design.

“This graphic designer’s business card design uses a pattern to balance out and frame the typography, which is the focal point. As a nice touch, the pattern reflects the shape of the designer’s personal logo to tie in that branding.

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14. Contrast with Position & Orientation

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“Every design needs some kind of organizational structure: text is aligned in certain ways, elements are assigned to certain positions in the layout, spacing is set. While consistency is key for an orderly design, mixing things up in a purposeful, limited way can add some interesting contrast.

“The logo below uses a slanted orientation to help its key piece of typography stand out against the straight, orderly text that surrounds it. Extra contrast is achieved with the pairing of script and sans ­serif type styles.

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15. Contrast with Proximity & Separation

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“Intentionally grouping objects can show that they’re related and help organize your design in a way that makes it easy to navigate. Likewise, separating objects can help divide a design into distinct sections. Contrast can also be achieved with quantity: a single object among groups of multiple objects (or vice­-versa) will certainly stand out.

“For a text-­heavy design like a resume, good structure is key. Here, proximity, alignment, and color all combine to make an information-packed page easy to navigate.

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16. Contrast with Visual Cues

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“Studies have shown that people remember 80% of what they see, which is one of the reasons why design can be such a powerful tool. But attention spans can be short, and sometimes viewers need a little nudge in the right direction to know where to focus in your design. That’s where visual cues can come in handy. You might literally point out a design element with an arrow or highlight it by surrounding it with a circle or other shape. Or in blocks of text, that might come in the form of underlining, bullet points, or icons that visualize the concepts being discussed (as below).

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17. Contrast with Complex & Simple Features

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“Designs can mix simple and complex styles or individual features to ramp up contrast. This is another example of using opposites to enhance each other. This idea is used to good effect in the following set of stickers, where ornate floral patterns set off clean and simple typography—the fact that the typography and its surroundings are so different only makes the overall result more dramatic and engaging.

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18. Contrast with Font Combinations

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“Typography is an essential part of most designs, and provides unique opportunities to add contrast. While basically all the methods of adding contrast we’ve already covered here can be applied to typography, there are also some special considerations to be aware of when choosing and applying fonts or creating custom typography for your designs.

“Let’s look at some of those with our last three points; first, combining fonts. If you’re using more than one font for a design, making sure your choices contrast sufficiently will be key to a successful design. Fonts need to be visually distinguishable from each other—different enough that you can assign distinct “jobs” to them in your design. One typeface might be for a headline or title, with another for text. But choosing fonts that are too similar can look confusing or like a mistake.

A basic rule of thumb is to choose one serif and one sans serif font. This is often a combination that is complementary, but also has nice contrast. For a more in­-depth look at this process, check out our 10 tips on combining fonts.

“The typographic logo below pairs a sans serif with a slab serif font (plus a script) for a perfectly balanced design that depends on its type choices for contrast.

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19. Be Cautious When Contrasting with Typography

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When combining fonts, you do want contrast, but you don’t want conflict. Two font choices that are wildly different from each other might clash—which, other than if you’re after an intentional style, usually doesn’t look good. Whether typefaces work together or not often comes down to a gut feeling or instinct rather than clear­-cut rules; trust your judgment, take mental note of font combinations you see that work well, and keep practicing—before you know it, combining fonts will seem like second nature.

The infographic below features several different fonts for a fun, eclectic look (which is appropriate for its humorous tone) but none of them are so “loud” that they clash; in fact, they work together nicely for the purposes of this design.

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20. Contrasting with Typography Style & Weight

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“Many fonts come with a variety of options, like light, bold, italic, condensed, extended, or small caps versions. This makes your job a little easier—even if you’re using just one font in your design, these alternatives can organize your text and create contrast between different typographic features. Try adding variations in point size or color for extra contrast.

“This design uses light and heavy weights of the same sans serif font for a polished look. A serif font also makes a cameo appearance for extra contrast.

 

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Excellent Article on Elements of Visual Composition from Design School

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Design School Article Here

“Composition refers to the way all the elements of your design are arranged to create a cohesive whole. It considers actual elements you might add to a design, like typography, photos, or graphics — but it also takes into account “invisible” elements that contribute to the overall visual effect of a layout, like white or blank space, alignment and margins, or any framework you might use to arrange your design (such as a grid, the golden ratio, or the rule of thirds). A careful composition should visually lead viewers through the design in a way that makes sense and happens naturally without a lot of thought on the part of the viewer (otherwise known as “flow”).”

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“As a simple example of flow, this business card has clear downward movement (aided by arrow-like shapes that literally point the way,) and its information has been arranged in order of importance, from top to bottom.

“This act of composing, of being thoughtful and intentional about how you piece together a layout, is a skill that applies to many different types of visual arts, from painting to photography. The nice thing is that once you learn the basics of strong composition, you’ll find that they’re useful for all sorts of creative endeavors.

“Now let’s look at some of the tools and techniques traditionally used to create effective, visually engaging compositions

Visual Weight & Balance: Create a Clear Hierarchy

A good composition isn’t just a neatly arranged collection of shapes, colors, and text. Every design has a purpose and communicates a message to its viewers, and a well-planned composition helps prioritize the design’s most important information and reinforce its message in a way that makes sense. This process of arranging information by its importance is often referred to as establishing a hierarchy. No hierarchy (or an inadequate one) makes for a confusing design that has no visual flow, and we don’t want that. Let’s look at two key elements of a clear hierarchy, focal points and balanced organization:

01. Choose a Focal Point

A focal point pulls people into your design and gives them a place to start looking at your composition. If viewers only had a couple seconds to glance at your design and take away one impression or piece of information, what would that be? That important element should be your main focal point, and to ensure it’s what people see first, you’ll want to find a way to emphasize that piece and make it the most visible part of the layout.

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“How to do that? Through giving your focal point visual weight. When a design element has visual weight, it’s what stands out the most at first glance. It’s visually “heavy” because it makes its presence felt in the layout — you can immediately tell that it’s important, and it attracts your attention through something about its appearance, often by contrasting with the rest of the design. There are a lot of techniques to choose from to give your focal point visual weight, including but not limited to:

  • Size
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Texture
  • Position

Let’s walk through some examples:

“Make It Big. The largest thing in your design will likely be the first thing people see. However, sometimes size alone isn’t enough to make your focal point visible; make sure you’re aware of how it interacts with the rest of the design. As with the poster below, surrounding your focal point with some blank space often helps guide viewers’ eyes there.

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Via Dribbble. Design by Ruben Rodrigues.

Attract Attention with Unusual Shapes. The following ad is an interesting composition on multiple levels. It first catches your eye with an unusual shape, which turns out to be the outline of a guitar. That shape leads your eye to the neck of the guitar, which is formed by the main text of the ad. All these design choices — the shape of the guitar, the photo of the soldier, the story that the text tells — support the overall theme and message of the design in a visually engaging way, which is the goal and result of good composition.

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Via Ads of the World. Design by Joel Given.

Choose Stand-Out Colors. This website design applies a vivid neon green color to its call-to-action (the “Download the App” button). Even though the button certainly isn’t the biggest object on the page, it’s the first thing that attracts your attention because of its color.

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“Add Texture for Visual Interest. The ad below features textures for a retro look that adds extra visual interest, but it also draws attention to certain parts of the design. Notice how the darker-colored distressing on “Print Shop” helps that phrase stand out. That the letters of “Free” in “Free Shipping” aren’t completely smooth and solid also draws attention to that offer.

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” Position for Maximum Visual Impact. Choosing the right location for your focal point will make sure it serves its purpose in drawing viewers into your design. Both the upper lefthand corner and the center of the composition are common choices, but the most effective spot will depend on the specifics and requirements of each project.

 

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02. Balance and Organize the Rest of the Design

“After a focal point gives viewers an entrance into your design, then it needs to be organized in such a way that they can navigate the rest of the layout easily. This is where the hierarchy really comes into play to give viewers a clear pathway to travel through the composition. Should their eyes move down the page? Across? From one section to another?

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“How the rest of the design flows from the focal point will be key to a successful composition. You can guide viewers through your layout with some of the techniques we’ve already discussed, but most designs will benefit from an overall structure or organizing principle. Instead of just randomly throwing elements into your design and hoping it turn outs ok, being thoughtful and intentional about building your composition will always create a more usable and visually appealing experience for your audience. Let’s look at some common techniques:

Use a Grid. Aligning your design to a grid of some sort is an easy and effective way to keep things neat and organized. The possibilities for grid-based layouts are pretty endless, so you don’t need to feel boxed in (no pun intended!) to a certain type of arrangement. In fact, we have quite a few to choose from in Canva to get you started:

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Canva

The website design below applies grids both to the overall structure of the site as well as within that structure to organize and separate information (notice the visible grid lines beneath each image). The result is a clean, orderly composition that establishes a clear way to explore the website and find the information you need.

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Via Dribbble. Design by Robert Brodziak.

To learn more about using grids in your designs, make sure to check out another Design School article, “15 Reasons Why a Grid-Based Approach Will Improve Your Designs.”

Try the “Rule of Thirds.” The rule of thirds is classic composition technique in the visual arts, but you might hear photographers particularly singing its praises. Why? Proponents of this technique point out that when the subject (or focal point) is in the exact middle of a composition, the result is boring and predictable. To create a more dynamic and visually interesting composition, you shift the focus to one side. The rule-of-thirds grid (see below) is a shortcut for creating a balanced but dynamic composition. It divides an image or layout into equal thirds, both vertically and horizontally, with six lines. The lines, or ideally the four points where those lines intersect, are good spots to place your focal point.

This ad places the focal point (the logo and name of the brand it’s advertising) squarely in the upper third of the composition. Also notice how the folded wallets cleverly allude to the shape of the British flag (the ad is for a London-based leather goods company) and also point right to the brand name… This is a compositional technique known as “leading lines.” More on that in the next section.

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Via Behance. Design by DNA Advertising.

Consider Symmetry. Symmetry is one of the biggest contributors to a balanced design. A symmetrical design is equally balanced on both sides of a central axis, either vertically, horizontally, or radially (radiating, usually circularly, out from a central point). Even symmetry that’s not exact can improve the visual balance of a layout.

The design below has both vertical and horizontal symmetry, so even though its decorative style has a lot going on, it still looks balanced.

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Via Dribbble. Design by Justin Schafer.

And this event poster features a form of radial symmetry. The focal point is the series of images leading up to the name of the event, and the textual information radiates out from there, balancing the visual weight of the images.

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Via Dribbble. Design by Alex Egner.

Leave Some White Space. The white or blank areas in a design are not wasted space, but essential to a balanced composition. Leaving sufficient white space keeps your layout from being too cluttered and gives your design elements some breathing room. It also gives the eye pathways to travel through the design and a place to rest in between looking at the layout — this is especially important to keep a content-heavy composition from overwhelming viewers.

For example, the white space between and around the content of this web page keeps your eyes circling from one section to the next and creates a nice sense of flow as well as a clean, minimal style.

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Via Dribbble. Design by Robert Brodziak.

Leading Lines: Create Movement to Lead the Eye

“Leading lines are literal or implied lines that lead viewers’ eyes where you want them to go — usually to the focal point of your design, but sometimes just from one section or element of the layout to another. Leading lines can take a number of different forms, including:

01. Diagonal Lines

“Diagonal lines create movement or imply direction across the design, often from top to bottom and left to right, like with reading.

“Another common technique is to use two diagonal lines coming from opposite directions to direct users’ focus to a single point. If you’ve ever taken an art class during your school days, a common exercise is to draw a road or pathway extending into the distance: two diagonal lines coming from opposite directions, starting out wide but narrowing until they meet at a spot on the horizon known as the “vanishing point.” This is diagonal leading lines in action, and one of the most basic ways to create depth and perspective in a composition.

“The following website design uses this concept to organize its product image gallery. Notice how the diagonal lines created by the yellow shape in the background (along with selective blurring) create a sense of depth in the design.

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Via Dribbble. Design by Cosmin Capitanu.

“In this next example, notice how the main illustration on the book cover creates a diagonal line that points right to the title. Then your gaze can fall back down the same path to the subtitles and author. It’s a clever and effective design move in terms of composition, but it’s also a multipurpose solution in that it visually establishes the subject of the book.

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Design by Oliver Munday.

“On the other hand, the diagonal movement here is not guided by an actual line, but rather implied by the placement and overlapping of the design elements. The result is a composition that’s more visually interesting than a traditional grid-based design.

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Via Dribbble. Design by STUDIO–JQ.

02. Z Shapes & S Curves

“Like diagonal lines, these shapes give the eye a path to travel through the design. Z shapes follow English/Western reading patterns (left to right, top to bottom) and are a common choice for many layouts.

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Via Dribbble. Design by Piotr Adam Kwiatkowski.

Though they run in the opposite direction, S curves occur often in nature and can lend a fluid sense of movement to a composition.

“The layout for the website design below might be non-traditional, but its curving composition leads your eye from one section to the next and is a big part of what makes it visually interesting.

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Via Dribbble. Design by Joey Furr.

03. Repeating Lines and Patterns

“Repetition can act as a leading line, guiding your gaze in a certain direction. It may take the form of repeating lines, shapes, or other elements arranged in a directional way. Repetition can also be a great way to reinforce a visual theme and add a sense of rhythm to your design. Even in-text elements that repeat, like bullet points or numbered lists, can help organize a design and give it a sense of flow.

“The following magazine layout repeats a visual theme of diagonal lines and triangular shapes in two ways: on individual pages or spreads (to guide readers through the content) and throughout the issue (to create consistency and a sense of rhythm through the whole publication).

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Via Behance. Design by Bartosz Kwiecień.

04. The Human Gaze

“When faces make an appearance in a design, especially through photography, viewers are sure to take notice — our brains like to look for faces. One effective way to create a subtle leading line is to have the subject in a photo looking toward the focal point of your design; viewers will follow right along and look there too.

“On this magazine cover, the person in the photo (actor Daniel Day Lewis) seems to be looking at the text that describes what’s in the issue. But reading the text guides you right back to the photo. This looping interaction keeps your focus on the cover — a good technique, especially if you want someone focused on a design long enough to want to purchase it.

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Via From Up North.

Over to You

“Learning some effective techniques for composing designs can really help level up your projects in terms of both aesthetics and function. We hope this introduction to some of the design principles of good composition will prove useful. As always, happy designing!

 

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Learn How This Image Became So Powerful That It Did Not Need Words At All

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Rosie the Riveter Became Symbolic of the World War II Female Who Was Strong Enough to Carry America Forward, When Its Men Were Off to War.  See How the Rosie Poster Became One of the Most Powerful of All War Posters Ever and How Rosie Herself Is A Picture Worth 1,000 Words

Allow me to take you on an image and word journey, showing you exactly how images are more powerful than words:

Begin by Reading the Following words and Monitor your Reaction:

We Can Do It!

Let’s Bold It –

We Can Do It!

Let’s Explain It – With MANY More Words:

Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II, many of whom produced munitions and war supplies.[1][2] These women sometimes took entirely new jobs replacing the male workers who were in the military. Rosie the Riveter is commonly used as a symbol of feminism and women’s economic power.[3] Use of similar images of women war workers appeared in other countries such as Britain and Australia. Images of women workers were widespread in the media as government posters and commercial advertising was heavily used by the government to encourage women to volunteer for wartime service in factories.[4]…

According to the Encyclopedia of American Economic History, “Rosie the Riveter” inspired a social movement that increased the number of working American women from 12 million to 20 million by 1944, a 57% increase from 1940.  By 1944 only 1.7 million unmarried men between the ages of 20 and 34 worked in the defense industry, while 4.1 million unmarried women between those ages did so.[23]…

In 1942, Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller was hired by the Westinghouse Company’s War Production Coordinating Committee to create a series of posters for the war effort. One of these posters became the famous “We Can Do It!” image—an image that in later years would also be called “Rosie the Riveter,” though it was never given this title during the war. Miller is thought to have based his “We Can Do It!” poster on a United Press International wire service photograph….Wikipedia

An entire Wikipedia of Words will not increase my interest in this account. More words are not needed–we need something to increase our interest in the words.

How about this?

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Even this is better!

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With the added stroke, I have not only added more interest, but I am talking about patriotism now!

How about this for red, white, and blue patriotism and women who are strong?

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Now, I am beginning to get the picture–and I am getting it without any words at all–Patriotic Women Are Strong!

How about this:

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Wow! But Wait! Why the Yellow?

That color of orangey yellow is the complement of Vincent Van Gogh Delft Blue.

Any time that you can place 2 complements NEXT to each other, your message will be a Smash Dunk!

Notice how much more powerful the poster with only words [and yellow] is as opposed to that without yellow.

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In the final poster [with Rosie herself added], you don’t even need the words to know that Women Are Strong Enough to Handle Things. They Can Do It!

More about the power of images Here

and Here

Learn How This Image Drove A Country Into Action – An Experiment Illustrating That A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words & More Statistics

“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.” Dr. Lynell Burmark, Ph.D. Associate at the Thornburg Center for Professional Development and writer of several books and papers on visual literacy, said, “…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear.”

Whoever controls the media—the images—controls the culture. – Alan Ginsberg

Considering that Alan  Ginsberg was a poet and an author and not a photographer or visual artist, this admission from him speaks volumes. 

This week I am on a campaign to explain why images are vital to online communication, powerpoint–as well as to books, as illustration.

I have an experiment for you. How impressed are you with the following comment:

I Want You

I dare to say that the previous sentence is not very impressive to most people.

Let’s try it again. Let’s try it in bold:

I Want You

That is still fairly unimpressive. Let’s try the words as a quote:

I Want You

Well, at least I see the words now. The words are separated from the rest of the text. Let’s try bolding the words, putting them in a quote

I Want You 

With every added action on the words, we make them more noticeable. Now, let’s try turning the words into images:

poster-i-want-you

By merely placing the word inside a decorative frame, changing the colors and sizes, our three words are definitely beginning to stand out. Take a peek at how an image, combined with three words, moved an entire country into action:

“Originally published as the cover for the July 6, 1916, issue of Leslie’s Weekly with the title “What Are You Doing for Preparedness?” this portrait of ‘Uncle Sam’ went on to become–according to its creator, James Montgomery Flagg–“the most famous poster in the world.” Over four million copies were printed between 1917 and 1918, as the United States entered World War I and began sending troops and matériel into war zones” – .http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm015.html

“As early as the late nineteenth century, advertisers, based on their collective experience, were convinced that illustrations sold goods.” – http://billiondollargraphics.com/infographics.html

Clearly, we are more drawn to the poster with Uncle Sam’s image on it than we are to the poster without the image, and the poster with words is far more impressive than the first strings of mere words. The famous Uncle Sam poster was created 100 years ago, as propoganda to encourage people to enlist in the World War I effort. In no time, that poster became the most famous poster of all time, and its value is still recognized. If people, 100 years ago, responded better to images than to text, imagine how much greater the need for text is now–in the 21st Century, when texting, multitasking, tweeting, and other hurried efforts to communicate, are distracting potential viewers.

“So visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text, graphics quickly affect our emotions, and our emotions greatly affect our decision-making. If most of our decisions are based on relatively quick intuitional judgment and emotions, then how many decisions are influenced by visually appealing, easily digested graphics? The answer is no secret to advertisers.

Billions of dollars are spent annually to find the right imagery to sell a product, service, or idea. The United States Military spent $598 million in 2003 on advertising to increase “brand identity” and meet their annual recruitment goals. Nike spent $269 million in 2001 on its image to sell their products. Anheuser-Busch spent $440 million to promote its products in 2001. Pepsi budgeted over $1 billion in 2001 on its image. Not to be out done, Coca-Cola budgeted $1.4 billion for its image in the same year. Graphics help create “brand identity.” Visuals paint the picture of who the advertiser is, what they stand for, and how the audience may benefit. Graphics sell because of their ability to influence. How you use graphics greatly affect how you and your business are perceived.

Study after study, experiment after experiment has proven that graphics have immense influence over the audience’s perception of the subject matter and, by association, the presenter (the person, place, or thing most associated with the graphic) because of these neurological and evolutionary factors. The audience’s understanding of the presented material, opinion of the presented material and the presenter, and their emotional state are crucial factors in any decision they will make. Without a doubt, graphics greatly
influence an audience’s decisions. Whoever properly wields this intelligence has a powerful advantage over their competition.”

http://billiondollargraphics.com/infographics.html

Images Create Pacing and Drive the Reader To Your Post and Through It

Compare the Following Text about Sally Field’s Role in Places in the Heart both With Images and Without

Many years ago, I watched the movie Places in the Heart. The setting is in a cotton-farming part of Texas, just after the Depression, in 1930. I grew up in the cotton-farming region of Southeast Missouri–about 20 years after the setting of  Places in the Heart; but when I first watched the movie, I recognized my family and my childhood home, as it must have been when my parents were kids–and as it still was, in some ways, when I was a child.

By the time that I was a child, some things in the Bootheel had become more modern; but the stamp of the Depression era was indelibly etched upon my town. When I was a child, I was not forced to desperately try to save my home as Edna Spalding [Sally Field] did, but I did pick cotton during the fall. In fact, the kids my age were the last of the generations of children who were dismissed for cotton “vacation,” when we would pick cotton.

From first-hand experience, I know how it feels to have your hands splintered by the dried cotton hulls, and I know how the splinters swell and ache. I know the sting of cotton’s caterpillars, and I know how, after hours of  stooping over to pick cotton, your back begins to groan. I also know how it feels to lift a heavy sack of cotton to your shoulders and carry it to the wagon to be weighed.

Because I know Edna Spalding, I know that Sally Field was beyond superb in the portrayal of her.

I am a visual person and because I like music, I prefer many of the cinematic versions of most books–as compared to the books themselves. People argue with me about that, and I simply say, “To each, his own.” But when a movie becomes life itself, and I can step into any scene and take part, I feel that the movie has succeeded.

Although Sally Field did receive an Academy Award for her performance in this movie, the movie is only rated now as 3.5 out of 5 stars. That shocks me. To me, the movie is a solid 5 stars, but I believe that many do not love the movie as I do, simply because they have not lived it. Unlike for me, Places in the Heart is not part of many people’s memories, and such is the ever-moving, ever-changing wheel of history.

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I have often said that each of us has the capacity to directly touch life, as we lived it during our own generation and to vaguely reach backward through the tales of our grandparents. After that, we have little real understanding of the history before that time.

photo-256889_640

I am almost 66-years-old, and my span of history far exceeds that of most people living today. Plus, I lived in a remote, rural cotton-growing community in Southeast Missouri. Because of that, my experience is also unique to that of most people today. Yet, picking cotton just outside of a tiny, dusty town is part of my direct memory, and I am absolutely in awe of the way that Sally Field brought that almost gone period of myself back to life again.

—————————————

In looking at the above, illustrated text, you will note that it is more attractive to the reader than the following with no text. The images also serve as resting places for the reader. Places where the reader can conveniently stop, reflect, and then jump right back into the reading.

Images are essential to grab the interest of the readers that might dart past you blog site without images–if they come at all. Thereby, images drive readers to your posting and they also drive the readers through your posting.

Now Without Images

Many years ago, I watched the movie Places in the Heart. The setting is in a cotton-farming part of Texas, just after the Depression, in 1930. I grew up in the cotton-farming region of Southeast Missouri–about 20 years after the setting of  Places in the Heart; but when I first watched the movie, I recognized my family and my childhood home, as it must have been when my parents were kids–and as it still was, in some ways, when I was a child.

By the time that I was a child, some things in the Bootheel had become more modern; but the stamp of the Depression era was indelibly etched upon my town. When I was a child, I was not forced to desperately try to save my home as Edna Spalding [Sally Field] did, but I did pick cotton during the fall. In fact, the kids my age were the last of the generations of children who were dismissed for cotton “vacation,” when we would pick cotton.

From first-hand experience, I know how it feels to have your hands splintered by the dried cotton hulls, and I know how the splinters swell and ache. I know the sting of cotton’s caterpillars, and I know how, after hours of  stooping over to pick cotton, your back begins to groan. I also know how it feels to lift a heavy sack of cotton to your shoulders and carry it to the wagon to be weighed.

Because I know Edna Spalding, I know that Sally Field was beyond superb in the portrayal of her.

I am a visual person and because I like music, I prefer many of the cinematic versions of most books–as compared to the books themselves. People argue with me about that, and I simply say, “To each, his own.” But when a movie becomes life itself, and I can step into any scene and take part, I feel that the movie has succeeded.

Although Sally Field did receive an Academy Award for her performance in this movie, the movie is only rated now as 3.5 out of 5 stars. That shocks me. To me, the movie is a solid 5 stars, but I believe that many do not love the movie as I do, simply because they have not lived it. Unlike for me, Places in the Heart is not part of many people’s memories, and such is the ever-moving, ever-changing wheel of history.

I have often said that each of us has the capacity to directly touch life, as we lived it during our own generation and to vaguely reach backward through the tales of our grandparents. After that, we have little real understanding of the history before that time.

I am almost 66-years-old, and my span of history far exceeds that of most people living today. Plus, I lived in a remote, rural cotton-growing community in Southeast Missouri. Because of that, my experience is also unique to that of most people today. Yet, picking cotton just outside of a tiny, dusty town is part of my direct memory, and I am absolutely in awe of the way that Sally Field brought that almost gone period of myself back to life again.

[YAWN – Without Images]

I posted a similar snippet of memoir both with and without images Here

Compare a Snippet of Memoir With and Without Images: A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words

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My ancestors were among the earliest people to settle in Virginia, and my family’s history is that of the people who carved their ways through the Cumberland Gap, crossed Appalachia, and finally arrived in the Southern Midwest. I am fortunate that I have my great aunt’s words that she must have directly overheard, describing my people’s movement west.

As a visual experiment, I will first share some of my great aunt’s words without images. Then, I’ll share them again, with images.  Judge which account is more vivid to you.

What My Great Aunt Said:

“Kenley and Mayme experienced many moves and changes some of which consisted of log houses, wilderness, wild animals, pole roads over which they had to travel slowly during stormy winters and hot, dry summers. Wild animals were hunted, butchered and prepared for food. Also, wild animal skins were sold for fifty cents each. There were domesticated animals used for food; and, of course, there were animals as pets to enjoy and to utilize as protection. Wages at that time were $1.50 a day. They made long trips along the wagon trails, used ferry boats for crossing rivers and streams, and traded cattle and horses.

“They searched for inexpensive farm and hunting land to rent or to purchase; however, the chose to buy choice land for their home sites. Their days were filled with experiences as they met Indians who became friends, traveled with them, camped out, drank strong coffee boiled on open fire, and shared meats and other needs. Because animals were plentiful, there was sufficient food for preparing and eating by the campfire. Coal oil lanterns were utilized on their long journey. Marksmen with their guns and bows and arrows hunted deer for food. The long trips included time for Bible study although they were traveling to find work which took them from city to city and from one state to another.” Curry, Mildred.

I’ll only share a bit of the above passage with images, but I’ll provide a link to a spot where the entire account is illustrated with old photographs.

As you read the illustrated account, also notice that the images provide resting spots–places to help a reader move from point to point. The images not only draw a reader to the post, but they also drive the reader through the post.

“Kenley and Mayme experienced many moves and changes some of which consisted of log houses, wilderness, wild animals, pole roads over which they had to travel slowly during stormy winters and hot, dry summers.

“Wild animals were hunted, butchered and prepared for food. Also, wild animal skins were sold for fifty cents each.

 

“There were domesticated animals used for food; and, of course, there were animals as pets to enjoy and to utilize as protection. Wages  at that time were $1.50 a day.

“They made long trips along the wagon trails, used ferry boats for crossing rivers and streams, and traded cattle and horses.”

See the rest of the illustrated account Here

While the illustrated account is probably too heavily illustrated, there is no doubt that most people will be more drawn to the text with images–as opposed to that without.

It is important to keep in mind that when a person crosses your path via social media, he is no doubt racing past. The writer has a fraction of a second to catch the attention of the passersby.  Images provide the impetus for the viewer to stop and take another glance.

The Internet has numerous studies, proving that sites that use images wisely are better viewed than those which do not. If you are willing to take the time to blog about something, take about 5 minutes more and provide a decent image or two for your post.  Doing so will probably decide whether you are viewed or not.

Read what I said about my family tree and the family’s westward expansion from Virginia: Moving West

2015 Statistics Show Images Are Essential for Online Communication

Autumn scene. Fall. Trees and leaves in sun light

Compare the above image to the below. Both say the same thing, but ask yourself, “Which says it better?”

Autumn scene. Fall. Trees and leaves in sun light

I am fortunate to have studied both visual art and writing at the graduate level, and I am fortunate to be able to effectively use both in my blogs and other social media. I also feel qualified to advise others that the use of images is essential to online communication in today’s America. But don’t take my word for it. Allow me to share with you some statistics:

17 Stats You Should Know About Visual Content Marketing Here

Allow me to present you with a brief overview:

“…marketers who are leveraging visual content are seeing significant increases in their blog traffic, social media engagement, visitor-to-lead conversion rates and inbound customer acquisition results.”

“Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets.”

“70% of marketers plan to increase their use of original visual assets in 2015”

“Over the last 12 months almost every major social network, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram have increased the prominence and importance of visual content. Keeping pace with this trend, several research studies conducted over the course of 2014 point to the rather amazing effectiveness of visual content for social media.” http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-strategy

Because I was essentially paid to get my MA in English, I earned that degree first. As I sat before the graduate committe to earn my second MA in visual art, a professor said to me, “You already have one MA, why do you want another?”

My quick and simple reply was [and still is]: “Because A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words.”

Obviously, I continue to write; therefore, I still believe that one’s best approach is to add writing to images and to present the 2 as a harnessed team.

This site will be committed to sharing evidence that A Picture Truly IS Worth 1,000 Words–and More!

Beautiful Fall Free and Coyright-Free Photograph Cropped and Ready to Use on Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Etc.

oak-leaves-blue-838-fb

I found this gorgeous fall photo that is both Free and Copyright-Free on thePickabay Site.  

In this post, I’ll provide you with some pre-cropped versions of this image that will be ready for you to use on Facebook, several different Wordpress Blog Headers, Twitter, etc. 

In order to do that, the images need to be cropped at set sizes for each situation,

Facebook Cover Images 

A Facebook Cover Image should be 838 pixels wide and 315 pixels high. If the image is not that large, your Facebook Cover or Header will be blurry. The above image is 838 x 315.

Because I knew that the profile image would cover the lower left corner, I rotated the image before I cropped it into the correct size.

2editfbcover1

Notice that I also cropped the image so that the upper fringe of orange will balance the lower left place, where the profile image will go.

2editfbprofile4 A Facebook Profile Image should be 180 pixels x 180 pixels .

I used the Rule of Thirds to help me decide where to crop the image. Notice that one dominant vertical line follows along the leaf, to the tip [on the left],  and the upper horizontal line is approximately where the cusps face each other, about 1/3 of the way downward.

oak-leaves-blue-838-fb-profile

Feel Free to save this Facebook Profile Image to Your Computer and Use It

oak-leaves-blue-838-fb-cover

Feel Free to Save this Facebook Cover Image to Your Computer and Use It.

A Faceboook Post image should be 440 pixels x 440 pixels. I created the following in that dimension, but the emptiness [on the right] seems to beg for some text. there

Twitter displays images that are 440 x 220 or a larger image cropped to a proportion of 2:1
Following is a suitable Twitter Image:

oak-leaves-blue-twitter

The WordPress Free Theme Blaskan needs a Header that is 1120 pixels x 160 pixels. 

Following is the photograph cropped to that dimension:

leaves-253258_11128x160

Below is how the image looks, as a header on that theme.

leaves-253258_11128x160-in-header

  A Widget Image for theFree WordPress Blaskan Theme can be 300 pixels wide:

oak-leaves-blue-widgetimage300 Widget Images can be hyperlinked.

The widget image Everyone Loves Something Free is hyperlinked. Click on it and see where it takes you.

The Free WordPress Theme Mystique – with one sidebar- also uses Widget Images that are 300 pixels wide.

The Header Image for the Mystique Image must be 940 pixels x 200 pixels Here

On that site, the above Widget Image is Hyperlinked back to this site.

Following is the Widget Image at 225 Pixels Wide When the Free WordPress Theme Mystique is displaying 2 sidebars, the Widget Images cannot exceed 225 pixels wide.

oak-leaves-blue-widgetimage225

Following is another 300 pixel Widget Image

watercolor-janis-300px-widget-image 300 pixels wide

janis-225px-widget-image 225 pixels wide

Pixabay Excellent Source of Copyright-Free Images

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Like Pexels, Pixabay is an outstanding resource for finding high-quality images that are both free and copyright-free.

A Large Pixaby file is 1920 pixels. Some of the images offer huge file options. Check of the size options for the above image. The XL image is 7360 pixels x 4919, which is large enough to function as a wallpaper.

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Pickabay has both the ethereal, more abstract images and the more straightforward, too.

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In addition, the site also has the arranged or still life set-ups:

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Pixabay has a vast and versatile collection of images that are indexed with large thumbnails that are easily searched. It is  part of the Creative Commons group of copyright-free resources, which also includes music and video.

Search Creative Commons Here

I have Creative Common bookmarked–for quick search. When I cannot find what I want on Pixabay, my next search is via Pexels. Afterward, I check Google Images [under the hood of Creative Commons] and finally, I check Wikimedia.

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