I was able to visit the Tucson Museum of Art with my daughter’s fourth grade class last week. They displayed a beautiful white wedding dress that had a poem that was written on the train of the dress. The poem was made from letters cutout of red material. One thing that drew me to this wedding dress was the contrast of the beautiful white color of the dress and the bright red cutout letters. The red letters stood out from the white background and created excitement and drama. The dress piqued my interest.
One of the design principles that the artist of this wedding dress piece used was contrast. Contrast is the difference between elements. People think of contrasting colors such as black and white. However, contrast can be seen between the sizes of text, type of text or any difference between two elements.
Color contrast is an easy concept to recognize. You see contrasting colors everywhere. You can see the contrast of black and white stripes on a zebra.
The difference between black and white are obvious. However, there are many more colors that are not quite obvious. In nature, you can see the red petals of a flower compared to the green leaves of the plant. The red petals are a dark color while the green leaves are a lighter color.
Choosing the right colors are important. Some color combinations can clash and break your design. In this example, it has blue text on a black background. Blue on black is hard to read. They have similar values. They are both dark.
You shouldn’t use colors that are close in value. Red and orange are close in value and it can be hard on the eyes.
In a successful design, a designer pairs light and dark colors that have different values. You want to pick colors that complement each other. For example, using shades of blue, teal and green go well with each other. They sit close together on a color wheel. They are pleasing to the eye.
Contrasting colors can make your design exciting and dramatic to the viewer. You can find good color combinations by looking at a color wheel. There are many websites that where you can look at different color combinations. Adobe Color CC is a great website where you can enter a color and find good color combinations.
Contrast can be seen in the sizes of text. Many websites use large sizes of text for headlines. The large text draws the viewer in. It also differentiates the headline from the body text. If the headline and the body text were the same size, it would be hard to draw the viewer in. The headline would be lost with the body text. Having different sizes of text can help viewers know what is significant and what is not.
Using two different types of font is using the design principle of contrast. Some websites and print use different types of font to create contrast. They use a san serif with a serif font. As a general rule of thumb, it is good to use fonts that look different from each other. Using a serif font with a serif font will not create the contrast that we are looking for.
Contrast can be used in many different ways. It can be used in color, size of text and type of text. Make sure and try different ways to use contrast in your next design. Contrast can make your design good and draw viewers in.