It isn’t hard to understand why contrast in graphic design is important. Compared to the principles we’ve already discussed (proximity alignment, and repetition), contrast may even be considered exciting!

Principle of design: Contrast

Contrast definition: Making at least 2 elements look different

To understand the contrast meaning, it is important to consider the purpose of contrast. In any design, contrast serves to create an interest on the page and help organize the information. That interest is often what makes a design stand out and say “Pick me up! I am important!”

See how the image above really grabs your attention by making the “H” big and bold and nicely contrasted in white over the rich warm honey color? High contrast can really make a design pop or draw the eye to a specific place.

Game night

You can use contrast to compliment the design. This flyer has appropriate graphics, but they tend to get in the way of the information. It is almost like the grey graphics contrast too much with the blue background and become distracting for the viewer.

Game night

Low contrast may be desired in instances where it becomes too distracting to be beneficial. In the redesign above, not only are the graphics nicely understated with the grey on black, but changing the text color to white creates more contrast on the more important aspect of the design. The graphics simply compliment the design and help add visual interest. 

Contrast is relatively simple, and if a designer can get it right it will really make a difference! Below are some tips for applying good contrast in your designs:

  1. Use contrast through your typeface choices, line thicknesses, colors, shapes, sizes, space, etc.
  2. Avoid using two or more typefaces that are similar. If they are not exactly the same, make them different!

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