UPDATED 21 AUGUST 2013
CONTRAST is an immensely powerful concept, probably the most
powerful among the design tools
CONTRAST - the use of light and dark, large and small, or
differently textured materials on a page - can be used to draw
attention to important elements on a page. A balance should be
found when using contrast because elements that draw too much
attention may detract the viewer from other material on the page. On
the other hand, using too little contrast makes the content receed
into a jumble of elements that the viewer must work hard to analyze.
When two items on a page are not meant to be the same, make
them obviously different.
Viewers glance at the page and see everything as a component of everything
else: the page itself...the logos, the type, the images, the empty spaces...
their interrelationships...as well as the pages that went before and the pages
that are to follow. They have to sort through a mess of stuff â€“ fast.
Therefore, you want to make the important elements stand out, while putting
the less important, supporting material in the background. You need to use
More on CONTRAST
Tools for Building Contrast
As soon as you place a line or a square on a page, you are setting up some
form of contrast. Learn to control it: it's the most effective way to get noticed
and set different elements apart.
Common types of contrast include: dark/light, warm/cool, large/small,
rough/smooth. Contrast can also occur in colour through hue, value, and
More on TYPES OF CONTRAST ..... 4
The human eye requires contrasts for visibility and legibility. Contrast creates
visual interest and helps deliver accurate information.
Colors that are close in value tend to blur together, and their borders "melt."
For example, black text on a dark blue background is hard to read. When the
color value is too close between text and background colors, it can create
When you are putting together different elements, you want to be sure they
have a contrasting color value unless you want the elements to just blur
together. This is especially important when you want readable text on a
Colors of contrasting values stand out from each other. On a blue background
yellow jumps out at the reader. When the color value has enough contrast
compared to the background it is easy to readâ€”but too much contrast or the
use of complementary colors is taking the idea of contrast too far. Colors will
appear to "vibrate" and will create legibility problems and give your poor
reader a headache.
Remember the simultaneous contrast effect! When colors are applied against
each other, their appearance can change. Don't just pick a text color without
looking at it against the planned background color. And expect to do some
visual experimenting before you find the right combination of colors.
Look at the chart on the left.
Notice the letters that are clearly readable
against the background. The letters that
disappear into the background have colour
values similar to the background.