Graphic Design 101: Contrast

non-contrast layout

Not a lot of visual contrast here. Zzzzzz...

example of better use of contrast

I'm lovin' it! The principle of contrast is used to make this layout more interesting.

Be Bold

Using contrast to make your pages look interesting is a lot of fun. It requires a bold touch – don’t wimp out here. In Robin Williams’ book The Non-Designer’s Design Book, she states: “If two items are not exactly the same, then make them different. Really different”.

How to create contrast? A graceful script with a bold sans-serif font, cool colour next to a warm colour, smooth/rough, small graphic with large, a long line of text paired with a tall narrow column of text. Creating blocks of colour with white type next to columns of dark type on a white background… there’s a zillion ways to do it. Next time you’re looking at a magazine, keep an eye out for the creative use of contrast.

Design Synergy

You’ll notice that in the various examples given lately that it’s sometimes hard to separate the one principal from the other. Proximity, Alignment, Repetition and Contrast all work together  to create interest in the pages you create. Look at what other designers have done and take notice of the various things they do to save the world from bland design. Experiment, and don’t be a sissy when it comes to using contrast.

These are the four basic principles as delineated in Robin Williams’ book The Non-Designer’s Design Book. There’s plenty more and we’ll cover that in the weeks to come. Stay tuned!


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