How to use contrast to enhance your graphic design

  1. This principle can help you attract readers
  2. The size
  3. Meaning
  4. colour
  5. A type
  6. Other Contrasting Elements

This principle can help you attract readers

Contrast is a design principle that occurs when two visual elements are drastically different from each other. The greater the difference, the greater the contrast. The key to working with contrast is making sure the differences are apparent. You can create contrast in size, value, color, type and other elements.

Contrast helps you get your message across:

  • Emphasizing what’s important, leading the reader’s eye

  • Promote readability by emphasizing section headings

  • Grab the reader’s attention by adding interest to the page

Keep in mind that the contrast may be exaggerated. If everything contrasts sharply with everything else, you’ll end up with competing elements that confuse rather than help the reader. So be careful when using contrast.

The size

Placing two elements side by side that are similar in every way except size is one way to create contrast in size. For example, it can be large and small images or large and small fonts. Leaving lots of empty space around a small object is another way to contrast size.

Readers’ eyes are drawn to larger objects first, so zoom in on the objects you want to emphasize.


The relative brightness or darkness of two elements can create a contrast in value. Whether it’s shades of gray or shades and tones of the same color, the further those values ​​are, the greater the contrast.

You can use more than one contrast element together. For example, large white text on a black background followed by gray text on the same background combines value and size.


Use harmonizing, complementary and opposing colors to create contrast. When contrasting with colors, be careful with the meaning. Harmonizing colors (side by side on the color wheel) can look washed out if there isn’t enough difference in meaning between the two.

Consider the impact on viewers when determining contrasting color pairs. For example, bright red and bright blue contrast, but can cause eyestrain when viewed together.

A type

You can use size, value, and color to create contrasting typography edits. Highlight specific words more with one of the following options:

  • To add bold or italics

  • Mix large type with small type

  • Combination of serifs with serifs (sans serifs)

  • Set portions of text to contrasting colors or different values

  • Change the alignment or spacing type

  • Use additional but different typing styles

The strategic use of typography in your design is an art in itself. Learn the principles of combining fonts, such as limiting the number of types to two or three.

Other Contrasting Elements

Other elements you can use to create contrast include texture, shape, alignment, direction, and movement. Remember, the key is to make the most of the difference. A subtle change in font size or colors that are too close in meaning can be seen as a mistake, not an attempt to emphasize or interest.

Use your imagination to come up with additional ways to use contrast. For instance:

  • Add wide or irregularly shaped photos to compensate for tall, narrow columns of text.

  • In a series of static images, add an image that shows movement.

  • Make one element of a black and white photo stand out by adding color to it.

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