Saturday, April 12, 2014

3 Graphic Design Tips for Authors

Welcome back to my blog! I hope Godzilla did not try to bar your entry! This week I wish to discuss Graphic Design for authors. I used to build websites and make graphics for various projects. I have a few simple tips that anyone can follow that can improve your website, meme, infographic, etc. Some of these are common sense, but as we all know common sense is not always so common. 

1.) Solid Color Background 

A solid color background is not always neccessary, but it looks more professional. If you want more of a picture in the background, you can still do it. You have to know how to make a box with a solid colored background for your text to do that. Sometimes it's better to save yourself the headache. Infographics can have small designs in the background, but the solid colors work better. The designs are OK if you use two neutral colors to make the pattern.

2.) Use Mostly Neutral Colors

The major colors that you use throughout your website should be neutral. A bright yellow background is going to hurt your visitor's eyes. You can still use yellow, but you need to mute it. Muting bright colors takes a bit of experimenting. I have found that the best way to do that is to either add white or dark grey to the color. Take the background for this website. I started with a light blue, and added dark grey until I got the desired neutral blue. If you add white to your bright yellow, you can mute it to the point where you have a yellowish off-white color that is neutral. White and black are always neutral, but white looks more professional as a background with black text. Links and other graphics to advertise can use brighter colors to draw attention, but use them in moderation. If this is something that your visitors are going to see all of the time then you should use a neutral color that won't hurt their eyes.

3.) Light Text on a Dark Background, Dark Text on a Light Background

Text needs to be readable. Why invite people to your website if no one can read your content? Bright pink text on a white background is not readable. Royal blue text on a black background can make someone's eyes hurt. It's usually best to stick to white or black text for websites. On memes, ads, or other types of graphics you may need to make your own background. Putting text over pictures can be tricky because you don't always have a solid background. Let's use the graphic at the top to prove my point.

The text in the above graphic is readable, but it's difficult. The easiest way to fix this is to box off the text in a nice dark background. You could also make the box transparent so it doesn't completely obscure the picture.

The text is easy to read, but the graphic is mostly covered. What I normally do instead is to add an outer glow to the text. For dark text a light glow, and light text a dark glow. If you reduce the distance to 1 or 2 pixels and increase the intensity to the maximum. This will put a small outline around the text that is almost imperceptible, but it makes it much easier to read.

It's much easier to read than the first example, but not as easy as the second. The picture is not obscured as much as the second. I feel this last example is the best option, but it may take a bit more experimentation to find the combination that you enjoy the most.

I wanted to share one more thing. If you are going to use a picture for a meme or to plaster a poem on top of, then you should make sure you have the right to use it. There are some websites that have public domain pictures that you can use for any purpose. Not every picture you find on Google is free to use.

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