Color and Design (Composition)

The proper use of color and the strategic placement of text in images or against colored backgrounds can determine the readability and understandability of content.

In some situations, it may seem that it takes away from artistic freedom. However, consider the analogy of choosing a glaze for a ceramic bowl. If you choose a lead-based glaze for the color of the ceramic bowl, it is not safe to eat from. Therefore, the ceramic bowl is only for aesthetic, not functional, purposes.

We compose messages on various information and communications technologies (ICT). When creating those messages, our goal is to provide functional art. It must be informative first, artistic second.

Best Practices

  • Use color in moderation.
  • Do not alternate colors repeatedly.
  • Take advantage of white space (i.e., any color area that has no text or pattern).
  • Use colors that contrast well enough against each other, depending on font size.
  • Do not use red and black or the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi blue and green against each other.
  • Do not use complementary colors, bright colors, or low contrasting colors against each other.
  • Use outlines or drop shadows to separate low contrasting colors and maybe thicker text, but never use just thicker text.
  • If possible, increase font size, thickness, and/or color when overlaying text on a pattern. If not possible, stick to a solid background color.

Text Overlaying Patterns (or Graphics)

Check out the tools that check color contrast between background colors and patterns versus text.

One of the more challenging issues regarding graphics and text is how to combine the two in the same area. This does not always work. If an adjustment of font size, thickness, and/or color cannot make it readable and understandable, then you should consider using a solid background color that contrasts well with the text in the foreground.

Guidelines regarding elements and principles of design can be broken for artistic purposes. For most situations, however, they should be followed for functional purposes.