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Using Black And White Images With Colored Text For More Impact

Using Black And White Images With Colored Text For More Impact

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Do you get tired of being constantly surrounded by colorful images that seem to overwhelm the senses?

I know I do.

Today we are flooded with photos and other colorful images on the internet, on tv, in stores, on billboards and signs, all hoping to attract our attention by using color and more color. And then often on top of that, animated color. 

Many times I choose black and white if only to avoid color distraction.

Choosing photos is extremely important and can affect mood immediately. How you crop photos can also convey much in the way of communication and direct your published piece so take a few moments to really study your chosen image and learn to focus on what speaks to you.

I begin with a photo of a ‘homeless man’ from Pixabay. Pixabay is a great resource for free images.

Making a few adjustments

Since I know this photo will provide for a better layout if the man is facing the other way, I flip the image. This helps lead the eye from left to right and in to the page.

As I studied the photo I was struck by his prayerful pose and Cross tattoo. I could have shown a little more of the image to portray his stooped posture but I felt his head bowed low was enough to convey humility.

I leave the image as color for now and since this is a simple layout I use Photoshop.

Adding text

I don’t really have a theme for my image aside from homelessness so I decide upon the plight of homeless veterans.

Immediately these color choices of red and blue for my text conveys communication about who this person might be but it is not quite there yet.

I play around with the text blending modes to get the effect I want. I also change the text rotation to convey more of a disheveled look, the effect of a life falling apart, not neat and tidy as one would expect in the usual layout. I also used different type sizes and lowercase/uppercase mix. As you can see the whole image seems confused and too colorful. I could change the text to white or black and that would be fine but there is a better way to make this image convey exactly what I want.

Black and white

Immediately by changing the image to black and white a lot of distractions are removed. His hands and head become much more noticeable against the distant light background. Although I could have adjusted the photo to show more of his face, I didn’t mind keeping that obscure, it helps convey the feeling of a forgotten person.

I also placed him on a black layer. I also used the blending mode, difference which seemed to make the hands more noticeable to tie in with the word prayer directly above.

Color text with black and white creates great impact

Now we are getting there and this image is beginning to convey exactly what I want it to. More text is added making it red, white and blue. This time I keep the white text straight which implies more stability (as in help for the homeless), and since I needed a charity associated with prayer to make my message more cohesive I chose a well known charity with such a connection. Now the image more strongly conveys that of a homeless vet.

The Joseph House is a charity that helps the poor and homeless with various needs. 

As you can see color is not always necessary to communicate and being a little different from time to time can make your images stand out in a crowd and convey the deep emotion that black and white images are known for. Using just the right colors for your text against such a background can also help to communicate clearly to your audience in a powerful way. This image is purposefully raw to create the impact necessary for action.


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