What type of typography should I use with this image?
August 21, 2013 7:55 AM   Subscribe

I´m trying to make a flyer to advertise some classes I´m teaching. There´s an image I really would like to use, but it has very light and very dark areas, making it very difficult to add text to it.

The image in question is this one. And I´m trying to do something similar to this.

The second image is a flyer I´ve made for the classes I´m teaching in a different place, so the amount of text is the same (just some of the information changes, and the logo in the top right corner doesn´t go). I think it´s safe not to consider posting this here as advertising, since most likely you don´t live in the same country I do.

When I use black text, some of it is hard to read because of the dark areas in the carving. When I use white text, it gets lost with the background.
I haven´t found any other colour that looks good.

How can I achieve a similar aestethic using that photo? It´s about Sacred Circle Dances, so I want it to give an idea of calmness and flow, which is why I´m not just using rectangles of a plain colour with text on them.

Please answer as if I had no idea about graphic design, I don´t. I use GIMP, but I also have PS CS6.

posted by Fermin to Media & Arts (11 answers total)
One way is to use white text with a black outline, or vice versa.
posted by egg drop at 8:01 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could play with the opacity of the image. That will fade it out a bit an be less contrast-y behind the text. Maybe crop it, even with a bit of perspective, so that it's mostly carving?
posted by humboldt32 at 8:18 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wherever you want text to be, make a white rectangle and then make it less than 100% opaque, and then put dark text over top of it. Anything between 40%-60% opacity could work, just play around with it. This is very easy to do in Photoshop, should be easy in GIMP as well.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:29 AM on August 21, 2013

Best answer: I usually use an 'outer glow' for stuff like this-- if you use white text, use a dark brown outer glow (matching the wood). If you use dark text, use a light outer glow (matching the background).

In PS, choose your layer with the text on it, go to the layers panel, choose 'layer style', and choose 'outer glow'-- there, you can change the specifics of it.

The other thing you can do is to go into 'levels' (image -> adjustments -> levels) and look at the 'Output Levels' box at the bottom. Clicking the black arrow triangle at the left and moving it right will make the whole background lighter; doing the opposite (clicking the white arrow at the right and moving it left) will make the whole background darker. This will let you just use light or dark text.

I would also suggest a 'bold' or 'black' font, as they would be easier to read against a busy background. Feel free to memail me if this is not clear!
posted by matcha action at 8:33 AM on August 21, 2013

So you want black and white filigree patterns like this? I would try to prevent the image from pulling too much attention from the important text everyone needs to read for your advertisement to be considered a successful one.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:09 AM on August 21, 2013

I haven´t found any other colour that looks good.

Use an eyedropper to grab a color in the image and slot it into Color Scheme Designer or colorschemer?
posted by juv3nal at 10:42 AM on August 21, 2013

You could simply make the background darker so white lettering will show up across the entire image. You can mostly select the background by using "select by color" in the GIMP, but you'll have to edit the selected area because some of the highlighted areas in the wooden object overlap in color with background. Once you've selected the background areas, you can yank the color of the background around with "brightness-contrast" and "curves".

I'm pretty rusty with the GIMP, so I may be underestimating how tedious getting the selection right will be. (I know it will be at least kind of tedious.) There might be simpler ways to separate and edit the background than what I'm suggesting.

You could also make the whole image lighter so black text will show up on it. This would be a lot easier since you won't have to fiddle around with selections, you can just adjust the entire image with "brightness contrast", "levels" or "curves". The image behind your text will end up being really washed out and not look as good, or as rich, as it would if you'd if kept it darker though.

I'm sorry for giving you a 'you can do this, but I don't remember exactly how' answer. Hopefully, other people will give more helpful explanations of how to adjust the background image you're using, which is what I think you need to do.
posted by nangar at 10:59 AM on August 21, 2013

Ok, so I took a quick work break. This is basically how I would do it. The pinkish squares are the color of the background, at 60% opacity, and the text color is a dark brown from the carving. The actual text location doesn't have to be where I put it, of course. Play around with it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:13 AM on August 21, 2013

Humboldt32 has it--lower the opacity. I'm not familiar with GIMP but in Photoshop, you would:
--Open the image
--Add a layer
--Fill the layer with white
--Play with the opacity of the white layer. Start with about 50% opacity and see if the text in black/dark brown works now.
posted by biscuits at 5:22 PM on August 21, 2013

Response by poster: Wow! Thanks a lot for all the suggestions, specially showbiz_liz for taking the time to come back and putting that example together.

I´ll try these ideas when I get back home today.
posted by Fermin at 3:18 AM on August 22, 2013

Response by poster: I got around to doing it. I just tried Matcha action´s solution and it looked just great for me.

Showbiz_liz´s draft looked a bit too stiff for this application (with the straight edges and so), but I really appreciate being taught how to do it because I will certainly use it in some other situation.

The others that required changes to the photo didn´t sound quite like what I wanted to achieve (I really like the photo as it is, so I would rather not edit it further), but thanks anyways.
posted by Fermin at 9:04 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

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