create and grow happily

How to Create Seamless (Image + Text) Blog Graphics

Ever had that lowkey frustrating moment when you’re editing your blog graphics and you just feel like… they don’t fit at all??

I had that.

Booooy, I had my mini-explosions because I just had this gut feeling my graphic looked too messy and not cohesive at all but I don’t know where I was wrong. And I’d be like, “I followed the design principles, I got what the other people are trying to achieve with their graphics, why is mine still a freakin mess?!

Especially when you use a stock photo and layer a text (and some pretty shapes) on top of it? Oh boy, things could go from hmm-kay to aghhhhh-what-did-I-do-wrong.

So. If you have such struggles as I did before, allow me to impart some text-layering knowledge that I’ve learned over the years. (Wow, that made me sound like I’m some old hermit haha)

1 | Make Use of the Negative Space

Notice how some stock photos has this blank space (baaby, and I’ll write your—okay I’ll stop) that’s usually a solid color?

cutie work desk

Like this one. Don’t you love how spacey it is??? <3

That’s called negative space, the space in an image that’s “unmarked.” And I know that totally sounds like something from a YA urban fantasy book like, “Colton, you’re unmarked. It’s dangerous for you to be here.”

But anyway, negative space is basically the space that surrounds your subject/s. For example in the picture above, the white background where the clipboard, teacup and fab sticks are placed is the negative space.

Now in photography, having a lot of negative space supposedly makes an image look more balanced and have good composition. But we’re not talking photography here. We’re here for some basic photo-editing. And when you are layering a text on top of a photo, it’s good to take note and make use of its negative space.

Some styled stock photos even have that huge negative space included in their styling already. (via Google Images)

The awesome thing about solid-colored negative space is that text-layering is a piece o’ cake. All you have to do is… well add text on top of it and make sure that your texts don’t overlap the subject or the items in the photo. Keep your text readable and on the negative space.

Now, if it were me, I would use a font color that’s used in the subject. Like in the examples below where I used the eye-drop tool and use a purple and pink color that was used in the ball and pigment powder in the first picture and the flowers in the second one respectively. Then for the third picture I used a white font color so it would contrast to the dimmer blue tile background. It looks more cohesive that way, doesn’t it? 😀

2 | Use a Color Overlay

There are times when the text you’ll add is bigger than the negative space of the photo. Using a color overlay, or that faded color between the image and the text, is a failsafe way to make any graphics look consistent. This is actually what I do with my blog graphics.

What I love about using color overlays is you can use any image and add however long a text and you’ll be fine. An added bonus is that I can use whatever color I want for the overlay.

You could use a color overlay or a black or white one. I personally veer away from black, whether on overlays or font colors, because it looks pretty solid and, at times, moody which is not what my blog is all about. (ATT is neither moody nor solid hahaha)

Related: Choosing the Right Color Palette for Your Blog

But if that’s the look you’re going for, then by all means do so! Jordanna of and House of Muses makes black overlays work well in her blogs.

3 | Use Shapes under the Text

Now, this one, in my opinion, is the hardest of all three to get away with. But for some reason, it’s the kind that I see a lot in Pinterest. BUT using shapes to overlay only the text and a small space surrounding it has the ability to make your blog graphics look messy.

I actually started my blog graphics with this one. ‘Twas a time when I was arrogant and thought I’d look cool with awesome shapes and, like, five different font colors.

Folks, take it from me: simplicity is the better way to go.

Though, that doesn’t mean you can’t use shapes overlay on your blog graphics anymore. The Blog Market and Caitlin Bacher use shape overlay soooo good. I’m always at awe whenever I see how good they create their graphics. Here are some things I observed bloggers using shapes overlay do:

+ The shape overlay is proportional to the entire graphics. A general rule of thumb is to zoom in at 100% and see that the distance between the edge of your shape overlay and the longer side of your graphic (left or right if your graphic is vertical, and the top or bottom if you use horizontal one) is a wee bit longer than your thumbnail but won’t go beyond your thumb’s knuckle. (See what I did there? Rule of thumb, eyyy!)

+ The shape is big enough that there’s a lot of space surrounding the text. Say you used a square overlay. You don’t want to cramp your entire text inside your square. A better way is to use the same distance you use above. Otherwise, so long as there’s lots of space and your text won’t feel claustrophobic, it’s okay.

+ Make a highlighter effect as an alternative if you find that one-shape-for-entire-text thing difficult. College blog The Young Hopeful use this and one reason why their blog is super easy to find in Pinterest. Another awesome example is Cait of Paper Fury (my book blogger hero! <3) who also uses her own photos as the backgrounds of her graphics.

+ Utilize the opacity more. I swear, I see this in Pinterest a lot, although they’re usually old images that are still in circulation and their bloggers have long updated them already. The shape overlay is so translucent, I could hardly see it.

And that irritates me not only because I’m a visual person but also because I’m nearsighted and text clarity is important to me every-freakin-day. A 45 to 60 opacity is a good range to start.

Additional resources

Of course, this post is not your only source on how to create good blog graphics. I’ve listed a few articles I’ve read before on blog graphic-making and other related topics:

This post by the awesome Lauren of Elle & Co where she shares a few design pointers for eye-catching graphics.

This meaty one by Marianne of Design Your Own (Lovely) Blog where she guides you to a step-by-step, comprehensive guide to graphic-making, from which programs you can use to creating your own templates.

On that note! I wrote a post about choosing a font that will match your blog’s personality and listed 15 free fonts that are far more gorgeous than Curlz MT (Y’all remember that font? :D)

And if you’re looking for stock photos to use, I also wrote a list of places where I get free stock photos. I plan on updating that soon as I’ve seen more places now!

So! How do you create your blog graphics? Share your graphic-making process or other thoughts! And if you have  any questions or need help in making graphics, don’t hesitate on asking! 🙂

Happy blogging, awesome peeps!