5 tips for pairing fonts with images in graphic design

One of the most fundamentally important skills in graphic design is being able to find the right combinations. If a graphic is to really stand out from the crowd, then the pairing of font and image is a crucial element and will ultimately be the difference between a good graphic and a great one. Within the marketing and advertising industry, pairing fonts with images is an age-old skill that all designers must take into consideration in their career. In this article, we will explore 5 things designers should consider in their journey to mastering this vital art.

Consider Context

Perhaps most crucially, designers must consider the context of the image, and be aware of how it is being used. Understanding the tone and mood of the image and its context will be an important factor when selecting an appropriate font to use. For example, if your image is serious, then it would make little sense using a jovial font such as Comic Sans. Equally, if your image is more modern and striking, then using a font that is bold, clean and legible would stand out better. Finding this perfect match can be a difficult challenge, but it is crucial to judge the mood of the content correctly in order to ascertain that perfect font to image combination.

Knowing what you want to accomplish

It is also vital to have a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve with the design. Images and fonts can have a significant impact in marketing and advertising if done well, and so keeping a clear grasp on your goals throughout the design process will prove essential. For instance, if you are looking for instant impact, a bold, colorful font might work best. If you are looking to shock people, creating an interesting juxtaposition between font and image might be the way forward. Understanding and empathizing with your target audience will be an important step to achieving the right pairing.

Make the text part of the image

In many of the best graphics, designers have ensured that the font feels like it is part of the image. This can be a difficult thing to craft, but if done correctly can make the package look professional and slick. Being able to immerse the text so that it overlays or merges with the image subject can add that extra element of innovation to the design and can often work well in corporate branding or designs that are aiming to be portrayed as classy and impactful.

Adhere to the visual flow

Being able to work around the image can be one of the most important tips for designers looking to find the perfect font and image combination. Ultimately, you need the words to fit logically into the image; you need them to look like they are meant to be where they are. For example, if you have an image with a subject on one side and a clear space on the other, this could be a prime opportunity to really nail the positioning of the font. You could even look for spaces to place the font where the subject of the image is facing, so it looks as though it is within their line of vision. Spatial awareness and acknowledgement of visual flow can be a smart skill to have as a graphic designer.

Ensure the font stands out

Legibility should be one of the core considerations here, as this is the reason for the text being paired with the image in the first place. As well as choosing the specific font to use, it is also important to know when or when not to alter the image or text to make it stand out further. For instance, if your image is busy and has a lot going on in it color-wise, it could make sense to lay a background behind the text to make it pop out at the viewer. Leading on from this, it is important to not overthink the situation. Some the best text-image pairings are those that are intrinsically simplistic in nature; that is, the text might be placed in the image background, so to look as though it really belongs there. There is a fine line between making something pop and taking it a step too far.

When looking to pair text with imagery, considering these steps can be helpful when stuck for how to progress your ideas. Simple typography and straightforward imagery is usually a winning combination, and being able to pay close attention to avoiding obstruction and confusion will be a key facet to consider throughout the process.

Stock photo via Dreamstime.com