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Successful document and banner design tends to adhere to a set of basic design principles. Knowing these principles is the key to creating designs that are successful, and can also help you when you hit a creative wall.

It’s  important to keep these principles in mind when working with backgrounds. A good background design provides the canvas for the rest of the work. It has the potential to highlight important information, set the mood, and help the color palette really pop.

Check out the tips below to set your work up with the best background design possible.

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Background design basics

A good background can surround, support, and emphasize the information you wish to present. A poorly chosen background can overwhelm the rest of the design, making the other elements difficult to see, or make the other elements feel untethered and unrelated.

Just because a background should be unobtrusive does not mean it has to be bland or boring. Rich, vibrant colors can often make the best background design, especially when used strategically in brochures and other print media. The human eye is naturally drawn to bright, colorful things and this can be used to your advantage.

best background design
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The psychology of color

Colors have a powerful psychological aspect that makes them potent design elements. Warm, cool, and neutral colors all have associations that you should know about and some of them even affect our moods:

  • Warm colors like red are vibrant, uplifting, energizing, and stimulating. Using these colors is a great way to draw the eye to key design elements, such as a company’s name. When used as a background the energetic, positive feelings associated with this color suffuse the entire design.
  • Cool colors – including most shades of blue, purple, and green – have soothing, relaxing, and calm associations. Dark blues in particular can suggest formality and dignity; some shades of dark blue can even do double-duty as a neutral shade.
  • Neutrals like white, beige, taupe, tan, black, and some browns have a clean, simple, and even refreshing feeling. They are used to add warmth, light, or gravity to other colors.
good background design
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Basic background types

Generally speaking, a designer can choose a background that is a solid or slightly gradient color, an illustration, a photo, video still, a subtle pattern, or a bold pattern. If you wish to use a pattern, select a background with 2 – 4 dominant colors. Patterned backgrounds with too many colors can look cluttered and distracting. A blank white background can also be used, but be sure there’s a reason for it. White can easily come across as boring.

If you search through Shutterstock’s enormous library of images, you will find many illustrations and photos that would make ideal backgrounds for many different design projects. If you use these images in our online Editor you can adjust the appearance of the background image so that other design elements, such as text, stand out clearly. Try a few different background options and see how they impact the rest of the design. You will see how some colors, patterns, shapes, and styles transform the overall canvas.

Top Image by virtu studio