Color Popping Against Achromatics

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I have always been a fan of layouts that use colors against a black, white, and sometimes even gray canvas.  The colors have always appeared more bold, more vivid. I decided to do a little research and found what could be some science behind my correct perceptions.

Achromatic colors are those that are unsaturated.  Pure achromatic colors are black, white, and true shades of gray.  Wikipedia says:

Black and white have long been known to combine well with almost any other colors; black increases the apparent saturation or brightness of colors paired with it, and white shows off all hues to equal effect.

Let’s take a look at some examples of one of my favorite design tricks…

I love how the journaling and title become the focal point of this layout through placement and also the color that helps frame them:

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I love how bright and bold these papers and elements look against the dark gray background. Even though the photos are black and white, they still stand out in the colors:

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The pinks, greens, and blues appear even more saturated against the white background paper.  The drop shadows also give the appearance that the flowers are growing right out of the frame and the butterflies just flew away:

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The biggest contrast between two colors is that of black against white.  With the juxtaposition of the colored elements around the photo, against the black and white, our eye is naturally drawn to the photo:

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Vibrant floral photos against a black background is one of my favorite layouts to create.  It just makes the flowers pop right off the page:

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I love how the blue and red pop against the gray in this layout by Tara.  The lighter journaling adds a nice contrast too:

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The colors just jump off the page in this layout with a white background. Add to it that the subject matter is Disney and it makes my heart go pitter-pat:

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I love the mood that is achieved in this layout with the contrast of black and white.  With the only color being in the photo, we are immediately drawn to the look on the little boys face that says he is indeed a “Force to be Reckoned With”:

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I love how the lego sailor is the focus of this layout and how bright that yellow becomes against the black background. Katrina’s photos are simply stunning and the journaling is such a sweet story too:

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The white journaling is a great contrast to the black background in Katie’s layout. The background also makes the flowers pop off the page with brightness:

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When I am having a hard time figuring out what color of background to use, I often reach for a black or white paper because I know the colors will always look great!