We have all heard the phrase a picture is worth a thousand words. So when it comes to getting your message across images should always reinforce what you are saying, not the other way around. When the image speaks for itself your message is much clearer. If the image speaks to loud your message may be lost.
When I wanted to create an coupon for a website I thought it should be direct and to the point. A thousand words later I put in an image of the catalog and the name of the store. With a few carefully selected words to describe the key benefits. There is a call to action and a most wanted response. A simple yet effective strategy to identify with the viewers and encourage them to do something. Then I applied the 5 C's of artistic quality to boost the value even more.
What are the 5 C's?
1. Color - does the color look right?
2. Contrast - do the black and white components vary over a wide range?
3. Clarity - is the image focused?
4. Composition - do the individual pieces of the picture fit well in the frame?
5. Continuity - does it flow well with it's surroundings?
These are usually yes and no questions. There are technical definitions for the 5 C's but typically they vary some with individual preference.
Color, Contrast, Clarity, Composition and Continuity.
- The colors must compliment each other well. Some colors are additive meaning if you mix them they will make a different color i.e. blue and green makes yellow. These are called complimentary colors. Contrasting colors would be cyan and magenta and are non-complimentary to yellow. If you want something to blend in you use a complimentary color. I you want something to stick out you use a contrasting color.
- Contrast is the level of black to white components. Even color images have a light to dark conponent. There should be a balance of light to dark areas in your picture. This determines the mood of a picture. You may have heard the terms "dark and moody" or "light and airy" used to describe a picture. Too little contrast and the picture looks washed out. Too much contrast and the picture is harsh. Either way the level and range of the contrast sets the mood of the image. For instance dark blue, red or purple set a different mood than lavender or pink yet the basic colors are the same.
- Clarity is the sharpness of the content. Out of focus images are not necessarily bad, but generally the sharper the focus the more clarity. You need to take in the whole content or frame. You may want something else to stick out beside your picture and just use it as a reinforcement. Suppose your message isn't real clear unless you spell it out literally. In this case you may want to soften your image and sharpen your text.
- Composition is the relative size of your frame, the shape it is in and the size of the objects in the frame. Where you want the focus to be in your frame is affected by the composition. In the coupon the forground is light and airy with bright colors and the background is dark. This technique puts the focus of the image in front. The text tends to be washed out a little but that is okay. Because I spell it out literally with a caption stating exactly what the image is.
Also notice the thick dashed border used to make the picture look like a coupon, which is desired effect. Another planned component is the hook. "Look for 10% off" is the hook so to speak it gives visitors the call to action. It is bold and highlighted with a complimentary color to make it stick out. This technique gives the call to action with a friendly likable feeling. And hopefully will trigger the most wanted response, a click on the links.
- Continuity means how well each component fits in with the context of the overall picture. The coupon in this example will be used on a herbal nutrition website with a bright and happy, earth tones look and feel. So visually it should fit in well. The image size and shape are similar to other components of the website so that it will not be jarring to the viewer when they happen upon it. Even the text font and size were matched to the locations that it will appear in.
To sum up when composing your art work ask yourself this question "does it pass the 5 C's"? If you answer no to any of them you will probably already know why. When you can answer yes to all the questions you know you have a well balanced picture worth a thousand words.
Hope This helps
To see how this coupon was used...