Design How-To: Using Ghosted Backgrounds

This story is taken from "Before & After" Magazine.

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This beautiful technique is unusually easy to design -- ghost and repeat a foreground image in the background. It's unusually effective, too; the subtle repetition adds surprising depth and, with photos, a storytelling dimension. Placing the ghost higher on the page than the foreground image reinforces our perception that it's in the back.


You can get excellent results by fading a full-color original, but the look we favor is to ghost a monochromatic copy. Save a copy in Photoshop as a Grayscale TIFF, then place into your page-layout or illustration program and fill with a faint color. Scale and send to the back.


Detail Fills a Page
Here a mere detail of the lavish initial has been cut and expanded to fill an entire cover. Be sure to ghost it sufficiently; full-strength usually makes a clash.


Pay Attention to the Center
Your reader won't be aware, but the three masks form a triangle at page center that balances the design and holds the focus where the reader's eye naturally falls. Decorative sawteeth define the asymmetrical column and resemble the mask in both form and color, drawing image and page into one -visual unit.


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