Often, I want to write text over a background image. If the background image is bright, I use a dark color for the text, and vice versa. But, often the image has both dark and bright parts. So a dark text is unreadable on the dark parts, and a bright text is unreadable on the bright parts.

I currently use one of several solutions, all of them are imperfect:

  1. Brighten the image and use a dark font, or darken the image and use a white font; the problem is that it reduces the beauty of the background image.
  2. Use grey text (as in this question: Is there a single text color that is acceptable on both dark and light background? ). But grey text often looks unappealing, and is still only barely readable.
  3. Use dark text, and try to position it on the bright spots of the image (or vice versa). This takes a lot of time because it requires me to position each word separately.

Are there better solutions to this problem?

In particular: is there an automatic tool that takes an image and a text, and positions the text only on the dark/bright parts of the image?

  • Does positioning words really take that long...?
    – Ryan
    Feb 12, 2014 at 19:50

2 Answers 2


Adding to GraphicsRPS's answer (definitely the best approach!), you can also try with some transparency.

For example:

enter image description here

Image Source


There is no tool to decide where text specifically goes according to the darkness or brightness of a photo. I would suggest either adding a subtle drop shadow to help separate the text slightly (only use this for headers/subheads). If that does not work, then try putting a stroke around your type to help differentiate it. Dark type on a light background, use a light stroke color and vice versa. Other than that, do what you have been trying by adjusting the image slightly. Being a designer takes years of experimenting, so try it out. Hope this helps.

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