I frequently have to place objects and text on photo backgrounds and some backgrounds make it hard to see the objects.

To get good contrast I will try to pick a background image that has large flat areas to place text and objects.

If that is not available I may try to put colored shapes behind the objects, dark for light text and vice versa.

Additionally I may try drop shadows or glow to set them off, but this is not always an option either.

In this case I have multi colored logos on a green and blue plant background that is busy.

I would like to avoid putting a shape between the objects and the background as it will cover the background.

They are currently shown with a white drop shadow. Two on bottom have a black drop shadow.

enter image description here

Any advice is appreciated.

Here are objects and foreground:

enter image description here enter image description here

  • 1
    What's the overall goal of the image? In other words, why must there be a busy background? And is editing the background, such as a blur, or gradient overlay, not a possibility?
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 23:36
  • The goal is a marketing piece (a trade show banner). There does not have to be a busy image. A "Field of Flowers" was requested. I'd like to use this photo and I'd like to use any busy photo and be able to place things where I want despite whats in the background.
    – Webster
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 23:39
  • Can you supply the flower photo as one image and all the logos on a transparent background as a second image? Would be a lot easier to answer that way.
    – Ryan
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 13:07
  • 1
    Beyond the immediate digital solution I would look at fine art for interest on the subject. I went to a fine art college then uni where we were still painting and drawing in year 4 of a graphics degree. From Piero della Francesca to Turner to Monet they all understood how to position items in a painting for priority and depth of field using various techniques. For example, with an abstract backdrop the eye will be drawn to anything sharp - your text / icons. Warm colours tend to come forward and cool colours recede. Proven techniques, remain valid. Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 8:08

1 Answer 1


There are a ton of possibilities, all of which depend upon the actual content.

A dark gradient...

enter image description here

A light gradient....

enter image description here

Blur and adjust levels .....

enter image description here

Probably my favorite technique... a band of offsetting color with a mask to promote depth....

enter image description here

Or lower the opacity of the color bar... to make it even more dynamic overall...

enter image description here

I, personally, dislike using things like drop shadows and glows when possible. They have become too "canned" and pedestrian in many areas such as this.

  • My favorite technique at least in InDesign has always been an outer glow. I'm surprised you don't mention that—or is it not possible in Illustrator?
    – Wildcard
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 1:35
  • By glow I meant outer glow. A nice hazy but bright outline can help offset the foreground. When you use a contrasting color for drop shadow it has a similar effect. Also just a solid stroke around objects can help them stand out.
    – Webster
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 2:53
  • 2
    As posted in the answer.. I'm not a fan of glows and shadows to push contrast. I'm not saying they won't work.. just not my go to method ever.
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 4:18

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