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muddy drop shadow

Always be sure your text is easy to read

I have a friend that has been very vocal about hating text drop shadows. This totally confuses me since I use a lot of them. (Probably a little too much, to be honest.)

And then I received a business card that truly screamed at me about drop shadows. Yikes! There is almost no blend to the drop shadow and the color is nearly the same as the text. It looks like the text (the person’s name) was printed with thick ink and that got squished flat. You can kinda read the name, but it takes effort. 

Have you had an experience where the drop shadow that was used made it nearly impossible to read the text? Up until that point I had not. 

I can only assume that the person that created that card never looked at the design at 100 percent. Perhaps it looks fine when zoomed in on a computer screen before being printed. 

Drop shadows are, in my opinion, a great way to highlight text when you’re creating something with a background image under the text. It’s super easy for some of the text to get lost when the contrast goes too low, such as black text over dark shadows or white text over bright highlights. While it’s best to use a contrasting text color that’s not always possible when there’s lots of color in your image. Or it doesn’t fit your branding. 

The point of a drop shadow is to highlight the thing you’re creating, not be the focus. Let’s all remember that they don’t have to be black or gray. I use all kinds of colors in my drop shadows, and frequently in concert with other transparency effects, bevel and emboss being my favorite. 

So do yourself a favor… whenever designing something, take a step back and look at it at 100% with a critical eye to be sure all the design elements work together and the audience gets the point on first glance. If any of it is hard to read change it. Never make your audience work to read your stuff, because they won’t.