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Drop shadow overload

April 5, 2012


Drop shadow overloadDrop shadow overload

It’s time for another pet peeve. Today’s post is all about pet peeve number two, overused and obnoxious drop shadows! Sure, drop shadows really make elements pop off the page. But are you overusing the drop shadow effect?

Where do you draw the line?

Example of what not to do

In this example, drop shadows are used to overcompensate for neglect of basic principles of design

Graphic design is nothing but a series of decisions. Design decisions should be made with the following things in mind, in order of priority and importance.

1. Does it contribute to the visual message?
2. Does it contribute to the visual appeal?

Number one is the end all, be all. Period. If it doesn’t contribute to the overall message you are trying to communicate, then it is nothing but an extraneous detail that is most likely better left undone.

Drop shadows have their place

Example of good drop shadow use

In this example, low opacity (about 10%) drop shadows are used to provide more contrast between the white of the image and background.

I have nothing against this effect. It has it’s purpose and I have even used it on occasion! But keep in mind, drop shadows are most effective when used sparingly and at low opacity settings to create a contrast between text or an object and the background.

Often times, I find there is something lacking from the overall design or messaging that provokes the overuse of this design element. So before resorting to drop shadows to overcompensate for something lacking in the design, take a step back and explore what is actually missing in your visual communications.

Always be aware of the design decisions you make and how they affect the overall message, look, and feel. By making small changes you can take your design from novice status to professional!

Learn to use drop shadows properly!

Similar to drop shadows, what other small changes can you make in your design that also produce a large impact?

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