The perfect marketing campaign, graphic, or logo makes a strong impact on your target audience, drawing attention and encouraging engagement with your brand. But, how do you create the perfect visual every time?
We know it can seem overwhelming to sift through information on color pairings, new typography styles, and the latest design trends. Fortunately, there is a classic theme you can always return to . . . black and white designs.
A black and white theme can be a fantastic alternative to color graphics. Timeless and practical, the black and white combination is also powerful. The high contrast between black and white can increase the impact of your graphic, and this color scheme tends to appear sophisticated and high-end.
Colors affect people in unique ways, and the black and white combination has certain meanings that may work perfectly for your brand. Are you ready to see just how beautiful and effective this color scheme can be? Take a look at the following black and white design ideas to find inspiration for your next project.
1. A Nod to Film Noir
Nothing engages an audience quite like a mystery. Draw your viewers into your website or graphic by using elements of the film noir style, as this graphic does. This particular example incorporates the noir color scheme and silhouettes sporting period styles. It immediately creates intrigue, a key element of a memorable graphic.
2. Strong, Creative Patterns
While there are many beautiful full-color patterns, using a black and white pattern instead will help your design stand out in the best way. You’ll convey elegance and sophistication, while the high contrast means your pattern can include detailed elements, such as hand-drawn illustrations.
3. Stunning Typography
When you’re considering black and white graphics, don’t forget about the impact you can make with the right typography. Because black and white contrast so strongly, using black text on a white background, or vice versa, draws even more attention to interesting and unique letterforms.
In this design, the lettering itself is so artistic that the piece doesn’t need any additional images. It’s the perfect way to make sure your audience understands and remembers your message.
4. Interesting Perspective
Your viewers see thousands of graphics where text moves linearly from left to right and graphic elements are confined to a vertical/horizontal plane. Change things up to make your design stand out from your competitors.
There are countless black and white design options that utilize a different perspective, including this one, showing how big of an effect perspective can have on simple numerals.
5. Make It Move
Take the change in perspective one step further and look for black and white design ideas that give the optical illusion of movement. These designs are naturally intriguing, and the feeling of movement captures the viewer’s gaze.
In this particular example, the black and white design on the concentric circles makes them appear to spin. Integrating one of these optical illusion black and white designs into your graphic can capture attention and make your image memorable.
6. Directional Contrast
One of the easiest ways to conjure up your black and white design idea? Don’t! In other words, why work so hard when Create, our online photo editing tool, has pre-made, easily customizable black and white templates at the ready?
Templates are accessible to everyone—whether novice or expert. Make swanky invites, posters, announcements, or RSVPs for an upcoming gathering. To get there, simply go to Create’s web page and type in “black and white.” Select your favorite, then click Edit to drop into the tool.
From there, adjust text, textures, effects, graphics, and whatever else suits you. Nice!
7. White and Black Space
A good graphic makes use of white space to draw attention to certain elements, frame text, and prevent a cluttered appearance, but white space doesn’t have to be white. This example utilizes both traditional and black “white space” for a high level of contrast and easy-to-read text. Plus, a silhouette tucked within? Sneaky and smart.
Create’s Textures tab in chock-full of white and off-white options. We suggest starting with the Stone category and building from there.
8. Negative Space
Embrace the negative space in your design for a fun result that encourages viewers to spend extra time studying your graphic. Clever black and white designs, like this one, convey ingenuity and playfulness, and are easier to scale than busy designs full of images, textures, and typography.
9. Bring on the Texture
Another way to set your graphic apart is with texture. Black and white or shades of gray are especially good for textured backgrounds because they’re subtle so they don’t overshadow your message.
Take this example, which uses a blurred, grayscale photo of feathers as a background. No part of it is distracting, but it creates an overall feeling of softness and tranquility.
10. Soft Watercolors
Not all black and white graphics are of the “big and bold” variety. Take a softer approach by embracing a watercolor style with shades of gray and flowing typography, like this example.
You still get the elegance and sophistication of black and white contrast, but this style is gently understated instead of in-your-face loud.
11. Geometric Shapes
Numerous black and white design ideas rely on geometric shapes. Why is this? The clean lines and sharp corners on these designs align perfectly with the strong black/white color contrast. Using a single shape or mixing a few geometric shapes together makes a vibrant, eye-catching design.
In Create, insert image fills into any aspect. Highlight a letter or graphic, then find the Fill with image icon from the top toolbar. Select a texture (we used Stone), then layer from there!
12. Strong Lines
If geometric shapes don’t feel exactly right for your project, what about lines and stripes? These offer a similar feel as geometric shapes: bold contrast and sharp lines. However, lines and stripes tend to feel slightly more serious and orderly than quirky shapes. Black and white stripes are also classic; they’ll never go out of style or look outdated.
To get this look in Create, highlight the background layer, then select one of the options from the Retro Patterns texture (in the Textures tab). For the brushstroke, click Graphics, type in “brushstroke” and select your favorite. Click Change color and select white.
Easy as pie!
13. Black and White in Many Ways
What better time than your wedding day to exercise the classic black and white design? Customize this template to insert your own personal pics. Also, in Create, there’s never just one way to make something black and white. Simply highlight the image, click Effects, then scroll to the Black and White section.
Find Black and White, Super B&W, Journo, and Silverscreen, then experiment with Intensity, Fade, and the like.
14. Sophisticated Illustrations
Black and white illustrations offer a beautiful alternative to photographic images and sharp typography. A simple color palette showcases the illustration’s details and can give the entire design a vintage or traditional feel, an interesting change from the ultra-modern theme of many black and white graphics.
15. Effective Imagery
Photographs can give your graphic a sense of reality, and can help reinforce your branding if you choose one that relates to your industry or company identity. You don’t have to stick with color images, however.
Using a black and white picture gives an entirely different feel to the piece, and can help your audience focus on the theme and message of the graphic rather than being distracted by the colors themselves.
16. Include Symmetry
Amp up the impact of contrasting black and white designs by embracing symmetry. In this piece, the clean white lines on a black background create a beautiful and symmetrical snowflake. The fluid white swirls are balanced by an underlying grid of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal intersecting lines.
The overall effect manages to feel both artistic and orderly at the same time.
17. Photo Collage Vibes
Use the color contrast to create lines that frame your content. Using a frame, grid, or collage helps viewers focus on each individual part of the graphic while also drawing these pieces together to form a cohesive whole.
To customize this look in Create, click File > Create new > Blank Canvas or Templates. Type “Collage” into the search bar, then select your favorite. We applied the Infrared Effect onto this one, which was originally in color.
18. Different Points of View
This stunning black and white piece combines several aspects to create an eye-catching final result.
Vertical text is a nice change from the typical horizontal writing, and this takes it a step further by using an unexpected bottom-to-top writing style. The slanted text and shadows create a three-dimensional effect, adding another layer of complexity to the overall design.
19. Minimalist Masterpiece
Going with a minimalist design can make a strong statement and prevent your message from getting lost or overshadowed by the graphic itself. Black and white already feel minimalist, and you can play up that theme even more by choosing a simple but evocative design, like this one.
20. Natural Textures
This gorgeous background uses black, white, and countless shades of gray in an abstract pattern to create a look reminiscent of natural marble. This nod to a strong and durable material links your brand with reliability and security. The curves naturally draw the viewer’s gaze around the image with the feeling of movement, giving you extra time to get your message across with your text.
In Create, click the Textures tab to find the Marbled Ink option. Click and drag to position as you see fit.
Black and white may seem simple, but just a few minor changes can create an image with three-dimensional depth. The broken or curving lines that create the effect form an interesting contrast to the linear, straightforward feeling of the black and white color scheme.
The simple colors give the illusion of depth even more impact, as there are no bright colors to distract the viewer.
22. Structured Lines
Reinforce your brand’s focus on technology or scientific pursuits with black and white graphics that resemble technical drawings, like this one. The simple lines appear orderly while the overall curve of the pattern gives some movement and depth to the design.
23. Maximum Contrast
Going with a minimalist style lets the contrast between black and white do all the work for you. You don’t need patterns, illusions, or fancy typography to make your message jump off the page. Keep the the overall design simple, as in these examples, and trust the sharp color contrast to make an impact on your audience.
Let simplistic designs maximize abstract concepts. Which side of this poster is empty, anyway?
24. Sheer Art
The whole point of creating physical representations of your brand’s identity, such as logos and slogans, is to help your target audience learn about and remember your company. The right black and white branding campaign can be extremely effective, especially when it’s a drastic change from the slew of brightly colored ads in the marketplace.
This design is versatile. It can be used as frame-worthy home decor or the consistent background for multiple designs. Add text, graphics, and subtle nuances for each social post, poster, or invite.
25. Mixed Shapes and Patterns
On the other end of the spectrum from minimalist black and white options are bold graphics that mix and match shapes and patterns. These loud designs seem to jump off the page, and they can work well to convey a strong, outside-the-box message.
In Create, achieve this effect by uploading textured images or using the Images tab to find one. Once it’s on the canvas, click it and drag-and-drop to the upper-left corner. Do the same repeatedly until the whole canvas is filled.
Why should you go with black and white designs? For one thing, it can help your customers focus on the true nature and superiority of your products or brand rather than highlighting secondary aspects that color-based advertising typically promotes.
In fact, a study in the Journal of Consumer Research indicates that black and white advertising can help consumers make smarter purchasing decisions by drawing attention to the underlying quality and primary features of a product. When you want your ad or logo to illuminate your brand’s core message or set your product apart from low-quality competitors with flashy style, a black and white design is ideal.
Build your black and white design with Shutterstock Create fast. Choose a classic black and white image from within Create’s stock photos, or download one from the Shutterstock library straight into the tool.
Then customize with text, shapes, effects, textures, and more. It’s an easy-to-use yet powerful design tool that helps you quickly make creative solutions for your brand. Good luck!
License this cover mockup image via Rinat Khairitdinov and N1chEZ.