Contrast Is the Key to Outstanding Billboard Design

Contrast is one of the most crucial design elements on a billboard. If colors are muted, lack contrast, or conflict with each other, an advertiser’s message will be difficult to read.

Color contrast is defined as the degree of difference in color hues. Whereas tonal contrast is defined as the difference between the lightest and darkest tones in an image. A billboard design with both types of contrast will have the best results. Color contrast can sometimes be found between colors on the opposite sides of a color wheel such as yellow and blue. However, there are some exceptions, colors such as red and green should not be laid on top of each other due to their similar value. Tonal contrast is found in colors that are lighter and darker, for example, white has the lightest tone, on red, which has a darker tone.

How can you test if your designs are high contrast enough? Here are two ideas:  photocopy the color layout in black and white. If the colors separate well in black and white, the pairing will work for outdoor designs. Or, check your colors with the contrast pairings, found on the Meadow website. The first is a chart of the highest contrast color combinations in descending order.  The second is a quadrant showing the extremes of high and low contrast.

14 square quadrant examples of high color contrastFour square quadrant with examples of high and low contrast colorsLooking at good examples of high-contrast designs can demonstrate the value of god contrast.  Here are a few we’ve installed on our billboards in the last few months! These photos from billboards in Idaho and Oregon, prove the effectiveness of contrast with both visuals and text. See if you can pick out which color schemes correlate to the ones on our cheat sheet - there are often multiple pairings per billboard. We like to practice what we preach about contrast!

Collage of high contrast artwork on Meadow Outdoor BillboardsIf you want us to help you create a highly visible, contrasting design on one of our billboards, just call us and we’d be happy to help!

If you are interested in advertising on one of our billboards call us at 800-221-4114 or email us at!