Light or dark design - it matters if you're trying to be Bruce Wayne or Batman.

No comic book character embodies darkness and light as completely as our favorite Dark Knight, Batman, and his daytime alter ego, Bruce Wayne.

What stands out more: light or dark design? Consider this: in Reykjavik, Iceland, there are days when the sun shines for nearly 22 hours and days when darkness lasts 20 hours. But unless you grew up there, or in another city far north or south of the equator, you are accustomed to substantial periods of darkness and light alternating daily throughout the year. Here in Philadelphia, for example, the range is 9-15 hours of light and 9-15 hours of darkness.

We humans stay in tune with nature’s dimmer switch because we are born with an internal clock synchronized to the circadian rhythm of day and night. Located in our brain’s hypothalamus and pineal gland, the clock receives signals from photoreceptors in the eye’s retina. It responds by secreting the hormone melatonin, more of it at night to help us sleep and less of it in daylight when we need to be active.

Clearly, we are biologically predisposed to feel that alternating light and dark is natural and pleasurable.

An example of light or dark design: flipping between the two.It is unlikely that readers paging through a magazine are conscious of the light-dark-light rhythm of the layout, but we’d like to think they feel the difference between light or dark design. In the example shown at right, you can see for yourself the effect of alternating darkness and light on two-page spreads we designed for the Drexel University College of Medicine Alumni Magazine.

So what’s the takeaway we’d like to leave you with when talking about light or dark design?

DO take advantage of the fact that visual art is felt as well as seen and be conscious of the feelings you want to evoke.

DON’T waste the opportunity to keep readers engaged by using degrees of lightness and darkness to change up the mood from one article to the next.

DO make the interplay of light and dark as much a part of your design palette as the colors you choose.

(Want to feel the light, boost your mood and get yourself moving? Watch this clip of Bruce Springsteen singing “This Little Light of Mine,” live in Dublin.)

Need help designing your social media pages, website or brochure? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].

 

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