Grey on grey

There really are some shitty trends in graphic design. Grey on grey is one of these. In interface design particularly designing a series of icons with light grey on a dark grey background or vise versa really makes the icons hard to read. This is because you are reducing contrast. If you want to design for maximum clarity and readability you maximize contrast and the maximum contrast is black and white with no grey.

This becomes more critical when there are lots of icons because now the icons are going to be small, because of space constraints, and detailed, because you need many distinct symbols. Making them grey is the equivalent of trying to read in the dark. The problem with which is again minimized contrast.

And so it surprised me that I received specifications for digital artwork that required that all the ‘blacks’ be changed to dark grey because, “it is easier on the eyes.” What it is is a source of eye strain.

Making this more ridiculous is the simple fact that no monitor shows a perfect black or a perfect white anyway. So even if you spec #000000 and #ffffff the user never gets absolute black and white contrast regardless.

I wonder if the people making these decisions imagine that books would be easier on the eyes if they were printed with dark grey ink on light grey paper.

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I am an experienced freelance graphic artist and sometime canoeist. I feel strongly about the quality of professional work and like sitting by a remote lake on a sun-warmed rock.

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