How to use transparent effects in your designs

design transparency

A gentle application of transparency to your images is a clever way to create beautiful designs.

Whether applied to a photograph used as a background, or to shape and text to form a layered effect—this tool is a powerful and popular part of the web and print design process.

Here we show you some brilliant, yet simple, ways to apply transparency to your designs.

01. Create clear copy space

Using a transparent background helps with text legibility.

transform designs transparency

Let your background determine your copy area by choosing an image with negative space.

This is a great opportunity to use the combination of a grayscale image and colored type for a heightened graphic effect.

There are many photos have have a natural space for your copy. Check out these templates that use this design technique: Orange Photos Food Poster and Beige Photo Anti-bullying Poster.

02. Achieve an epic overlay effect

In a modern and stylistic approach to design, try using transparent shapes to create an ‘overlay’ effect.

transform designs transparency

Shapes are a great way to contain your copy. Make sure you choose a contrasting color for your text to ensure it can be easily read.

Utilize the colors in your images by replicating them in your overlay shapes. If you’re using an image as your background, choose one with less detail so your design isn’t too busy.

Placing a shape over your background image and lowering the transparency creates a fantastic. Try the Pink and Green Photo May Birthday Instagram Post template.

03. Watermark your images

Watermark your images and graphics to keep your content copyrighted. This is one of the most important tips for pro branding.

transform designs transparency

Upload either a png or a jpg of your brand logo into your Canva library to use on your graphics. You can brand your work by placing your logo on your designs and applying a subtle transparency.

Watermarking is essential when providing proofs or draft copies to clients to protect your intellectual property.

This simple but classic trick that helps keep your brand in the forefront. See it applied on the Ocean Waves Instagram Post template and the Ocean Adventure Instagram Post template.

04. Use transparent layers to enhance your designs

Layering transparent elements is a functional tool to help contain the copy, to section your composition, and to apply an artistic flair to your design.

transform designs transparency

Use a color for your shape from within your graphic to maintain tonal harmony. Download the Google Chrome Eyedropper for better tonal pickings.

Layer your shapes according to a common element in your design—like a horizon line.

Create interesting textures with shapes layered on top of each other, varying their colors and transparency. This technique is in play with the Rustic French Press Poster template and the Blue Pink Photo International Women's Day Poster template.

05. Get creative with transparent type

Find context for your content! Apply your graphic elements using effects that resonate with your subject matter.

transform designs transparency

If using text on top of a textured background, allow the background to peek through by adding some transparency to your type.

Create order to the way your design is read. Apply typographic hierarchy by increasing the transparency on the secondary text.

Backgrounds and images aren't the one design elements that can work with lowered transparency. Try using it with fonts too, like with the White and Black Text Research Poster and the Red Crowd Minimal Music Festival Poster templates.

Designed any cool graphics lately using transparency? Share them for the world to see by posting on Twitter with the hashtag #trickytransparency. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Your secret weapon for stunning design