Be careful with your images

There’s an aspect of graphic design that can ruin an otherwise excellent layout: Imagery. And we’re not even talking about badly composed, poorly shot, or low-resolution pictures. Even the most wonderful photograph can ruin a layout if proportioned incorrectly.

Easy does it

Modern software makes it simple to resize an image, meaning it can be tempting to squeeze or stretch an image if it doesn’t quite fit as you hoped. But don’t yield to that temptation! A portrait image squeezed into a landscape space, or vice versa will end up looking decidedly dodgy – especially if people or well-known landmarks are involved.

Image of a person - proportioned correctly

Original image

Image of a person - distorted

Don’t stretch portrait images


London eye - original image

Original Image

London eye - image squashed

Don’t squash landscape images


Here are our tips when placing images…

Select carefully

Ideally, choose an image that exactly fits your layout without breaking any grids or guidelines. This means when searching for images you need to consider more than just the content, you need to make sure the proportions are ok as well

Crop it

If it needs to be cropped, ensure you’ve selected an image where doing so does not compromise the content. Sometimes cropping images can actually enhance a design, as it can focus in on one interesting aspect of the picture. But missing heads or other oddly cropped images will always look terrible.

Modify the design

If needed – and if you can do so without harming the balance of the page – alter the layout slightly to accommodate your picture choice

‘Photoshop’ it

If you have the software (and the skills) you may be able to ‘extend’ some aspect of the picture (e.g add more sky etc) so that the image fits the proportions of the space better. Be careful though, badly photoshopped images look really unprofessional

Abandon it

If none of the above works, then select a different image. You may think the one you’ve chosen is ‘perfect’ to use in your design, but if you need to distort it or crop it badly then it’s not and it’ll ruin your layout.

If you like these tips why not sign up to our Design Tips emails and get them sent straight to your inbox? And if you’re struggling with images in your layout then contact us and we’d be happy to advise.

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