Tips for Choosing Consistent Images for Your Designs

One of the fundamental elements of graphic design is consistency. No matter what article, design book, workshop or video you watch; you’ll see a section on the importance of consistency in your designs. If the topic of design consistency is completely new to you, allow me to give you a quick break down of why consistency is so important. The short and sweet answer to the question of, “Why is consistency in graphic design so important?” Is very simple. Without consistent elements in your designs, viewers will find it difficult to understand your overall message. If viewers don’t understand your message, there isn’t much of a point in making the project. I can’t provide every suggestion that’s ever been made on consistency, but I can give you a few to make sure that the images included in your designs are headed in the right direction.

Understand The Goal Of Your Project

For some of you, this might go without saying, but seriously understand the goals of your project. You can’t begin to work towards consistency if you have no idea what your project should accomplish. Is this a poster for an upcoming concert? How about a flyer for the PTA Bake Sale at an elementary school? Those two projects have very different goals. The photos you select to include should reflect the goals of your project. If those goals aren’t clearly defined at the start of your workflow, you’re setting yourself up for a design disaster. You can’t create consistency when you have no idea what consistency should look like for your project.

Select Photos That Work Well With The Color Scheme Of Your Project

After clearly defining the project goals, you’ll want to select your color scheme. If you’re using bright colors, add photos that work with those colors. You can select complementary colors, or you can use colors that appear on the opposite side of the color wheel. If you need more information on color matching and theory you can read An Introduction To Graphic Design: The Psychology of Color to learn more.

color scheme

Choose Photos That Are Appropriate For Your Design Topic

If you’re designing a brochure for a dental client you should select photos that reflect dentistry. This isn’t the place to insert photos of your favorite college football team or a cute internet cat. If you focus on selecting photos that are appropriate for the project that you’re working on, the consistency will come naturally. A common reason for photo and project inconsistency is jumping around from topic to topic arbitrarily tossing in whatever photo you can get your hands on. Including random pictures leads the viewer away from your topic and creates a stressful viewing experience.

Select Photos That Work Well Together And Share Similar Properties

Once you’ve identified the photos that match your design topic, further narrow your selection to the pictures that share similar visual traits. You don’t need to use identical photos, but the viewer should see a clear pattern in your photo choice. This pattern could be showcasing the same colors in all the photos or the same location and background settings. The elements that you choose to keep consistent throughout the included photos in your project are left up to your creativity. The most important thing to remember is that the viewer should be able to see a clear connection between each photo selected for the project.

Focus On The Next Actions Or Final Outcome Of The Project

There are several elements that contribute to project consistency, but the single most important thing you can do to make your project consistent is having clear and defined next actions. Next actions are simply what you want the viewer to do immediately after seeing your design. Do you want them to purchase a product? How about taking an action on a social media post? In order to select photos that work to create consistency, you have to know what the next actions are and what a viewer must see, feel or believe in order to take that action. Knowing the desired outcome of a project allows you to choose photography that will guide the viewer to take that next step and complete the requested action. The greater the task, the more emotion you need to evoke from your viewer.


People need to feel strongly about a topic in order to take the next steps. Think about the last advertising campaign you saw. Was it effective? Did it lead you to take the next steps? If it was effective, what portion of the ad persuaded you to take the next steps? If it wasn’t effective, what could have been done differently to create a bigger impact on you? These are the questions you should be asking yourself when you’re working on consistency in your designs. Strong emotions begin with strength in the consistency of your designs.