Placement: Some color images do contain open spaces where a haiku might be placed, although a caution is that the image-maker will often feel that the unused space is important for his/her composition. In the image below, where are the open spaces (fields without too much image detail in them and that are composed of similar colors and tones)?
In the image above, there are three spaces that are sufficiently of uniform color and tonality to consider for text placement: 1) in the sky upper left, 2) lower right on the beach in front of the walker, 3) middle right on the dark cliffs.
12. Font type, size & color: One font type/size/color choice that is often exercised by haiga designers is to use a boxy font with a primary or secondary (pure) color (red, green, blue, yellow, violet, orange) or white or black. A primary color like yellow might be tempting, for example, because it will make the text stand out well.
Consider the example below. It’s easy to read the text because primary color creates a strong contrast, making the text stand out from the muted colors in the image. The bold, boxy font adds to the degree of the contrast – the amount that the text stands out. But it's difficult to look at this image without the red text commanding more attention than the key elements composing the image. Look at the figure or the lighthouse and you'll see that your eye is oriented up to the left where the red, bold font resides.
Of course, the color can be muted and made to match the colors in the sunset as shown below, which I think works better. The remaining problem is whether the boxy font is best to represent the haiku?
The following two treatments place the text in the other two less busy spaces, right lower and right middle. Both use one of my favourite 'haiku compatible' fonts, Samuel. Both are in yellow, making them stand out from the background. But I think that the yellow text is too strong—you might argue that it's a bit like the lighthouse, but it also diminishes the lighthouse which isn't nearly so bright. So I see both as not working as well as something else might when text is placed in those two positions.
What if we make the font color more like the colors where the text is placed. In this next treatment, the muted blue color was taken from the ripples on the shore and the intensity (tone) is close to the maximum intensity of other portions of the image – the sky, the sea, the seashore. Does it work better? Is it too bright? If it was less bright, would it still be readable?
The next version (below) uses the same font as above (Festus). In the image above, I used the color tones of the beach and water so that the text would better blend with the image. In the image below, the color is a muted pink taken from the sunset colors in the image. What about the size, tone, color of the image below. Of the two, which works best? Should I try a better color, tone, size in the space on the cliff below the lighthouse?
And that’s the point—it’s all about choices. In this essay, I’ve tried to expand the haiga artist/poet’s range of choices. On the next page, we'll examine the choices that some other haiga artists make so that you don't leave this presentation with the idea that I'm suggesting there's a one best way to do it.
Of course, if after having selected the best placement, font type, color, tone and size, you still feel that there is too much interference with the image itself, you can always create a larger frame and place the haiku and credits there.