While not a federal holiday, this national day of mourning on September 11 each year is obviously an important day of rememberance for the United States.
Whether your business overtly and publicly marks Patriot Day will be a personal decision. It may feel more natural for you to remember privately.
If you’d like your business to post an image marking this solemn day, I’ll share a simple technique for producing a composite from two images. This will be achieved by adding a background image and applying a second image over the top of it and reducing the opacity of the second image.
I’m using two free to use images from Pixabay. One of the Stars and Stripes from https://pixabay.com/en/american-flag-usa-united-states-839775/ and one of a Bald Eagle from https://pixabay.com/en/bald-eagles-bald-eagle-bird-of-prey-341898/. Obviously you can choose to use any two images that seem most fitting to you.
For this exercise I’ll be using the BeFunky Photo Editor web app. If you’ve an image editor installed on your computer or a preferred web app, feel free to translate the process to that. It’s quite easy with just a few simple steps.
Don’t, however, try this with Canva. While you can overlay an image on top of another and make it semi-transparent, as soon as you increase the size of the upper image so that it completely covers the lower image, the lower image is automatically deleted.
Upload the lower image
When you first open the BeFunky Photo Editor, you’ll see at the top center is an option to “Upload” an image.
Click that and in the drop down, click “Computer” and select the background image that you want to use.
Crop the image to size
Click the “Edit” button which is the second from top in the left hand column. From the new menu that opens, click the “Crop” entry.
That opens the “Crop Image” panel. I’m creating a graphic for use as a Facebook post, so I set the “Width” to 1200 pixels and the “Height” to 900 pixels. Click and drag the overlay that shows how the image will be cropped so that the image is centered as desired. When you’re happy, click the blue tick button to apply the crop.
If cropping the image to 1200 X 900 results in part of the subject breaking out of the new frame, crop the image to a larger size, but keeping the same 4:3 proportions. For example, you could crop an image to 1600 pixels by 1200 pixels and click the blue tick button. Then click on the “Resize” option, that is displayed below the “Crop” option, and set the size to 1200 X 900.
Add the second image layer
In the left hand column, click the “Layer Manager” icon that appears at the top and in the new panel, click the “Add Layer” button. As with the background image, select the image from your computer that you want to add.
Resize and change opacity
If the new image is smaller than the background image, click and drag the corner handles to resize the image. Ideally you should check that the second image is larger than 1200 pixels wide and 900 pixels high. If it’s a little smaller, you can probably increase the size a little without the quality degrading too obviously. Should the image be a lot smaller, check the result of resizing is acceptable. You may have to find a new larger sized image if the image degrades too much.
When the second image is selected, the “Layer Properties” panel is visible and you can adjust the “Opacity” of the new image layer. I set mine to 50, but you can set this to achieve the visual result you want. A setting of 50 should give equal prominence to both images, but you could use a different setting if you want to make one image more dominant than the other.
You may choose to skip this step and just leave your graphic as an image.
If you’re adding text, click the “A” icon in the left hand column and click the “Add Text” button.
This adds a text box to the graphic and you can type or paste in your own text.
I’ve chosen a Dan Rather quote that I find quite unsentimental but inspirational. As a non-American with no cultural references to Patriot Day, this may not be a good choice, so go with what you feel is right here if you’ve chosen to add text.
Style the text
In the “Text Properties” panel you can pick a “Font Family”. I picked “Norwester” as it’s a strong and clear upper case only font. You’ll probably want to choose something that’s quite bold, but feel free to experiment and try some different fonts. You can use the zoom control that appears below the image you’re working on to zoom out and see how a font works at smaller sizes.
Use the “Font Size” control to resize the text and you can manually add line breaks to your text with the return key if necessary. The text color defaulted to white for me and I left it set to that, though you can adjust it if it makes the text more clear. For example, if your composite images are very light, you might choose a darker text color.
The text outline color was set to black for me and this appears as if it’s a slightly soft shadow rather than a hard line. If you click on the swatch in the “Text Properties” panel, a “Color Picker” opens and you can adjust the color if you wish. I left the color set to black but reduced the “Intensity” to 24. This is dark enough to help the white text stand out without it being too obvious. Overly dark drop shadows are one of those design traits that tend to give away the amateur.
Finally you can see I added an acknowledgement to Dan Rather, using the same font style at a smaller size.
The end result
There you can see my final result with both the Stars and Stripes and the image of the Bald Eagle both clearly discernible from each other, while blending together at the same time.
Now you’ve seen how you can produce composite images, you can experiment to create other results. I suggested, you can make one of the images more dominant than the other to create alternative effects.
As always, when you finish creating a graphic, take a few moments to assess it and see if it all hangs together or if there’s anything that needs adjusting. As this isn’t a sales or marketing graphic, any checks are less rigorous, such as checking spelling.
You should also ensure that the standard of design is consistent with your brand values. This is, arguably, a graphic usage where aiming for consistency in branding isn’t one of your aims. Wrapping up a respectful mark of remembrance in your brand fonts, colors and assets might appear a little opportunistic to some. Whether you choose to integrate your brand is a decision only you can make.