How To Use An Image As A Background Behind A Story

Have you ever wanted to spice up a feature story with a background behind the text that was related to the content of the story it contained? Let’s say you wanted to put an image of apples behind a story that was about apples. If you simply put that image behind the text, the text would be illegible. One solution is to screen back a box behind the text. It’s easy to accomplish in QuarkXPress 7, and I’ll also explain how to do it in earlier versions of QuarkXPress.

The first thing you need to do is place an image on the page that you would like to use behind a story. Try to be creative, like placing money behind a story about budgets and finance, or maybe a lake behind a story about water conservation. The bigger and clearer an image is, the easier it will be for your reader to recognize what the image is.

The next step is to create a picture box over the background image. Then fill its background with white by using the color palette, or from the Measurements palette in QuarkXPress 7. Leave a little room around all four edges for an inside margin. Everything outside of this box will print at 100% opacity, while everything that falls behind this box will print at a lower opacity. This just means that the image will appear lighter behind the box so that the text will be readable.

If you are concerned about having equal spacing around the edges of the inside box and the picture box, I recommend using guides to create a margin, then snapping the edges of the second picture box to them. Just drag guides onto the page from the rulers at the top and left of your document window.

How To Use An Image As A Background Behind A Story

Snap the edges of your white picture box to the margin you just created.

An even faster way to center the second box either horizontally, vertically or both is to use Quark’s Space/Align feature. (Item> Space/Align or from the Measurements palette in QuarkXPress 7)

A hidden shortcut to clear guides from your page is to Alt (Mac: Option) click your horizontal and your vertical rulers. You may notice that this does not always work – it depends on how you are viewing your document. If you can see the top of your pasteboard, then only the guides on the pasteboard above your page will be deleted. Same thing for vertical guides when you can see the left side of your pasteboard. To clear guides that are on a page, you need to zoom in so that you can’t see the pasteboard area. Then press Alt (Mac: Option) and click your horizontal and vertical rulers to clear the guides.

How To Use An Image As A Background Behind A Story

This is what the image should look like after it is aligned to the guides, and the guides are cleared.

Now that your two picture boxes are aligned, you can change the opacity of the white picture box so that you will be able to see the image below it. With the white picture box on top selected, lower your opacity to 70% so that you can see through the picture box to the image behind it. It is a good idea to experiment slowly using these opacity tricks, to get a feel for how light or how dark your printer will reproduce this effect. I recommend testing this at 80% first on smaller objects to see how light it actually prints. Just like placing color behind text, it is a good rule of thumb to shade the color to 20% behind text to see how it will reproduce first. In my opinion, a background that’s a little too light is always better than not being able to read the text.

Now create a text box over this box and insert your text.

How To Use An Image As A Background Behind A Story

This is what the effect should look like.

Now that QuarkXPress 7 supports opacity you should really start to think out of the box about the new effects you can create directly in QuarkXPress, that in earlier versions of QuarkXPress required using Photoshop. For example, create a slightly 3-D effect by adding a drop shadow to the translucent box.

How To Use An Image As A Background Behind A Story

Here is the same effect using a black box and white text.For those of you using earlier versions of Quark, you can use Photoshop to get the same effect. Place the image in QuarkXPress, then open a copy of the image in Photoshop. In Photoshop, double-click the background layer to unlock it. Then use your Opacity slider to lower the opacity by 20%. If you are having trouble seeing how this looks in Photoshop because of the transparency grid, make a new layer and fill it with white, then drag that layer below the image layer. Save the final image.

How To Use An Image As A Background Behind A Story

This is how the Photoshop document and Layers palette should look.
Now go back into Quark. Use the Item tool to select the picture box that you already placed on the page. What you’re going to do is import the new lighter image into a box on top of this picture box. The trick is getting it to align with the image below it. (In QuarkXPress 7 when you import an image into a box that previously had an image in it, you have the option to Maintain Picture Attributes. This means it will be imported with the same scaling percentage and position as the original image.)

How To Use An Image As A Background Behind A Story

The tremendously useful Maintain Picture Attributes in the Import Picture dialog box.
In earlier versions of QuarkXPress, you will need to record the image percentage, rotation, and X and Y values of its location, to use after you import the new image.

How To Use An Image As A Background Behind A Story

This is the information you will need to record.

Now copy the picture box. If your version of QuarkXPress has Edit> Paste in Place, then use that. If not, choose Item> Step and Repeat and use 0 for your Horizontal and Vertical Offset. This will place a duplicate of the picture box at exactly the same location, on top of the original picture box. Now import the new image into this box, and type in the values you recorded from the Measurement palette. The image should appear in the same place as the one sitting behind it. To crop the new image, drag in the side points all around the image, revealing the image below. And there you have it! You’ve got an image you can place text over!

How To Use An Image As A Background Behind A Story

This same trick using Photoshop for earlier versions of Quark.