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Image as background for forum/node, how do?


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I've really wanted to use an image as a background for my website's nodes (xenforo speak for forums.) I think when done right, they are gorgeous and very much add to the feel/atmosphere of a site. Many of you have gorgeous images representing your settings or forums. 

I've been tinkering with them as I have the Theme House add on, Nodes. The issue I am running into is this: node/forum font description color is white or light grey. It means I have to use some very dark images for it to not be too busy and allow the forum titles, icons and descriptions be visible. 

I've tinkered around with various photoshop actions, .psd's, lowering brightness, levels etc and can't for the life of me find something that works right with the theme. Should I stick with something that has a gradient or no color /matching node background for most of it and tuck a small image to the very right? (Iconish size?) Is there a way to darken and image to make font still readable but not ruin the image to be almost unseen? 

How do forum image formed? Tips? Tricks? Favorite tutorials? Actions? Advice? (You can visit my forum in sig. It feels wrong plugging it in the post when I already do via signature.)

^example of an image I tried using as our "Repository" (Knowledge base) forum/node background. My instant reaction to it was, "Thanks. I hate it." Even that was "too busy," for the text. 

Thank you and have a wonderful, stress free day! 

Edited by GreaterRealms
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