We may not even be aware of it, but illustrations change the appearance of the world we live in. Illustrations have a great impact on our visual culture, represent a way of expression, and are becoming the voice of many companies. The term illustrations encompasses all images that interpret, explain or accompany the text, or independently comment on the subject matter. These includes drawings that make your website more user-friendly, fictional characters that adorn a variety of packaging, mascots that represent your business, or stickers that adorn your office walls. Of course, there are many other illustration options. If you know how to package illustrations into the narrative of your business, they can become a voice that will reach far and wide.
Where can we find illustrations?
Throughout history, illustrations have evolved from cave paintings to the invention of printing in the 15th century, when hand-painted ornaments were replaced by woodcuts. However, printing was still expensive, as was paper. The golden age of illustrations therefore came at the end of the 19th century, with the ascension of books, magazines and newspapers. In these times, when photography was just evolving, illustrators were highly regarded. With the development of colour photography, however, the situation changed. When photography made its way into magazines and books, illustrators were somewhat supplanted. But never completely replaced. Illustrations remain with us despite digitalisation. We need it all the more, as it brings unique cartoon images into our digital worlds, imbued with photos and videos.
- From books to magazines and newspapersThe most traditional – yet still current – role of illustration is certainly in publishing. Are we even aware that it was illustrators who introduced us to the images of fairy-tale heroes in our childhood? When we mention Little Red Riding Hood, surely we all remember an image that is exactly as it was in our childhood picture book. Illustrations are part of our culture and part of every individual and their imagination.
- Printing on productsFloral patterns on T-shirts, painted tea cups, cartoon characters on baby bedding, women’s bags, wallpapers, funny socks… – all these represent opportunities for an illustrator. Many people never consider how these things were made. And yes, illustrations can be bought online. And yet, at some point, someone had to create them.
- PackagingConsciously or unconsciously, attractive packaging often tempts us to buy the product.
- Websites and social networksAs already mentioned, an illustration can become the voice of your brand. It can be what sets you apart from others, as it evokes emotions your customers associate with. Your website will look much more enjoyable and personal with illustrations. If you use illustrations consistently on all other channels as well, they will tell the narrative about you and your brand at every turn.
- AdvertisingOnce an illustration is part of your design, it will surely find its place in advertising as well. It can be found in both digital and printed ads, and can also be upgraded with an animation to properly compete with video ads.
- Concept artAnd speaking of motion… Have you ever wondered how cartoons, animated and fantasy films and computer games depicting fictional characters and worlds are made? These are worlds that do not yet exist. Someone has to design them, develop the image of the world that will support the narrative, and shape the image of the characters to suit their role and character. This, too, can be the work of illustrators. If the film is successful, such images can remain part of popular culture forever.
How to choose a suitable illustration style?
Think about what your communication tone is or will be, and what illustration style can best support it. It is also important to know where you will use the illustrations. The illustration technique and format depend on this.
These are traditional drawings or paintings on paper. Be it acrylic, watercolour, gouache or pastel, all of them are a slow process, and at the end, the illustrations need to be scanned and transferred to a computer. Subsequent editing and design are done digitally. You should keep in mind that, in this case, we are limited by the quality and size of the scan. The format generated is a raster image that does not allow enlargements. Such illustrations can therefore be great for books, packaging and other smaller prints. They can be of exceptional quality, refined, with great detail, and high artistic value. However, they should be avoided when working with graphics of larger dimensions.
Digital raster illustration
It is very similar in digital raster illustration, except that here we are limited by the size and quality at the start, when setting up the image in the programme. Today, many illustrators create their illustrations on graphic tablets and draw using various programmes and applications (Photoshop, Procreate), instead of canvas or paper. The creative process is, of course, much faster than with the traditional technique. It is easier to experiment, as we can restore a previous state or simply remove a layer that we are not satisfied with. Brushes are selected in the programme, thus achieving an effect that is very similar to illustrations painted on paper.
Digital vector illustration
However, one of the most popular techniques today is undoubtedly vector illustration. It is recognisable due to its simpler and simplified shapes. Such illustrations have less detail and textures. They are flatter, maybe a little more business-like and consequently a little less personal. Of course, this is not true for all such illustrations, as there are also some excellent exceptions. Nevertheless, for several years now, we have been observing a trend of very similar illustrations. But there is an important reason for the popularity of this technique. It is based on vectors, meaning that illustrations can be enlarged without any loss of quality. Another advantage is their much faster production. Such illustrations are best suited for online use, and can easily be modified with simple animations.
So you want to build your brand image with illustrations?
Then you probably already know that an illustration is the thing that can establish a more genuine and personal relationship with your customers. Let us see how you can use it in your business:
- Logo and other elements of corporate identity
If you are still in the early stages of building a corporate identity, you may want to consider whether it would make sense to incorporate a character into your logo to represent your business. It could be some fictional character, or maybe just some illustrated element or pattern that will later appear on all of your prints.
- A mascot to represent your brand
If you already have a chosen logo or you want your logo it to be as minimalist as possible, you can add a bit of life and warmth to your brand by developing a mascot. You can also create several different characters that then appear on all of your graphics and products. With such characters, your customers will get to know your business and recognise your values, as well as the value of your products.
When a visitor enters a website, we only have a few seconds to convince them and keep them on the page. Use illustrations to guide the user through your content in a pleasant and interesting manner. You can complement your blog with drawings that will further explain the content. Include your recognisable characters, which we already mentioned, as the main motifs of illustrations and thus develop the narrative. They should guide the viewer through the page, exactly as you imagined. All those little details are also important to bring the page truly to life. For example, many companies decide to buy icons online, but no one can guarantee that such icons will not be used on some other site. So invest a little more time in making your own illustrated icons that will be specific to your brand, and therefore all the more recognisable and interesting. And don’t forget… you can imbue all these illustrations and graphics with even more life by upgrading them with animations.
Why not present complex information in a friendly, understandable way, and simultaneously build your identity even when presenting more complex content? People no longer read long texts. Our impatience requires clear and interestingly presented data that can be read in the shortest possible time. This is where infographics come in. And if you are already communicating with illustrations everywhere, introduce them here as well. Explain those complicated numbers with a drawing, and you will reach many more potential customers than you would with plain text.
- Social media posts
Maintain your established tone of communication everywhere, even on social media. Posts with your unique illustrations will be much more recognisable than traditional posts with photos and graphics aligned with your corporate identity. Show some character to make it easier for people to feel and connect with you. An additional positive feature of illustrations (especially those in the style of cartoons) is that we immediately associate them with childhood, thus remembering pleasant emotions.
Let us start with the business card – the basis necessity for every businessman. Sometimes it seems completely unnecessary to make such a fuss about this small piece of paper, as we are only interested in the information it holds. But it is our reflection. If you are meeting someone for the first time, a creatively illustrated business card can be that small detail that will remind them of you and further confirm your professionalism. Especially if you also work in a creative industry. Don’t forget the various thank you cards, brochures, catalogues, folders and much more. All of these are opportunities for you to build your visibility with your own illustrations. Even the smallest detail, such as an illustrated thank you card when ordering a product, can greatly brighten someone’s day and ensure another loyal customer.
- Packaging that stands out of the shelves
Elaborate packaging with unique illustrations will certainly stand out among other products and draw the attention of customers. Especially if you have already develop a high-quality brand identity with such illustrations.
- Promotional material
This includes leaflets, booklets, pendants, bags…
- Explainer video
As we have already mentioned, you can animate illustrations later. Animated films are a great tool for presenting a product, service or business narrative. They can be presentational, product, educational or promotional. What they all have in common is that they attract the viewer and provide information as clearly and interestingly as possible.
It is interesting to test oneself in different fields, as each new experience broadens the horizons. However, if you have a business and are tempted to use illustrations for marketing purposes, entrust this work to someone with the knowledge and experience necessary. Call (070 773 850) or write (firstname.lastname@example.org) to us and see for yourself – we are the right developer for you.