THE IMPORTANCE OF ILLUSTRATIONS IN DESIGN
“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a phrase that applies to the design world. Designers create and utilize visual representations on a daily basis. Sometimes designers use photographs in their design, whereas other times, designers incorporate custom illustrations into their design. Custom illustrations can be extremely beneficial in a variety of scenarios.
Graphic Design vs. Illustration
Though graphic designers and illustrators are technically two different job titles, they tend to overlap. Graphic designers typically work more in commercial pieces, whereas people perceive illustrators more as fine artists. However, graphic designers often are able to illustrate, and/or are able to use illustrations in an effective way in their designs. Illustrators also often work with graphic designers or marketing teams to create custom illustrations for a campaign or brand. Sometimes graphic designers rely solely on text and photographs to portray an idea, but certainly also rely on illustrations to represent a concept.
If You Want to Represent Something Abstract, Use Illustrations
Sure, many ideas, stories, can be told via just copy/text. However, they should be paired with some sort of visual representation. The more abstract or complex an idea becomes, the more important it becomes to incorporate an illustration into the design.
Even something as little as illustrating numbers or bullet points can convey that the text has an order or important list of items.
Or, something even more abstract, such as the planets in the solar system, is much easier to understand when paired with an illustration to show what each planet looks like, size differences, and the order they are in.
If the Subject is too Ambitious to Photograph, Use Illustrations
If you’re working on a project that involves futuristic concepts or characters, definitely find a way to use illustration. Rather than setting up an overly complex and expensive photoshoot that will need to be Photoshopped, simplify the process with an illustration.
At ocreations, we recently created an illustration for the Pittsburgh Irish Festival. The festival has been held at the same location for years, and is going to be at a new location this year. Since it is in a new location, people may have a hard time visualizing what it will be like. So, the ocreations team created an illustration to show people what the event space will look like. Check out the illustration below:
If You Want to Tell a Story, Use Illustrations
Think about the stories you’ve read or heard over the years. There are often characters or a journey that you can imagine in your head. Bring these imaginations to life in your design projects when they need to tell a story. No, the illustrations do not have to look “cartoony” or “childish” – there are different stylistic ways to approach illustrations, depending on the type of story, brand, or client you work with. The idea of creating characters or other elements to tell a story is a fundamental part of storytelling, and can be applied to many different situations.
For instance, ocreations recently designed a poster for Dr. Tumblety’s Apothecary & Tasting Lounge. The poster gives insight to the brand’s character, Dr. Tumblety.
Visualize Data with Illustrations
Rather than making a standard pie chart or bar graph, try to use illustration to portray the data in a visually appealing way. Utilize sketches, characters icons, etc. to create meaningful infographics.
Use Illustrations in Branding
An entire company’s brand is sometimes based off of an illustration. Designers often utilize illustration techniques in designing logo concepts. Designers also incorporate illustrations in designing other branding items such as custom icons and custom service flow charts/graphs. For instance, instead of writing “phone” on a business card and listing the phone number, a designer would create a phone icon to represent the word “phone” – it saves space and adds an interesting element to the card. Illustrations in branding also create a sense of consistency in a brand’s identity.
For example, ocreations recently designed a series of icons for Franjo Construction for each of their services. Check them out below:
Use Illustrations in Packaging
You can even use illustrations on packaging design! Depending on who the client is, and what audience they’re speaking to, an illustration might be the best design choice. Check out the packaging design (and other pieces) for a game called Brainy Ball.
Use Illustrations for Events
Illustrative styles can add an interesting perspective to an event. For the past several years, ocreations has been the design team for the Pittsburgh Irish Festival. Each year, there is a new theme, and each year we have to illustrate that theme. Here are some samples of designs from the past few years of the Pittsburgh Irish Festival.
Use Illustrations for Promotional Materials
If it works with the brand, try to incorporate illustration into the brand’s promotional materials. This can be anything from interior signage, to flyers, even billboards! Check out how the illustration style for 3 Guys, an optical brand, was carried out across a variety of promotional materials (interior signage, a billboard, and even a light-up sign):