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What Are the Types of Illustration You Should Know?

What Are the Types of Illustration You Should Know?

Many people consider illustration types to be a term that means the pictures that you might see in a book. Others think of the term and automatically think of the drawings that precede animations in the design process.

While both are true to some extent, there are actually specific types of illustrations that all classify. In many ways, illustration is a blanket term that encompasses several different forms of art.

Illustration is the act of creating an image that is intended to represent something or tell a story. These images generally accommodate other mediums to create a more comprehensive presentation.

The tools that can be used to make a type of illustration style vary depending on the artist. With the introduction of digital tools, there are more ways to be an illustrator than ever before and different types of illustration that are more accessible to artists. Though the basis for all illustrations is the idea of creating an image, the presentation varies greatly.

Another related topic about illustration

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types of illustration pin


types of illustration - pencil illustrationPencil Illustrations

This is a classic type of illustration style that many people like to start with. It involves the process of drawing illustrations on nice paper with a pencil. Though the types of pencils can lead used can vary, the general techniques are relatively standard regardless.

Pencil illustrations are classic drawings and are often taught in art classes. These are commonly used for practice and sometimes in books.

Pencil illustrations can include either traditional pencils or colored pencils. In many books, particularly textbooks, pencil illustrations are incredibly common.

This method relies on drawing out and shading using only pencils and is known for its remarkable depth. Since the illustrator is using common tools, this is one of the cheaper ways to illustrate. It is also a great starting point for artists considering other mediums.

type of illustration - pen drawingPen Illustrations

This type of illustration relies on the use of pens instead of pencils. For this reason, it is considered a more extreme process. When you illustrate with pens, there is very little room for error. Though you might be able to cover up one or two stray marks, the rest will be etched in stone.

This makes it incredibly easy to compromise the integrity of your artwork unintentionally. Many artists will actually start by illustrating in pencil and then going over it in pen.

There are several different kinds of pens that can be used to create these different types of illustration. Some might be more basic pens, while others are created with specialized ink for added effects.

Top quality illustrating pens can be incredibly high in price, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth it. A nice set of pens can help an artist to make incredible illustrations that will resonate with anyone. These illustrations can be done in black and white or color, but both are known for their beauty.

types of illustration - watercolor illustratonWatercolor

Many people are surprised to learn that watercolor is a method of illustrating. This method is a particularly popular approach when it comes to illustrating books. It allows for fascinating visuals and mixes well with other kinds of illustration.

This makes it possible to draw the pictures in one form and use watercolor to add color. The results are always beautiful and seem to mesh well with a story being told.

Watercolor involves the use of paints to create a unique visual effect. The main reason that watercolor is so popular is because of how it looks visual. As a paint, there is less control, allowing for more interesting effects.

In many cases, it looks like the art itself is bleeding onto the page. This visual appearance that makes it look like a story is being born before your eyes is in high demand.


Not many people have heard of lithography, but many have seen it. This unique form of illustration involves printing onto a specialized surface. It can be printed on metal or might be added to a treated surface on another kind of canvas.

The idea to print on a surface where only the area that is meant to hold ink gets it. This process uses a hydrophobic substance to repel the ink as it hits the surface in certain areas. From this, an image can be formed based on where the ink is not repelled.

In some instances, rather than merely letting the ink stay on a designated surface, the image is passed on. This involves taking the surface with the ink and pressing it to some kind of paper in order to copy the image or words.

Historically this was used as a method of creating play scripts. The process used to be more manual involving oil and other messy products.

types of illustration - etchingsEtchings

Etching is one of the different types of illustration that people don’t often consider. The more common form of etching includes the use of metal. People will use a type of wax on a metal surface and then scratch images into the wax to reveal the metal beneath.

After the illustration is complete, the metal is dipped into a specific kind of acid that will eat into the metal where the wax has been scratched away. The result is acid eaten lines that are burned into the surface of the metal itself. This look alone can be incredibly interesting.

In some instances, people will not stop with merely letting the acid carve the metal. At the point where the metal is eaten away, you can add ink to the exposed lines that will then fill the lines.

This allows you to look at a more concrete and bolder version of the illustration. For a final step, people will take the ink-filled metal and press it to an appropriate type of paper to transfer the illustration onto the new surface.

types of illustration - charcoal illustrationsCharcoal Illustrations

There are many diehard fans of charcoal when it comes to types of illustration. Something about charcoal gives a feeling of softness that can have pretty amazing effects. This method involves drawing using charcoal specifically, and it differs from pens and pencils in several ways.

While pencil is hard and absolute, charcoal is a much softer material that does not spread the same way. The results of this is softer lines that give a smoother look to a piece of art that adds to its charm.

The primary benefit to charcoal as an illustration tool is the fact that it can be easily blended. The soft texture of charcoal is great for creating blended effects that add depth. Since it is easily blended, it can be more difficult to work with.

However, this tool makes it easy to make textures and shadows that look incredibly realistic. These images look like they belong as a historical record every single time.

types of illustration - collage illustratonsCollage Illustrations

Collages are an interesting form of illustration types that people don’t generally consider. However, this stylistic preference is unique enough to warrant its own category. For many people, collages are what you make as a kid with newspaper clipping.

In the world of illustration, the feel is the same, but the materials are different. When it comes to making these, the disorienting look is the goal, but it is still drawn.

For collage illustrations, you will use different kinds of art styles to make one cohesive image. This means that you might draw one part in pencil and another in pen.

It might mean that you exclusively change the style that you are using to create like doodles and realism. The point is that you have to make the overall drawing be composed of differing styles. This disorienting shift is what makes collage what it is.

types of illustration - digital drawingDigital Illustrations

Thanks to modern advancements, digital illustrations have joined the types of illustrations list. This process involves any illustrations that are created using digital tools. There are various devices that can be used to create these. Some artists use digital drawing tablets while others use normal tablets. The idea behind it is that you will be drawing on a digital platform.

This method of illustration is increasing in popularity over time. Since these tools are becoming easier to purchase and use, artists are flocking to them. This approach is useful because it allows for easy error correction and accommodates different styles.

Popular illustration applications allow users to water paint or draw in pen or pencil. The capabilities of this style are expected to advance with time.

types of illustration - vector graphicsVector Graphics

Vector graphics are a unique kind of illustration done entirely on computers. They involve using lines to connect multiple points in one way or another. Something that makes this special is the fact that they have unbelievable scalability.

This makes it so that the images can be enlarged or shank depending on how you would like the illustration to look. These designs also have a tendency to look incredibly polished, which is why they are frequently used for logos and other marketing tools.

This might not seem like a traditional illustration, but they still fit the mold of providing image presentation.

This form of illustration is becoming a quick money maker for digital artists. Since vector designs are designed digitally, they have a tendency to look better from a distance. These smooth and even lines can be seen more easily, particularly on a good design. The best kinds of vector designs are clear, concise, and not overly detailed.

types of illustration - montage illustratonsMontage Illustrations

If there is one method of art that does seem out of place in the types of illustration, it is montages. This art form relies on combining pictures to create a sort of hybrid image. The images are cut and put together in a way that makes them look like a single image.

Though there might be a mismatched look to them, it is important for it to look like an intentional image alteration. It should not look like a collage, but rather a specific image. It can be helpful to either do this digitally or take a picture of the new image to make it look more whole.

Montage images are often unique in the way that they register upon first look. Generally, people can tell that something doesn’t quite match up, and that is part of the charm.

It is the combination of bringing together two separate images to make one that makes for a unique look. It can be used to create thought-provoking images that stand out compared to others. This is often used in marketing plans.

types of illustration - 3D modeling3D Modeling

3D modeling is quickly taking over as a popular illustration style. Now that technology is making it easier for 3D images to be created, this style is becoming more popular. The fact that the average artist can make these illustrations with some tutorials is also helpful.

There is free software available which is helping to spread this style. It also has an added bonus of looking incredibly futuristic, which makes it appealing for modern artists.

For most people, 3D modeling is a secondary design step. Very few artists jump straight to 3D design. Instead, most of them will take the time to sketch out their design before jumping to this step. This helps artists to get a more comprehensive look at what they are making before they get to work.


There are several types of illustrations that all bring something unique to the table. This form of art is a valuable asset to many other kinds of art and can bring the most out of them. Illustration is a powerful tool in all of its forms. It has the ability to tell a story, evoke emotion, and make something look more lively.

This eye-catching method of artistic expression is becoming easier and more popular with the introduction of new tools. As time goes on, it is likely that a new type of illustration style will be introduced to the art scene.

What type of illustration do you do? And is there one you want to try?

Illustration FAQ

What is illustration method?

It’s a visual way to describe or explain information or concept, so that it is more visual appealing.

Are illustrators in demand?

Absolutely. Illustrators are needed far more than people realize. Illustrations are needed in media, games, animated productions, concept development, movies, television, and so much more. In addition to that many talented illustrators are achieveing fulfilling careers on social media.

What is graphic design illustration?

It’s one way to communicate and solve design problems. Two of the other ways are using typography and photography.