13 types of Illustration and the best kind to use for websites

deer designer mascot holding laptop illustration
Illustrations breathe life into brands.

Which of the ads you clicked on Google or in your social media feed this week led you to a website or landing page? Almost all of them, I bet.

Digital ads are designed to capture your attention rather than provide you with all of the information. The details are usually provided on a web page with plenty of space to explain.

Most website owners, however, make the mistake of explaining and selling their services solely through words. After you tap the call to action button, imagine hitting a wall of text when the landing page loads. Ouch

Including images on a landing page is important because it breaks up the monotony of text, makes the page more searchable, and is a requirement for a good landing page.

Now, what’s the best image to use on a website?

If you google “best image for landing page” you’ll get the generic advice to use relatable, authentic images of real people. If you’re a web agency and you blindly follow this advice, you’ll end up with a photo that 35,000 other websites also have.

Not so unique and authentic now, is it?

The goal of a landing page or website content should be to educate and inform visitors without overwhelming them. When you have a lot to explain, it can be difficult. 

It’s easier to illustrate what you can do for your client than it is to write it down.

Trying to explain services such as customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, or inventory management is more difficult than simply putting a stock photo of people celebrating in corporate suits. 

That one is strictly for the movies.

space race celebration in office

Illustrations are the best kind of imagery for websites

An illustration is a work of art that can be in the form of a painting, drawing, or print which explains the meaning of a concept or written text. 

It is widely used in books and magazines. Also, now that we are in the digital age, illustrations can often be found on the internet.

Types of illustrations

There are 13 types of illustrations and, at the end of this article, I’ll share with you the best type for your website.

1. Editorial illustration

Editorial illustration is similar to editorial cartooning or drawing, which is commonly found in newspapers. It includes the text to help explain the concept.

There are now editorial illustrators who draw digitally and use them in articles all over the internet.

editorial cartoon sample
Source: WSJ

2. Advertising illustration

This type is used to advertise or promote different products to customers. Businesses (both online and offline), e-commerce, and other selling platforms have examples of these. 

Its goal is to persuade and capture the attention of the viewer for brand recognition and awareness.

Advertising illustration
Source: Illustration History

3. Fashion illustration

This kind of illustration is used in the clothing industry to illustrate the design of the clothes before they are physically presented or created. It is also used by designers to excite their customers.

Fashion illustration
Fashion Illustration

4. Technical (Scientific) illustration

Technical illustrations are used to present complex objects or ideas in an organized way to provide a clearer and more accurate understanding.

They assist viewers or readers to visualize the main concept in one comprehensive picture or group of icons. This illustration is particularly useful for students or in-school presentations.

Technical (Scientific) illustration
Illustration: Parts of a Camera

5. Packaging Illustration

We always see this kind of illustration in our daily lives. Packaging illustration is also a promotional art that persuades buyers. This is important, especially for new products. The more eye-catching it is, the more likely it will be picked up from the grocery aisle.

Starbucks Packaging Illustration
Source: Starbucks Creative Expression

6. Cartoons/Comics

Cartoons and comic strips tell stories through a series of images, which are usually accompanied by simple dialogue or captions. As a result, the authors may be a combination of a writer and an illustrator.

The difference between the two is that a cartoon can be as simple as a single illustration, whereas comics can be as simple as a single panel or as complex as graphic novels.

i can do it i cant do it comic strip
Non-designers trying to D-I-Y a design

7. Commercial Art

The imagery used by advertisers to sell products and services is called commercial art. Creatives at advertising agencies and graphic design studios produce the concepts for an ad which is then pitched to the client.

Once the artwork is signed off it is up to the illustrator to create the final graphics that will be used in various media whether it be print, television, web, phone, etc., and will often also determine the format of the illustration (vector, jpg, etc.).

8. Concept Art

Concept art captures the distinguishing features of design and establishes the visual style of a project (whether it be film, video games, animation, advertisements, comics, or graphic novels).

Concept art will be developed and refined throughout the production process with input from producers, developers, and clients until the final design is approved.

Deer Concept Art Sample

9. Line art

Line art, as the name implies, is a type of illustration that uses simple lines, shapes, and colors with no complex backgrounds.

This illustration style focuses on form rather than intricate details like gradients, shadows, and hues. 

Line art, whether two-dimensional or three-dimensional, articulates the fundamental element of the outline without fleshing out the drawing.

Deer Line Art Sample

10. Mixed media

Mixed-media illustrations express an image by combining various materials. Fabric, paint, paper, wood, metal, flowers, found objects, and other materials could be used in analog images.

Non-visual elements in digital images may include sound, moving imagery, music, or interactivity.

mixed media design sample

11. Picture books/book cover art

Illustrators play an important role in the production of picture books. This illustration style is most common in children’s literature and serves as an accompaniment and enhancement to the text.

This also includes the creation of book cover art for a variety of literary works. Book illustration, which is usually highly expressive, helps to bring a story to life and allows for free creativity and vivid imagination.

12. Realism

Realism is an illustration style that is as true to life as possible. Whether it’s the recreation of characters, objects, or landscapes, these images are intent on accurately representing the real world.

realism design sample

13. Vector artwork

Vector graphics are images in a digital platform by using points, lines, shapes, and curves. Vector art, unlike pixel art, retains its quality at low resolution and can be resized and manipulated with minimal loss of quality.

Vector art is popular in online graphics, typography, large-scale printing, computer graphics, gaming, graphic design, 3D animation, and other fields due to its robust nature. It is widely used commercially in a variety of formats due to its adaptability.

vector artwork design sample

What’s the best kind of illustration to use for websites

Because the goal of advertising illustration is to promote products, it is useful and necessary for website owners. 

However, because you are selling an intangible service, I recommend including infographics or technical illustrations to present processes.

Remember to have your designer save it in a format that’s fast-loading and fit for your website.

At the end of the day, the best kind is always the one that helps your client understand the advantages of doing business with you. Instead of making a sale as the end goal, it is preferable to first help your clients understand.

Once your client understands your processes through the use of well-designed illustrations created by a professional designer, their foot is already in the door. 

You don’t have to force a sale any longer. They will seek your assistance if they believe you have the best solution to their problem.

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