15 Types of Digital Illustrations: Beginners’ Easy Tips

Are you considering bringing a career out of your artistic talent? You might want to consider exploring digital illustrations. This is a rewarding, multi-faceted, and exciting field with diverse opportunities. Today, there are different types of digital illustrations, and we have outlined the different types in this article. But before we move on to the types, let’s go through what digital illustrations are.

What are Digital Illustrations?

Digital illustration is a technique that utilizes computers to produce original artwork. It involves the creation of narrative images to tell a story, sell a product or concept, or convey an emotion. Basically, digital illustrators create computer art with the aid of image editing software and illustration software.

It is worth mentioning that digital illustration is not solely about manipulating images with the aid of software. The concept entails utilizing digital tools in creating new art. There are so many advantages of digital illustration, which is why it has gone beyond the conventional methods of creating artwork. Before digital illustration, creating designs with paint usually take hours, but with the right software, you can complete your design within minutes.

Digital illustrations make things a lot easier these days. You do not need to have different equipment on your table any longer. Illustration software comes with different brush sizes, color mixing, and an endless color palette. You only need this software on your computer to make the design seamless.

Also, digital illustration reduces the risk of errors, and you wouldn’t need to dry your canvas when you’re done. It allows illustrators to work with increased speed, precision, and efficiency.

Styles to Create Digital Illustrations

As mentioned earlier, there are different advantages of digital illustration. One of these advantages is the ability to go through different styles. You can easily create acrylic paintings, watercolors, pencil sketches, bold abstract vector art, and charcoal drawings with a single click.

Digital illustrations give designers complete control over customization features. This makes it easier to customize brush types and strokes. Illustrators can experiment and combine different styles and techniques in unimaginable ways. All of this is rather impossible with the conventional methods.

As a digital illustrator, your job is to create design components with respect to what a project entails. To do this, you’ll need a clear understanding of the overall design. It is important for every illustrator to know the history of art and understand the different styles of illustration.

Illustrators can also develop their style, but this would require them to work on other types of illustration. Therefore, it is best to know the different types of illustration.

Types of Digital Illustrations

Now that you know what digital illustration is all about, as well as its advantages, we can now proceed to the different types of digital illustration. The different styles of illustrations you’re likely to produce as an illustrator include the following:

1. Anime

Anime is short for animation. The artwork style has its origin in Japan, in the early 1900s, and it is a highly stylized illustration type that is used in commonly used in graphic novels and comic books. This illustration type can be expressed in 2D or 3D art, and it is generally more romantic than most western cartoons. Also, the design features intricate details and elegant long lines.

It is worth mentioning that anime is mainly for an adult audience, and they are mostly added to sophisticated storylines requiring strong emotions.

Recognizing an anime is easy because the features are noticeable. This includes gravity-defying hairs, exaggerated body parts, large and evocative, or small and demure emotive mouth, large eyes, hyper-feminine females, and muscly males.

2. Comics/Cartoon

A lot of people often confuse cartoonists with illustrators. Cartoonists draw caricatures, while illustrators create cartoons. Cartoons and comics are used in expressing storylines with different images. This is usually accompanied by captions or dialogue.

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Types of Digital Illustrations – illustAC

The main difference between cartoons and comics is that comics can either be in the form of a short panel, or a graphic novel, while cartoons are presented as single illustrations.

Cartoon and comic styles can vary in their spectrum. It can either be semi-realistic or non-realistic. Also, they are both utilized for communication or educational purposes, and the aim is to express an idea with visual representation.

3. Commercial Art

This is mostly used by advertisers and marketers who are trying to sell a product or service. Advertising agencies first create the concept to be used in an ad, and it is pitched to a client. The final graphics are then produced by an illustrator before it is used in different media. This could be television, phone, web, or print.

4. Caricature

This style of illustration utilizes exaggerated physical features in satirical or comical effects. Caricatures are usually created as figures with small bodies and large heads. Caricatures are usually made of politicians, public figures, and people in authority. The aim is to mimic or mock their personalities.

A designing caricature is often done by capturing the main feature of a person and altering these features while ensuring that the subject is easily recognizable.

5. Fantasy

Types of Digital Illustrations (Tiger Artwork from Minjuart from Deviant)

Fantasy illustration style is used in imagining realms, creatures, and worlds with endless possibilities. This is mostly used in graphic novels, gaming, and comics. Fantasy is also effective in film, illustration, and animation. Basically, it is a highly imaginative style and requires a great level of uniqueness.

Fantasy art is a form of art that is based on employed mythological features like warriors, heroes, maidens, and creatures. It is used in exploring the supernatural, sci-fi, abstract, and surreal.

6. Concept Art

Concept art is an illustration style that defines the features of a design or a visual set. The design of concept art often requires input from developers, clients, and event producers. You might be wondering whether a digital illustrator has a role in designing concept art because the style is not a technical illustration. However, digital illustrators are usually hired to create concept art, and this is why we’ve added it to our list.

7. Fine Art

This is the highest form of applied or decorative art, and it’s usually designed for meaningfulness and enjoyment. Fine art is mostly exposed in sculpture, furniture, architecture, pottery, metalwork, painting, etc.

Today, fine art is an integral part of the western tradition, and it is used in representing purity through arts and crafts. Also, fine art is now applied in design, photography, conceptual art, and film.

8. Line Art

This illustration style utilizes rudimentary shapes, lines, and colors. It focuses more on forms and involves little or no details like shadows, hues, and gradients. Line art can either be presented as 2D or 3D. However, it is worth noting that it mostly utilizes the outline of an image rather than including its complete details.

The illustration is widely applied in preliminary sketches and concept drawings. Its element is curved, quality of line, weight, hatching, crosshatching, curves, and direction.

9. Fashion Art

Types of Digital Illustrations – illustAC

Fashion art is mostly applied to the design and aesthetics of shoes, clothing accessories, and clothing. It is what most designers use in demonstrating their ideas in their collection. Fashion art begins with sketches as a representation of the garments in their collection.

A key quality that every fashion illustrator needs to have is an understanding of the human form and how clothing fit on the body.

10. Book Cover/Picture Book Art

Book creation usually requires pictures, and this is where illustrators play a vital role. This style is mostly applied in children’s books to further enhance the text in it. The style is also applied in book covers of different types of literature. Images used for this style are mostly highly expressive, and the aim is to add more life to the book.

In general, illustrators work with authors in developing books and ensuring that the pictures included in the books are closely related to the overall concept of the book.

11. Mixed Media

This style of illustration is a combination of different materials, and the aim is to properly express an image. For analog images, it could be in the form of paint, wood, paper, fabric, object, flowers, or metal. Digital images on the other hand include non-visual elements like moving imagery, sound, interactivity, or music.

The process that is adopted in covering objects like furniture before they are finished with lacquer is known as decoupage. Collage utilizes materials like magazine clippings, photography, and ribbons, and it is one of the most popular forms of mixed media art. An assemblage on the other hand is the 3D version of a collage.

12. Realism

As the name suggests, the illustration style is the closest to actual reality, irrespective of how it is applied. Therefore, whether it is used in representing landscapes or objects, the aim is to bring it as close as possible to the actual details in the real world.

One key thing to note about this style is that the art is expressed without exaggeration, and they are a reality in their representation. Realism is mostly applied in fine art, landscape painting, film plates, advertising, and book cover art. It can also be applied in animation, photography, and special effects.

13. Pixels

pixel digital illustrations
Types of Digital Illustrations – illustAC

This is solely a digital form of art, and it is created with software. The software arranges small squares to produce an image. These small squares are also called pixels, and they are too tiny to be seen with the naked eye. You’ll need a magnifier to see them.

Pixels are often expressed in 2D format, and they are applied in animation, gaming, special effects, and graphics. When displayed with low resolutions, it reveals the pixel blocks, and as such, it is best to display it with high resolution.

14. Vector artwork

Vector graphics are used in creating this style of illustration, and this is done with computer software like Adobe Photoshop. It utilizes shapes, curves, points, and lines in producing images on digital platforms. The main difference between vector artwork and pixels is that vector artwork is best displayed in low resolution. Also, vector artwork can be manipulated without losing the quality of the artwork.

One notable feature about this style is its robust nature, and this is why it has gained popularity in typography, online graphics, gaming, computer graphics, large-scale printing, and 3D animations.

15. Retro

digital illustrations
Types of Digital Illustrations – illustAC

The last style on our list is a retro illustration, and it is used in referring to old styles. A retro is a short form of retrospective, which means “look back.” This style is nostalgic, with its focus being on fashion, poster art, pop arts, and advertisement, all of which are mostly from the 1940s.

Retro features bold graphics, and it’s represented with strong colors. It is also a representation of a social setting, lifestyles, and even fashion. However, it is important to note that its application in the modern-day is sometimes ironic. This is because it can be used in highlighting societal changes, to retail artwork, advertise a product, or for commercial purposes.

Wrap Up

We have provided a detailed outline of the different types of digital illustrations. Knowing these different types is the first step to take in becoming a digital illustrator. Technology is constantly advancing, with different innovations being introduced daily.

One such innovation in the world of digital illustrations is the ability to get free illustrations, even for commercial purposes. You no longer need to create your illustrations from scratch. At illustAC, you can get free illustrations. The site features different samples of each of the types of illustration we have listed above. There are thousands of these illustrations available for you to download. What’s to expect more is that the site also features an editor that will allow you to make changes to any illustration you select.