Illustrations Methodology: The value of illustration in the digital world
Throughout history, brands have used illustration in multiple ways. This was seen as a great visual resource that helped to enhance messages in a way that words alone could not communicate. Illustrations was and is a language, more direct than words, more concise and sometimes if it is used well, more expressive.
This is why the illustration is a great opportunity for differentiation, to mark a distinctive pattern that reinforces the identity and makes room in a world so saturated with similar services and products.
In this way, it is not surprising that some of the most innovative companies in the world have noticed their value and developed an illustrative style as part of their digital brand strategy. Airbnb, Slack or Dropbox are clear examples of the implementation of a different visual strategy with its own character.
But … what is an illustration system?
It is a bit complex to explain, but trying to synthesize the idea, it is a collection of illustrative elements capable of combining, relating and articulating with each other, through clear guidelines to create scenes that represent and tell brand stories.
How do we create an illustration style and systematically create/produce it?
In recent years we have seen the constant rise of new agile production methodologies. Processes that tirelessly seek rapid and efficient creation at the lowest possible cost and with a greater focus on the creative terrain. This directly affects the graphic field, and this is why illustration is an integral part of the agile production methodologies and trend that prevails in the market.
The first thing is to be able to codify the brand promise in a visual style. To do this, we work with a chromatic range developed from the one established in the interface. The goal is to complement the UI and not hinder the interaction design. Later, the formal aspect is studied, such as stroke types, angles and curvatures, etc. The perspective, the plans and the approach should not be ignored since they are one of the attributes that generate the degree of personality. And finally the typology of scenes, which will have to have the capacity to condense the most complex narrative in the best way possible.
Once the principles are established, they must be made tangible and the line created. The two development paths are directed towards the characters and the scenarios.
The character design is the most complex, and comes from a conceptualization of the brand person, in which they will be inspired. The underlying strategy revolves around the identification of the core target with the protagonists of the illustration. The other side is directed towards the environment in which the characters develop the narrative. Contextualization can become as important as the characters depending on the distribution of emphasis and visual weights that we define.
Once we have the universe created, we are ready for the creation phase of the illustration system. It consists in dividing the illustrations in the minimum units, studying the possible combinations and creating using our selected tool, intelligent objects of the elements to work with instances or reflections of the original. In this way, the system will be completed and evolved in a flexible way by adding new scenarios, elements or characters.