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Illustration and Vector Artwork

What is Illustration Vector Artwork?

Artwork for internet content and print.

If a picture tells a thousand words, doesn’t that make communicating a little confusing? 

Wouldn’t you agree that telling stories through imagery is a naturally effective means of communicating ideas that can readily align with the varying sentiments of people around the world?

Which is why for me, illustration; drawings, paintings, artwork… often work well, or at least will always have a place in the commercial world of business for promotional purposes.

Of course, photography has its place too, and is more often used because of its fast and convenient nature of capturing “ true-to-life” events and representations of the real world.

Illustration vs Photography


Some would say; Illustration expresses in ways that conventional photography can’t…

Photography as we all agree, is ideal for situations where you need to communicate something accurately or true-to-life. Such as a live sporting event, clothing for a fashion catalog, or a picturesque landscape for a holiday brochure.

However, before photography became what it is today. Illustration was the first means of capturing ideas and images of events from around the world which could be printed on a shareable medium, normally paper. Today that shareable medium is mostly digital.

Now, whilst its true that photography is normally the more faithful means for producing true-to-life representations of events, objects and so on. The two, that is, photography and illustration, can actually work closely together as part of the process in producing unique and expressive illustrations and imagery. 

Which is why many individual illustrators strive at developing their personal, unique and expressive style of drawing. The digital world has really opened a way for a wider range of artistic expression. However, along with this, is also a very competitive industry.

The “Pulling” Effects of Illustration, Photography and Typography

Can you remember drooling over a drawing of your favourite superhero, displayed in full colour on the cover of a comic book?

In spite of the important use of text for communicating. It is the imagery in promotional material that normally does the initial ‘shouting’ for attention. 

The artwork for your promotional material or web content is often likely to be composed with a combination of either; illustration and type, photography and type, or all three. However, it is also common to use strictly type.

typography can also work closely with Illustration, or even as an illustration

The difference in the beauty of Illustration however, at least compared to the use of typography, is that illustrations evoke a different kind of ‘emotion’.

And similar to its comparison with photography, illustration tends to have a greater “pulling” effect, in a way that conventional typography does not. 

However, as with photography, typography can also work closely with Illustration, or even as an illustration. 

All in all, illustration provides a fun and almost boundless “world” of possibilities. And probably serves as an aid for exercising the imagination, learning, a ‘device’ for grabbing and maintaining interest and attention. You can see this especially in young children and their love for cartoon drawings. 


And just to elaborate, for those of us familiar with the Stan Lee era of superhero comic books, you know; Spiderman, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk etc. The illustrations that went behind creating and bringing all the different superhero characters to life, had, and still have that “attention-pulling” effect today. 


Starting a vector artwork from scratch

janet vector drawing
Basic Setup – Using Just Affinity Designer Software and Mouse

Vector artwork is the most robust format for producing artwork that needs to be reproduced at different sizes for both print and web use.


Useful things to know about vector artwork

Now, just as with any other illustration process or method, the nature of vector artwork, readily lends itself to a number of uses and styles of execution. From geometric patterns, logos, cartoons, to highly detailed technical drawings. Vector artwork is the most robust format for producing artwork that needs to be reproduced at different sizes for both print and web use.

However, vector artwork does have its limitations in terms of emulating conventional drawing or painting styles. Although, you might find that there are some digital artist out there that push beyond the boundaries with their artwork. 

Anologue to Digital – From pencil drawing to vector artwork

Digitising your pencil drawings and then finishing them off using a vector drawing software is a common practice used by illustrators and professional design agencies for especially; publications, advertising billboards and posters, cereal packaging and other commercial material.

The thoroughness of the design process amongst such agencies would often involve the use a visualiser. Who would produce illustrations or, rather, sketches (sometimes termed as visuals), simply as place-holder or positional guide, for where a photograph may eventually be placed. Again, another example of photography working with illustration. 

Today, most digital artist will enjoy the ability to digitise their artwork on-the-fly along with the aid of digital pen tablets and other the other related technology. Although, for first time users however, digital pen tablets may take a little getting used to. 

Another useful thing to know about vector artwork is that you can also use photographs as a template for quickly building your composition. 

Starting with just a mouse and software is the absolute basic setup possible. However the recommended routes are more current for todays environment. 

Mouse (essential)


Drawing Pen (recommended)
Tablet (recommended)
Touch Screen (recommended)


2 useful advantages of using vector artwork include;

1) Enlarging a vector graphic does not result in image pixelation.

2) Produce logo and other graphical artwork using
with both flat and tonal colour… 

Vector artwork is highly suited for producing artwork for; instructional manuals and guides, product design visuals, fashion drawing, logo design, packaging artwork, advertising, typography, textiles and whatever else you can practically throw at it.


Products mentioned in this post:

Affinity Designer supports iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 & 3, iPad Mini 5 and iPad. For desktop version please try the Serif.com website.

affinity-designer-logo-blue-1. Affinity Designer – Serif Labs affinity-designer-logo-magenta Affinity Photo – Serif Labs digital-pen-tablet-screen

Digital Pens, Tablets and Screens


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