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19-Nov-2021

Illustrations v/s Images. Is one better than the other?
Illustrations vs Images

Art is fluid. It seeps through the conscience and is uplifted by the artist’s perspective. A major element of designing is its visual appeal that is enhanced with images or illustrations. When creating a design, each designer will have a different theory of using illustrations or images.  Is one better than the other? Let us find out …

Purpose of design

The prime purpose of design is to attract, impress and influence the audience. According to a survey, more people believe that the visual appeal of the design is a major influencer and determinant of credibility.  In this article, we discuss illustrations vs. images or pictures. Each has its own pros and appeal that communicates with the viewer in its own unique way. Each has its purpose; each decodes with the design, with its own charm.  The decision to choose between these two depends on what your design targets to achieve.

Impact of visuals

Any picture has the capacity to invoke emotions. It depends on whether you want to trigger positive or negative emotions. Positive examples are excitement, humor, intrigue, empathy, etc., and negative examples are fear, anger, disgust, greed, and the likes.

The product or service you are branding largely influences which emotions you want to trigger in your audience. For example, a company selling toys and games will want to invoke feelings of excitement, fun, and humor, whereas an insurance company or other professional service may use fear or worry to demonstrate the need for their product.  

Illustrations or Images?

Illustrations and images both have their unique characteristics to impress and influence the audience. Again, one rule does not fit all. Whether to use illustrations or images in designs measures on variable parameters. We will discuss both, to understand how and when each can be used to leverage their full potential.

The world of abstracts - Illustrations.

  • Illustrations can be used as a part of the branding image of any advertising campaign.  Using company-specific or campaign-specific colors, and style that is associated or is a part of the company can connect the design and creativity to the brand and add value to it.
  • Illustrations can make the design easier to understand. With illustrations, you can tweak the rules of representation, and portray specific information, that connects and educates the audience effectively.
  • They can be used specifically for branding, which is not product-related, as for selling an innovative idea, lifestyle, services, etc. Illustrations make the abstract look and feel more tangible.
  • They can set the tone for your company and make an impact, by conveying not only the product's capacities but by portraying the visual tone and aesthetic of your brand. Even though product shots can get similar from one company to another, the visual appeal and aesthetic can make a strong and lasting impression.
  • Illustrations can be more fun and engaging compared to images in certain scenarios. An illustration can be very generic and customized to justify the crux of the design.  It dissolves any limitations of age, gender, or other conventional characteristics.
  • Illustrations are a great replacement to convey otherwise boring data. For educational marketing, science, or medical creative designs, illustrations work the best. They can create attractive infographics, depict functionality, and other details in creative ways that engage the audience and create a memory.
  • Illustrations are also effective in magnifying the small details and close-ups, in an exploded view, which is otherwise not possible or cost-prohibitive with photography.
  • To think of the pros for illustrations, the fact that they are the fast-selling and a growing trend, make them the first choice for most companies. Illustration-oriented designs have gained much popularity, with many big designing companies.
  • There is a fair reason for not using illustrations, especially when on a tight schedule, which is the case for most website, campaign, or design launches. Custom illustrations are time-consuming, as they are made from scratch, to suit your specifications. 

Capturing reality  - Images

  • Photos are a great connecting medium. When used in a design, they uplift the design with a real-life touch, establishing a strong element of trust. Images or pictures have the capacity to stir up emotions, by making the creative more relatable and personal. 
  • Photos have the power to add credibility to your brand.  Using real photos of office spaces, employees, behind-the-scenes, or a time-lapse, can be used to connect and impress the audience with an honest and reliable insight into your company.
  • They provide the audience with a clear understanding of your product or service. If your business is all about rolling out new, complex, and innovative products, then photography is the best option for effective branding. Using images of your products or even stock photos, help people understand what they can accomplish with your product. It helps them contextualize the outcome and positively add to their purchase decision.
  • Images work best for a mature audience. As compared to kids, adults have a limited imagination capacity and patience. Using realistic pictures that give them a quick understanding of your product, is a great way to connect and inspire them. Children however love illustrations that give a boost to their imagination. Their minds are curious to learn and come along on the intriguing journey.
  • Custom photography is a good option to give your brand a competitive edge. It helps avoid the risk of using pictures, which may be used by your competitors too!
  • Images are great choices for depicting food, culture, lifestyle, interiors, architecture, fashion, and the likes. They capture exciting elements and fine details, portray reality, set the mood, and create nostalgia.

The blend – Photo Illustration

With technology, a hybrid method of combining the best of both mediums is possible. Many software gives a full range of options to shape imagery, and augment images with graphic treatments. Illustrations too can be tweaked for a photo-realistic effect. This fusion of the best of both gives stunning effects, which otherwise would not be possible with pictures or illustrations alone.

The verdict

Both these styles have a unique edge. There are plenty of examples of companies using both illustrations and images for their advertising and branding, and both are known to give splendid results.

When deciding, choose what suits your brand and requirement, and that which helps you accomplish your target. Being at par with current trends is the need of the hour, but again trends keep evolving. So, weigh in all factors when choosing images or illustrations for your brand.

Honestly, an innovative and creative team can use either medium and yet give the best results. So which one is better? Well, both are great choices!

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