The illustrator within me is a tad mixed up. I have managed to split myself into two versions and there’s a constant battle raging between these two for years together. As a young illustrator working in a Digital Design studio, I have had my share of embarrassing pitfalls as well as immensely appreciative experience when it comes to illustrating for clients. Below, I have tried to put together a few really important learnings that have taught me how to navigate smooth.
Designing for the user
The basic unwritten rule in my guidebook is designing for the user first. But this will take a while to kick in. As illustrators, we tend to lose ourselves trying to create stunning visuals which end up being too unrelatable for the end user. It takes self-control and some discipline to work out that fine line between designing for the user and yourself. A good practice here is to start illustrating a basic sketch and fine tune it to add pleasing visual details that satisfy your artsy soul as well as reaches the user.
Avoid complex symbols in illustration
While illustrating for a wide demographic audience such as in India, it is crucial to remember that you avoid using any kind of symbolism that pertains to any culture or language. Also, avoid any colours that may be offensive in your target area. The trick is to do enough ‘Background Research’ on the audience you are illustrating; this will always help you go the extra mile. Not only will it avoid negative connotations, but it would also help you ideate your sketches from the users perspective.
Avoid using too many colors - follow the hierarchy
The best possible hack in the illustration is using a minimal colour palette of maybe just two or three colors; this will ensure that the focus of the illustration isn’t lost. A minimal colour palette helps the user understand the hierarchy in an illustration without being exposed to multiple colors at once. Ensure that your illustration has plenty of breathing space and as few elements as possible. If it looks far too empty, you can help add accents of style by proving light foreground or background elements. But remember less is always more. You can never go wrong with this golden thumb rule.
Using Grid while composing the illustration
The Grid is a good enough rule to follow in all kinds of artistic fields, from illustration to photography. It is a means of control and helps constrain or extend your artwork in all directions. It becomes an impeccable symbol for control and ensures a sense of modernity in your illustrations. It’s a support system that helps abolish the vagueness if any. So however you illustrate, follow the grid and worship it.
Keep it contextual to the target audience
When I was a beginner in illustration, I would be eager to try out new styles and trends in illustration. This became a problem as I made visuals that would be beautiful and trendy but at a total loss when the user tried to connect with. Only when the frustration peaked, I realized I was going about this the wrong way. I learnt that every single time you need to start from the scratch; and once you begin to restrict yourself to suit the target audience, an opposite reaction happens. New ideas surface and help break the pattern, now you can go ahead and add your bells and whistles.
Don’t be afraid to experiment
Stay away from trends and try to nurture the innate style of illustration that you have. To know all the rules and break them once you master them is a special kind of pleasure. Don’t be too hard on yourself and enjoy the sense of gratification in this brilliant profession.