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Product Illustration: Everything You Need to Know

You must have come across illustrations that you see on the landing pages of certain digital products that you use, such as the vectorized cars that appear as you book a ride for yourself in Uber, or the whimsical illustrations of characters drawn using smooth brushstrokes on the landing page of Mail Chimp. You must be wondering what these illustrations are all about, and the fascination behind huge companies using such art forms in their products. These illustrations are what you call product illustration, and there are certain reasons why companies prefer using them.

What is product illustration, and what is the purpose they serve?

Product illustration is an intricate part of product design and is most commonly used to provide a human element to the user experience of your digital product. Such illustrations help in communicating complex ideas in an attractive and simplified manner, through the use of charming illustrations.

In order to understand product illustration services and the purpose they serve considering the illustration work that Alice Lee has done for Wealth front, a huge firm excelling in investment service, will prove to be a good starting point. Products that are related to the financial market are usually consisting of serious and technical aspects that make them complex to understand.

The product illustration design used by Alice has however helped change this perception and has ushered warmth and approach ability to financial products. In order to achieve this feat, Alice made use of metaphors that helped convey financial concepts. A good example of such a metaphor would be the use of plants to denote money, and a group of plants to relay that there has been a growth in the investment. Similar to plants, investments can also be grown and managed.

Editorial illustration and product illustration: What are the differences?

It is not uncommon to confuse the illustrations found on newspapers and magazines to be the same as those found on product designs. However, while the former is known as editorial illustration, product illustration differs from them as far as intent in concerned. Product illustration designs are targeted towards providing delight to the user and enriching his/her user experience, allowing him/her to understand complex concepts, benefits the product has and fall in love with the overall product. Editorial illustration, however, is designed to enrapture the reader and engage him/her with the content of the magazine or newspaper. Such illustration services help breathe in life into the stories the magazine or newspaper has released for user reading.

The best times to use product illustration

A good product illustration company will always suggest that you don’t use product illustration services, only to accomplish ornamentation of your product. This might lead to confusion, distraction and frustration in the users. As has been mentioned above, the use of product illustration must also be accompanied with a clear intent that starkly indicates the reason they are being used for. The best times to use product illustration include:

  • At times when the accompanying text is hard to understand or read
  • At times when you need to let readers know about the next steps they need to undertake
  • During times of on boarding new users
  • During times that an user has achieved an goal and you want an innovative way to congratulate them for their achievement
  • At times of user frustration or confusion

Tips that would help you initiate yourself in product illustration

Make sure that you maintain consistent styles

Your illustration can either become an astounding hit, or fail miserably, if you do not pay attention to even the smallest of details such as line treatment, color, perspective and other related elements. Most product illustration companies would tell you how important consistency is in being able to create a stellar product illustration design. For example, you cannot go forward with different illustrations in your product that have oversized proportions and rounded edges, while including one in between that is slender in its proportions, and displays sharp edges, such combination reeks of inconsistency, and can have a devastating visual impact on your illustration.

Inconsistency is something that you cannot have in your product illustration design as it corrodes trust. Moreover, product illustration is reflective of the brand identity and product that it is associated with and poor quality and inconsistency conveys a similar image for the product that it has been made for, thereby creating negative brand awareness for your company and product.

Make sure that you maintain minimal details while making illustrations for small screens

Although, a concept can become highly convincing if it is complimented with a detailed illustration, the same can have a negative impact on the visual effect of your illustrations if it is scaled down to the dimensions of a smaller screen. Owing to the huge popularity of smartphones and tablets, more and more people are browsing the internet, primarily using these devices. An illustration that might look brilliant when seen on a computer’s web browser might look cramped up when the same is seen on the web browser of a smartphone. Therefore, the best way to ensure that such an effect does not get created through your product illustration design, keeping minimal details by eliminating aspects of the design that are cumbersome and do not provide much context is a great way to ensure an aesthetic look.

Make sure that you communicate ideas that are abstract with the use of metaphors

Different people use products because of the tasks they can accomplish through their usage. However, conveying these tasks and ideas that users can achieve can often prove to be quite abstract, therefore making it harder to be thoroughly conveyed through the use of illustrations. The use of metaphors can prove to be a great benefit in this regard, whereby intangible concepts, such as being productive, can be conveyed in an efficient manner, through the usage of a tangible concept, such as getting things done and ticking off itineraries on a to-do list. Most professional and skilled product illustration agencies will try to device such metaphors by relating the abstract concept with something concrete that reflects the same idea. This is similar to the idea of using a checked off to-do list to reflect productivity.

Final words

Therefore, it can be understood that product illustration is a terrific way of highlighting the many benefits that a digital product possesses, while also being able to convince users into utilizing the product. A product illustration agency will also be able to attract customers towards your product, through the use of illustrations that help convey the complex uses of your product in the most simplified and fun manner possible. Product illustration price is also not a major concern, owing to the many competitive pricing schemes offered by different professional companies that excel in this business. Although, product illustration should not be the way through which you improve the product your company has created, it can be used in a strategic manner to attract customers and distinctly establish itself in the market, ahead of other competitors.

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