Examples of Illustration Styles

By | 6:47 PM
Most illustrators have a preferred style and favorite medium to work with. Some work with markers, others with pens, and yet others use their artistic talent in computers. The process in general stays the same; it begins with an idea, molded to suit the artist's style, and then is brought to life on paper or board.  Here are three popular types that you may well be familiar with.


These illustrations are characterized by the expression of the absurd and of otherwise uncomfortable situations. Humorous illustrations often involve a wide range of topics: irreverent, critical, realistic and sometimes burlesque. Generally, the characters exhibit striking features and look cartoonish and funny. This type of drawing takes lots creative imagination, irony, and the ability to come up with a laughable side to a story. In other words, these artists are always considering different ways of making a joke out of an unfunny situation.

Henri Gerbault illustration
Henri Gerbault [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Modern Gothic

Another style that is found in many publications is the modern Gothic, which has several expressive characteristics. A key feature is its oppressive presence and strong medieval appearance. Characters in modern Gothic have a particular dark kind of quality while at the same time a sense of freedom in movement. The Gothic style can be described as an internal rebellion that does not accept the idea of "good" as promoted by society in general. Stories delivered in this style also tend to contain illustrations of medieval clothing, furnishings, weapons and utensils, among other things.

Frontispiece to Frankenstein 1831
By Theodore Von Holst (1810-1844)
(Tate Britain. Private collection, Bath.)[Public domain]


Manga comics and cartoons or anime have a unique style hailing from Japan. The characters’ facial expressions play an important role in the Manga style. The Manga illustrator connects with the viewer or reader through emotive eyes on faces with often exaggerated features.  These faces are still sweet and will be perfectly designed to tell a story.  Drawing the lines of manga characters is essentially based on accuracy and sensitivity. Manga illustrations not only must have excellent form but, usually emphasize inking techniques specialized to create each character. 

manga, looking glass, illustration
The Looking Glass Wars, Alyss & characters © Frank Beddor

This simple overview with samples and explanations of some styles of illustrative art can serve as a primer.  If you would like to learn more, check out this previous article which tackles the question What is Illustrative Art? 

Lee Varis, Illustration course, photoshop
The Fundamentals of Photo-Illustration in Photoshop
Newer Post Older Post Home


Phil Machi said...

I've always found the hierarchy of art strange. Becoming well-known and popular is considered "selling out" and working in a medium that more readily appeals to the masses is also somehow looked down upon. I find art to be a tool of communication and if something you create speaks to people who is anyone else to judge? Granted I don't like every piece of art I see either but the way I see it, if there is a clear level of skill and thought being put into a work, who cares what the style is?

Rebecca said...

I completely agree with the art is communication. I know how you feel. Thanks for chiming in on this article.

Blogger said...

I would like to suggest that you pick the #1 Forex broker: eToro.