An Introduction To Digital Illustration
Digital Illustration is a huge form of media in 2017. We will commonly see examples of digital illustration on many different platforms. As social media is a rising international platform for connection, this has a major part in why digital illustrator is so big. However, it is also common to digital illustration outside the world of the internet, being commonly used for product advertisement and marketing. We will often see digital Illustration being used with posters and billboards, for example, brands like Mcdonalds, and Ben and Jerry’s have a very Illustrative theme to their brand’s at this current time, and use a lot of digitally made imagery whilst advertising, and branding themselves.
This factor of using Digital Illustration as a form of advertising also applies to social media. Social Media is hugely populated, with amounts of users growing every day. For example, Facebook currently has over 1.8 billion active users, Facebook carries features that allow you to share things with your friends, and this applies to company advertising, art and designer promotion, and sharing casual things like memes, which can sometimes also carry a digital illustration element to them.
Illustration within Marketing and Advertisement
Digital Illustration is an excellent marketing and advertising technique. Illustration as a whole is used very commonly in advertising, and it is a very useful resource to have when producing a product that a company wants to be appealing and recognisable. For example, when researching companies related to digital illustration, the following all came to mind, as they commonly use illustration when demonstrating their products. Another aspect of Illustration that is commonly used in advertisement and marketing, is the usage of a mascot. Many companies choose to use a mascot to represent their product, and in doing so they leave an impression on the public, that when shown a company’s mascot, they can easily identify them.
“What is the role of illustration in advertisement and marketing?”
When looking for an answer to the question “Why is Illustration used commonly in advertisement and marketing?” It was common to read, “Illustration is a good way to persuade, inform, and influence action.” And keeping in mind how big a platform social media is in 2017, I agree that illustration is a great way to grab someone’s attention and using it to provide information about a company, or like I previously said, make a trademark appearance for a company, that is memorable.
Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are a great representation of digital illustration being used within advertisement and marketing. They use features that are very distinct to them, and in my opinion, their TV adverts are always appealing and make me want to buy their product. A consistent feature of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream adverts and campaigns is the usage of flat imagery, bold colours, and interesting quirks that reflect on the ice cream flavour.
Ben and Jerry’s in particular stood out as a brand that uses digital Illustration in a successful way, and that is the reason I have included them in this research. The company use the features of cool tones as well as soft, flat colours in their overall appearance. They continuously stick to simple designs, including the way they represent foreground images such as cows or grass. They tend to never include warmer colours like red, this could suggest that they are trying to take a very calm approach to their branding. The imagery isn’t too outrageous, and never includes warmer tones unless they are associated with the ice cream flavour, for example, cherry or strawberry. The style is very simple in appearance, and that is one reason why it is recognisable and appealing to consumers. The cows in the meadow could also be associated with dairy and milk. Ben and Jerry’s could also use this as a way to represent that their product comes from well farmed animals, and is produced in good conditions, with quality ingredients. As Ben & Jerry’s also began as a smaller brand, this could represent their homemade element. Their use of digital Illustration, in particular, has shown to be very effective in selling their product, as I am now able to identify this particular imagery as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream without having to think about it. In this particular setting, digital illustration serves a much greater purpose when it comes to advertising and marketing, and I will talk about the statistics that support this statement when I go into Kellogg’s.
I chose to talk about Kellogg's in particular because to me, they have a big place in the digital illustration industry, particularly their breakfast cereals. Kellogg's breakfast cereals have always been easily recognised by their use of mascots, for example Coco pops and Frosties both have some of the most iconic mascots, Tony the Tiger and Coco the Monkey. Tony the Tiger in particular stands out the most to me, as his design is very unique and he follows with an iconic catch phrase "They're gr-r-reat!". I think the idea of a product being represented by a character is a very clever way of advertising and drawing in new customers, especially for the likes of children, as cereal with characters on them tend to have a higher success rate amongst younger ages. The concept of a mascot in television advertisement creates this new dynamic of adding a narrative to the cereal, and therefor making it more interesting to consumers. For example, with Coco pops they add an angel and devil type narrative, where an alligator is trying to steal the coco pops from Coco the monkey, and Coco always ends up protecting the cereal and then proceeds on eating the product at the end of the advert, followed by the iconic slogan, "I'd rather have a bowl of Coco Pops". Coco Pops in particular have a very huge franchise, releasing relating products of the same nature constantly, and using the same iconic Monkey mascot. Kellogg's are also very clever with their colour schemes, as with these cereals, they use out going colours to compliment the "Wow" factor that the cereal suggests it offers. The usage of characters in this particular type of product has been shown to be incredibly successful and it is possible that if the cereal had nothing interesting about its brand, then it wouldn't be selling to the targeted audience as productively. This is due to the fact that children are better interested by imagery and therefor, digital illustration serves a fantastic purpose as a role in this specific type of advertisement.
In conclusion, Illustration is extremely useful when it comes to advertisement and marketing in 2017, as the use of imagery over text is something that is hugely popular and can be used universally to translate to a consumer. Evidently, using Digital illustration proves to be successful when advertising a product, as in most cases using illustration, especially in a unique and interesting way often results in stock rises. When looking at this factor without any knowledge of the reasoning for using such media, it is evident that good quality Imagery can not only grab attention, but it also is easily spread throughout social media, due to the fact that everything is so easily shared, and things that are successful trend extremely quickly.
Illustration In Modern Day social Media (on YouTube)
I felt it was necessary to include YouTube within my research topics when discussing digital illustration and why it is so important as it is one of the largest social media platforms in 2017. The YouTube platform is a domain for many content creators, and Digital Illustration is often a huge factor within YouTube.
YouTube is a video platform that anyone can submit too. It is a great place for freelance content creators, and the content uploaded has a whole range of possibilities, this can include Beauty, Gaming, Lifestyle, Tutorials, and many more. I personally use YouTube as a viewer and spend a lot of my spare time on YouTube. As a viewer, to find research for this particular topic I have found creators that I think, use a significant amount of digital illustration when producing content, and why it is evidence that digital illustration is a great way of representing yourself on social media in such contexts. When building an audience, it has always been important that you represent yourself well, and in most cases create a brand for yourself. A lot of the time, YouTubers wouldn't be as big as they are if it wasn’t for their brand. Even Pewdiepie (the YouTubers with the most subscribers in the world) is recognisable by his iconic “brofist” symbol.
Domics animation, is one of the most successful animation channels on YouTube, Carrying over 400 million channel views, and 3 million subscribers. Domics channel is focused solely on animations. The animations include content like story telling and discussing relatable topics in the form of a quirky animation with an iconic and distinct style. I personally really enjoy such content as it is entertaining to watch and listen too, and adds a completely new dimension to the “vlog” concept
Domics overall has this appearance on YouTube that is incredibly recognisable to those that know him or may know of him. He tends to keep his character design simple but always follows this with his haircut in the time of the video. These marshmallow type people are a rising trend in the animation community and Domics, in particular, is a good mascot to represent it. In my perspective, this represents digital illustration within the YouTube community, as it captures the essence of what is important when building an audience, as well as representing what can be successful if done well with YouTube and social media. Furthermore, you can sometimes find some of Domic’s most popular animations on other social media websites such as Facebook or Twitter, and this perfectly justifies why I have included this topic in my research, as it shows that digital illustration is hugely valued in communities such as YouTube.
Pyrocynical is a YouTuber who is known for his previous online appearance, and I have chosen to include him in my research because this content creator in particular previously had a massive following, and partly due to his image he used as a way to portray himself in his videos, as well as give his channel more personality. Pyro also has a signature set of colours that to anyone that watches his content, will know as the Pyrocynical colours instantly. Along with having a previous huge digital image, his fans are well-known in the community for producing work that is of high standard in the digital industry. I myself have partaken in creating something for Pyro, and i think over all his community is very creative and very strong when it comes to digital.
Pyro's Foxy character is based of a character found in the game "Five Nights at Freddy's", but includes many different features to the original character, making it unique to Pyro and is easily distinguished from the original Five Nights at Freddy's character. Pyro's character has very distinct arms and legs, that almost look like bones. They use dark grey, with curves and points as the common style used to illustrate these features. There is also gaps between the outer section of the limbs, which in my opinion is incredibly interesting and unique. Along with this interesting feature, Foxy can always change his appearance by placing a computer screen on his head an becoming a completely new character. The computer character doesn't resemble an animal what so ever from the neck up, and the facial features change incredibly, the mouth has more of a sharp edge, but still carries a smug look, but it gains more of a human appearance due to the lack of a snout or dog nose. He continues to have the same colour scheme through out a lot of his characters, and it is also quite common that he uses fan art for his YouTube appearance. A content creator that gives back to the fans, and has a good attitude towards their fans is incredibly successful and extremely needed on a social media platform such as YouTube, as the bond between a content creator and their subscribers is very intimate. In this case, Digital Illustration plays a huge roll in this particular YouTube channel, and i think that evidently it served a much greater purpose than using a different type of media, as it was incredibly individual to Pyro, and up until recently when he revealed his face, his image was only portrayed by the illustrations. However, Pyro still uses and praises the fan art constantly, by featuring some of his favourite pieces in his videos.
In conclusion, i believe that digital illustration within social media is extremely successful, especially on a platform like YouTube. Because YouTube is such a wide platform for content creators and audiences, i have always believed that using multiple choices of media can often strongly appeal to both parties. The digital age is fast growing, and i believe as a viewer of these content creators, i can easily identify that i find their uses of Digital illustration to appeal to me, and i also think that particularly content creators i watch have to use digital illustration in order to appeal to an audience, and my examples have done this successfully.Tying in with the theme of advertisement and marketing, it is extremely important for the creators to make a brand for themselves in any way possible, but using digital illustration in my opinion is really beneficial and works effectively.
Digital Illustration within social and political issues
In a world where a lot of issues can occur in society, it is always important to raise these issues within communities to try and resolve them or make an improvement to previous situations. As we live in a society where social issues are becoming better as the years progress. A lot of social issues are commonly addressed through the media of digital illustration, and often times these images are widely spread on social media, and shared amongst many people, becoming a conversation topic and sometimes helping people to try and make a change.
Digital Illustration is extremely common to find when looking for information on social and political issues. Some popular issues that are often addressed in social media communities are racism, animal cruelty, homophobia/transphobia, or politics. It is important to address issues such as these in the most effective way possible in order to raise awareness and show support as well as give a sense of community. Tumblr and Twitter are really good platforms to see related images that are part of movements such as black lives matter. Twitter in particular is very big on the anti racism scene, this is because Twitter is reliant on relevancy and is a great source to find out news and trending topics, and as a result of this you can often find digital illustration or imagery related to such topics like racism etc. Using such techniques to translate a point, makes it a very reliant source. This is extremely successful when the source being used is posted on a heavily followed platform, and there for is able to be spread more easily. A very good reason to use illustration in such cases is because it can be interpreted any way a person best sees fit and gets people talking, therefor increasing its relevancy and repeating its social media cycle (being shared amongst people, and then those people sharing it).
In 2017 the LGBT+ community is incredibly large. In 2015 1.7% of the UK population identified as Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual, with a popular amount of those being aged between 16-24. As these numbers are growing in the masses, it is important that we break stigmas and stereotypes, and also try and sway the opinions of previous homophobes, as it was extremely common up until recently to be shamed for being a homosexual. Creating controversial imagery is extremely successful in drawing attention to a subject and making a conversation, and as digital Illustration is incredibly large we can use these tactics to raise awareness and show support. In this particular image you can see that there is a boy and girl stood in the other genders stereo typical clothing, with the statement “you don’t have to conform to traditional gender roles”. Gender roles is a common issue brought up by feminists, and in my opinion breaking these stereotypes would be an excellent step in having a more optimistic society. The way it is represented with the imagery could be perceived in many different ways, and it will also create a conversation amongst a group of people as it is able to spark up many opinions. I like the way the artist has used a really simple and childish style for this piece, and only use 5 colours. I also like the fact that they have payed attention to the flower details, and added some things to the boys drawing that you wouldn’t normally see on a boy, like the earrings, or the way the eyebrows are drawn in a very makeup style, I like the fact that the artist has kept the beard on the boy, and kept the girl with her normal female features as well. I think using imagery like this in a millennial generation makes things look normal to us, but to older generations this imagery could maybe make people think negatively. The use of this is far more successful than using text or acting because it is quick and eye catching, therefor making it more accessible.
As there was a recent presidential election in the United States, and there is a general election on the 8th of June, I felt it was relevant and interesting to discuss digital Illustration within recent politics. Politics is obviously a hugely controversial and trending topic, as more changes and stories arise about the current higher power, or news about fellow parties in the running. In all this chaos, parties need to recruit followers using the most successful techniques. They may do this by using videos, having campaign talk’s in-between TV programs, or using YouTube and social media adverts. A method that is also quite promising is using digital imagery. Digital illustration is good and bad in this context, it can be used to create propaganda that can lure in potential followers, but also to make other parties or candidates look bad. In this particular piece we can see Donald Trump portrayed in an angered manor, with two buttons. This is a comedy piece that is drawn in a traditional comic style, and I find it particularly amusing, as it is the epiphany of Donald Trump. Trump is known for tweeting about the most ridiculous things, or just being plain out prejudice, but he has also recently made a decision to bomb Syria to “send a message” and made many points when campaigning that he takes no shame in using nuclear weapons to “defend his country”. This piece of illustration is clearly negative propaganda against Donald Trump, and the artist has been extremely clever and witty with their method of executing this point as it is witty and comedy is also a great way to draw attention to something.
In conclusion I believe in such contexts it is important to use the most effective form of media, and in this case digital illustration can serve a great purpose in raising awareness for a cause and to show community and support. I would favour this option of communication over something like a leaflet or advert because I enjoy the fact that it isn’t time consuming to look at but can still raise a question in my head and make me think about what I have just looked at. In many cases you will find that people prefer it when a type of media isn’t so time consuming as it is more convenient and productive. Seeing an image of an anti-war on Facebook will do me a far greater impact than seeing a 10 minute video that I could easily scroll past and never see again because it is easier to access.
Digital Illustration in my own work
This piece was my first time experimenting with digital painting, and overall I think I managed to successfully recreate the classic meme Doge in my own way. For this piece I used a mixture of different tools and software’s and I also followed an amount of YouTube tutorials as well as taking skills I had already learned and applying them to the task in hand. I used a combination of paint tool SAI and Photoshop, two software’s I am not so familiar with rather than Adobe Illustrator, as I commonly like to focus my work on being vector based and animations. I firstly started by drawing the outline sketch as you would on paper. I then proceeded onto drawing basic shapes for all the features of the dog, for example the ears, eyes, and body. I did these all in one block colour so I could proceed on building the colours up to give the piece dimension. I also used many effects on the dog, for example the blur tool, or in paint tool SAI I used the water brush tool and blur tool to blend the colours and add a little bit of a softer texture to the painting. The piece overall took 7 hours to produce, this included learning new techniques, mastering old techniques that could be effective on the piece, and then producing the piece as it required attention to detail and a fair amount of accuracy to produce a Doge look alike. For the final touches to this piece, I used an amount of several filters, such as the grain filter to add a computer generated texture to the piece and add that internet flair. I think this filter definitely brings the piece together and adds for a good little extra. I also added comments in comic sans to fit with the meme theme. I came up with little phrases that would be used in such context and added them to the piece to add a comedy aspect to it. Overall I think for a first time at doing some digital painting, it was executed well and I really captured the essence of doge, making it look extremely similar to the original photo. To improve I could try and use different techniques and test out different brushes to give the piece a more realistic feel, but I also like the piece the way it is, as it follows the theme of the internet.
This next piece I also did out of experimenting with new techniques and styles. I was experimenting with pixel art and as a result of this I made many pieces in this style. This one in particular is one of my most successful pieces of work in the pixel art style because it is an original piece formed purely by inspiration. I learned techniques through YouTube tutorials and followed tutorials for Illustrator and Photoshop, and then decided on a technique I preferred. Firstly I set up a document that was 30:80 pixels, I then used the pencil tool and eraser tool to create shapes. It is important to bear in mind that just because you are using squares to create an image that you still have to get the right angles and that you don’t have to make things look square just because you are doing pixel art. It is also important to remember that if you want to make successful art that looks realistic, you need to use a multitude of shades to create dimension. For example when creating the sky I used a reference photo of a night sky and used multiple shades of dark and light blues. For the moon you have to pay extreme attention to detail as the moon has a lot of visible dark spots that required me to use multiple different shades of grey in order to achieve a successful moon. It was also important to think about the way I created the circular shape as with too little or too many pixels the moon could look too square and therefor unrealistic. For the clouds I used slightly bigger pixels but made the opacity of the colour 30% and then built up lines using thinner pixels and overlapping the first layer of colour, which in the end worked effectively. To scale the image up in size when i was finished with the piece, I set up an A4 document in landscape form and used the tool nearest neighbour when scaling to make sure that the pixels didn't change in size. Pixel art is extremely huge in the digital illustration community and I am glad I was able to accomplish and require a new skill with such success.
I commonly draw cartoons as pieces of work and in my opinion, character design in general is my best field. This piece was inspired by the adult swim show Rick and Morty. I decided to draw someone I know in this style because I know they like the show and I wanted to experiment with this style as I have experimented with several different cartoon styles in the past and the Rick and Morty style has many features that I find unique and interesting. For example, they draw the pupils of the characters in a quite distorted and messy way, but like to keep things simple as far as the characters are concerned. It was a slight challenge for me to draw the hair on his character as most of the main characters don’t have extremely textured hair besides Rick, so I took inspiration from his type of hair and turned it into the person I was drawing’s type of hair and I think this turned out successful as I was able to achieve a simple look whilst still incorporating the curly hair. I did this piece using illustrator and a graphics tablet, as I think that using a tablet for drawing cartoons is a really effective method as it feels a lot more organic rather than using a mouse. I used the brush tool to draw outlines and then I went in on a different set of layers with the blob brush tool to colour in the lines. I think this shows my skills in digital illustration successfully because it shows I can use digital software to create original characters such as these that often turn out really successful as in the end my client really appreciated and enjoyed the piece.
This piece was inspired by the festivities of the Chinese New Year and oriental culture in general. I have always taken an interest in cultures such as japan, and it is one of my greatest influences in terms of digital design and animation, taking inspiration from Japanese cartoons and pop culture. I drew this lucky cat in what I would describe as my own style. My drawing style consists of curves, soft edges, and a simple but cute aesthetic, and I take this initiative in a lot of work that isn’t inspired by an outside source or other styles. For this piece I used a combination of a graphics tablet and my mouse. I used Illustrator and Photoshop as a pair, I did this for the soul purpose of experimentation and being able to have a good end layout for the piece. In illustrator I drew lines which were never straight, used the brush tool and made the lines medium thickness, but not too thick so the design stood out as it would be the only thing on the page. I had to include the Japanese script that is written near every lucky cat ornament, I did this the same way I designed the cat. When I took the design into Photoshop I set up a 500:500 millimetre document using a deep red coloured background, to fit with the white or gold of the lucky cat design. I placed the design as a smart object, before selecting the whole object and experimenting with different colours. I think this design is a good reflection of my personal style and came out incredibly successful in the end. I also enjoy the fact that I tried to branch out and take my own interpretation of a culture unfamiliar to me, and gave my own twist to the concept, whilst doing it successfully.
My final piece was my rendition of an app or game title screen for a project we did last year on the 90's American thriller program, Twin Peaks. I wanted to try and experiment with textures and a new way to illustrate. I wanted to step away from my soft and simple style in order to create a successful app prototype that could contrast from my usual style but also correspond with the theme of Twin Peaks. For this piece I started with an A4 document setting up different shapes in Illustrator by looking at one of the scenes in Twin Peaks and sticking to the highway scenery with mountains in the background, and a logo I had previously created which I added later on. Once the shape document was set up, I went on the hunt for free texture resources. This includes lightning paint brushes, gravel images, stone images, and wood textures. I got the textures and then uploaded the Illustrator file to Photoshop as well as all of the textures and importing the brushes. I used the layer mask tool to crop the textures around the shapes, and then fiddled with the adjustment layers and filters to try and produce the best quality effect possible. I did this for all of the shape layers and then added the lightning brush effect for a gloomier atmosphere. I then finished the title screen with the text, and including a little plank of wood with the words play on them, as I was trying to replicate a game and in my opinion I did this very successfully. With all these techniques, I believe I was able to achieve a very convincing game title screen, which included an incredibly well thought out idea that when brought all together, was very original, interesting and unique, and I believe the execution on this piece was to a high standard.