The Benefits Of Flat And Volume Based Illustration

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To find the right illustrator for your project it helps to know what you’re looking for. Luckily there are some ways to index the spectrum of contemporary illustration. One of them is how mass is depicted; in other words, do the images appear flat, or do they have volume. Both types of artwork have their advantages, and knowing each will benefit your project when finding an illustrator.

The Benefits of Flat Illustration

It is often desirable to give illustrations the flat look. Keeping an image flat suspends the need to describe volume accurately, so that objects can be simplified and shown stylistically. This can be a useful way of focusing the viewer on the important idea. Eye-catching flat compositions have been commonplace in poster design for years, largely because this helps with the quick reading of an image. When using this approach, subjects are most often shown from the front, side profile, and topside, to avoid the complexity of 3D perspective. Flat illustrations are often easy to adapt online and in print. They are typically seen in infographics, icon design, editorial design and lend themselves to simple animation.

Illustration by Jean Julien

Jean Julien focuses the viewer on the idea with his flat, hand drawn approach.

Illustration by Owen Davey

Owen Davey suggests directional light in this aerial view.

Illustration by Alan Dalby

Alan Dalby simplifies perspective in this textured illustration.

Illustration by Stan Chow

Stan Chow’s flat portraits emphasise the most characteristic facial features.

The Benefits of Creating Volume

Illustrations with volume show mass in three-dimensional space. The most characteristic techniques that can be found are perspective, foreshortening, and usually more emphasis on overlapping and lighting. This approach depicts things spatially, often with the viewer’s POV in mind to evoke the right mood. Artwork with volume engages our perception of depth. Character design, portraiture, sports illustration, and story boarding are all typically interested in volume.

Illustration by Aaron Horkey

Many subtle details enhance the volume in Aaron Horkey’s artwork.

Illustration by Vasili Zorin

Great use of perspective and overlapping in this illustration by Vasili Zorin

Illustration by Sainer

Muralist and Painter, Sainer, makes his mark with elegant use of volume.

Illustration by Pascal Blanche

Senior Art Director and Illustrator, Pascal Blanche, brings together depth and volume to create compelling fantasy art.

By knowing how you’d like mass to be depicted, finding a suitable illustrator is made easier. Column Arts Agency helps our clients by suggesting the right illustrators for the job. If you’d like to chat about a commission you have in mind, feel free to email us.

MrHass is a Manchester based illustrator represented by Column Arts Agency. He specialises in hand drawn artwork made with dip pen and ink.

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Luckily there are some ways to index the vast range of contemporary illustration. One of them is how mass is depicted.


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