Types of Illustrations

An illustration is the interpretation in a form of sketch, painting, photograph, computer generated imagery or any other art work, which is created to demonstrate or dictate sensual information from an essay, poem, story or a newspaper article. The concept of illustration goes way back in time when prehistoric cave paintings of ape man and animals were found on the cave walls and ceilings. With the passage of time, illustrations took different forms and techniques. Earlier somewhere around in 15th century, books were illustrated with woodcut illustration whereas engraving and etching later took over the former illustration technique after a century or two. Let us briefly walk-through some of the classical, yet well known types of illustration techniques.

Woodcut illustration – woodcut, sometimes also known as xylography is a technique in which an image is engraved or imprinted into the surface of the wooden block. Then this wooden block is dipped into an ink or colour and is pressed onto the pages of the book to print the illustrations. The technique of woodcut was developed in somewhere in Europe in the 15th century.

Engraving illustration – engraving is the technique of incising (carving) an illustration or design onto a hard flat surface such as stone or a metal plate. Although this technique is as old as middle stone age, it is still in use today. During stone age there were stone engraving in the caves, but today goldsmith uses this technique to engrave illustration on jewellery and other precious artefact.

Etching – etching is the late 15th or early 16th century technique used in illustration. It is a process where strong acid is used to cut unshielded parts of the metal surface to create illustration in the metal. Although, nowadays this technique is not only limited to metals but also glass surfaces and is used widely.

Pen/brush and ink illustration – it is the widely used technique where an illustrator uses pen and ink or brush and colours to create a visual representation or an illustration of any writing. With this technique the illustrator clarifies the objects or concepts that are difficult to explain or describe textually.

These were the types of illustration which were discovered way back in time. The techniques of illustration are always getting better and better. Now, illustrations are created with the help of computer software applications. They too have evolved into two dimensional (2d) and three dimensional (3d) illustrations. These CGI (computer generated imagery) illustrations then can be used TV advertisement, video games, movies and even to highlight company’s services and products that are otherwise difficult to describe with texts.

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