An illustration is an image or decoration created to enhance
the appearance of written material or to clarify its meaning.
Illustrators create images for books, magazines, reports,
CD cases, greeting cards, and advertisements. Many collected
and exhibited artworks were created as illustrations. Examples
include the Limbourg brothers' exquisite scenes from the Les
Tres Riches Heures and many artists' intricate imaginings
of religious episodes.
Some of the most elaborate and sumptuous illustrations ever
made were hand painted, however, modern illustration has evolved
in conjunction with the development of printing processes.
Nineteenth century illustration usually required the insertion
of a plate into the block of raised type (letters) that served
as text. The plate, prepared by lithography, engraving, or
etching, was inked and printed. The resulting page was then
bound with the other pages of the text. Recent photomechanical
reproduction processes have enabled illustrators to employ
drawing, painting, and photographic techniques--with computers
further extending the capabilities of illustrators. Although
most illustration is now done with photography, some areas--notably
children's books, fashion illustration, and greeting cards--continue
to rely on drawn or painted images.
The distinction between illustrations and art displayed in
galleries and museums has to do with the purpose the work
is intended to serve, rather than the medium in which the
work is made, since both illustrations and gallery art can
be drawings, paintings, or photographs.
The tight deadlines and throwaway nature of daily newspapers
provide a different kind of environment for illustrators.
To labor over a time-consuming oil painting is out of the
question, but a resourceful and imaginative artist can create
an eye-catching image through less labor-intensive means.
Some illustrators use collage to create a lighthearted and
witty accompaniment to a newspaper article.
Furthermore, a poster can attract attention and convey its
message; it is a concise visual announcement that provides
information through the integrated design of typographic and
pictorial imagery. The creativity of a poster designer/illustrator
is directed toward a specific purpose, which may be to advise
or to persuade. While they now play a lesser role than they
once did, well-designed posters still provide powerful means
of instant communication. Posters of all sorts have become
so popular as inexpensive images to be framed and hung on
walls that printing and selling posters have become big business.
Poster design has influenced and been influenced by contemporary
fine art; the work of well known poster designers, demonstrates
the close link that often exists between graphic design and
current developments in art.
Designers in recent years often use an offhand, low-key approach
that does not seem very 'designed' at all, many are wary of
too-elaborate design ideas. Surprisingly, many well known
illustrators believe that illustrations should be secondary
to the text. However, when illustration is at its finest,
images and text become inseparable.