Modern Illustration vs. Traditional Illustration

There is no denying that technology has changed the world and changed the way we conduct our personal and professional lives. Digital technology and computers have changed the way we communicate, live and work. Just like other businesses, the illustration industry has also undergone radical changes in the past decade due to technological advances. Illustrators have had to rethink traditional practices, reinvent themselves and employ new working methodologies in order to stay relevant in the contemporary illustration industry.

Traditional Illustration Methods

Traditional methods of illustrations require a lot of investment in terms of time and efforts. Mastering these skills takes years and maintenance of traditional illustration tools like paints, pens, colors and pigments is an expensive proposition. Moreover, the maximum output using traditional methods is three illustrations per day, far less than that achieved using digital illustration tools. Although mechanical versions of some traditional tools like airbrushes have been introduced, these have neither sped up the illustration process nor provided high definition and precision of modern illustration tools. Not surprisingly, modernization of the illustration industry ensured that the days of traditional illustration tools were used but rarely.

Modern Illustration Methods

The advent of personal computers and the increased functionality of illustration software like Adobe saw the dawn of a new era in the age-old industry. “Illustrator 88” was the first version of Adobe launched in 1988. Until that time most of the illustration projects were “out-house” work. Thereafter, every designing firm in the US and the UK shifted their illustration work from outside the office to inside. Meanwhile, the artists and illustrators started moving out of offices and working from home because of the flexibility and mobility afforded by the new technology. Soon, becoming a freelance illustrator became the order of the day. As long as the illustration work was professional and produced to the deadline, this new arrangement worked well for everyone.

However, the days of traditional illustrations are far from over.  After falling out of favor for long, traditional images made the traditional way are staging a comeback. Many illustrators are utilizing both digital media and traditional tools to create images which have garnered much appreciation as a unique art-form. As of now, there seems to be space for both schools of illustration within and outside the industry.

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