Best Illustration Practices: The Client Edition

Kristina Lakeway
Kristina Lakeway
- 3 min read

There are a lot of things to take into consideration when creating an illustration for a client, and no, it’s not just colors and images. When creating an illustration, I have to strike a balance between accommodating the client’s needs and wants while sticking to their brand identity, and designing something that is visually appealing. Want to learn more about what goes into great illustration, while making sure the client’s needs are being met? You’re in the right place.

Know Your Sh*t

Like with any project, you begin by understanding who your client is and who their audience is. It’s always tempting to start sketching out ideas right off the bat, but don’t give into that temptation. Know what your client does, know what market they belong to, and understand what goals they are trying to achieve. Doing solid research gives you a good starting point from where your awesome illustrations can emerge.

Design For Where the Illustration Will End Up Living

What happens when an illustration isn’t designed for its location. Illustration by Kristina

Be conscious of what your client intends to do with your illustration once you give it to him or her.

If it is for print, there are a few things to be mindful of:
  • Not all printers are created equal. You are going to see variation in what a low-quality printer versus a high-quality printer can push out in terms of print quality and range of colors. Take the time to educate your client on what he or she can expect when they go to a print shop, and make your recommendations.
  • Does your illustration need to be seen across a room?
  • How will people interact with your illustration? Do they need to interact with it at all?
If it is for the internet, there are a few things to be mindful of:
  • Will people be interacting it? Will it dance, or link off to another page on a website?
  • Will there be text placed over top of it? Or placed next to it?
  • How will it resize as the browser scales up or down?

The Client Isn’t Always Right

Still think flashy is always better? Illustration by Kristina

Sure, your client may say that they “need” something sparkly and super awesome, but that doesn’t mean that is what they truly need. As a designer, you have to help your client differentiate between what is appropriate for their business and identity and what is not. Sometimes, something that is flashy and over-the-top might not be as effective as something that is simple and functional.

Presenting One Really Good Idea Versus Many Sorta-Okay Ideas

Don’t show your client every possible route you can take the illustration. Zero in on one really solid idea, then refine it until it becomes the best it can be.

Package Your Illustration With Future Designers In Mind

Illustrations ready for the next designer! Illustration by Kristina

Don’t skimp on giving your client the appropriate formats, whether it be .EPS, .AI, .SVG, .PNG, or .JPEG. Nothing is quite as disheartening as finding out your client only has a low-res jpeg of an illustration that they commissioned from another designer, and that you have to be the one to work with that said jpeg.

Crafting illustrations involves a lot more heavy work than people normally think. The more you can saturate your design with the client’s needs and wants, the more successful your illustration will be. Have more questions about what makes a good illustration, or want to get started on a project? Contact us today!

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