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Illustrations are Stealing the Show!


Although stock image sites provide high-quality images and vectors that are an excellent resource, there is something significant, raw, and beautiful when it comes to custom digital illustrations and digital paintings. In my opinion, it makes you linger. If there is one thing that is going to make you stand out that no one else will have, it is a custom illustration. However,illustration is by no means a quick and easy process. This skill goes beyond the mere request of “Draw me a picture.” No, it is much more than that. The process involves thorough research/inspiration, sketching, and a meticulous end goal of putting it all together.

I’m sure you’re wondering “Well illustrations are just pictures, how could they possibly be that time consuming or help my business?” In this post, I am not only going to explain the typical process an illustrator may take, but I will show you how a couple of my all-time favorite Illustrations effectively used in a variety of applications.

Illustration Everywhere!

Illustrations can be used for a variety of mediums. These include, but are not limited to, book covers, product packaging, posters, flyers, billboards, web graphics, and more!

Book Covers

book cover

Work by Steve Simpson (View this work’s sketch process)

Illustrations are my favorite kind of eye candy. Take a look at Steve Simpson’s book cover illustration above. Try to imagine this book cover with photography imagery. It is pretty difficult considering how well this illustration is done. Simpson combines the perfect amount of texture and detail alongside a harmonious color palette. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but how could you not want to read this book based solely on its cover?



Work by Steve Simpson (View this work’s sketch process)

hot sauce

Work by Steve Simpson (View this work’s sketch process)

Another set of Steve Simpson masterpieces. These illustrations are not only appealing to the eye, but very unique. These are two key features you need for you product to stand out amongst your competitors. We’ve all strolled down the aisle in the supermarket with the wall of BBQ sauces. Personally, I don’t think I have ever seen a BBQ sauce label design that’s jumped out at me quite like Steve Simpson’s design. I don’t even like BBQ (Don’t judge!,) and I would buy a bottle.



Illustration by Tom Whalen


Illustration Source – Oreo

Since the beginning of design illustrations have most commonly been used on posters. This is no surprise as posters use minimal text. This is the perfect medium to create large detailed illustrations. A couple years back Target had a very unique poster created by one of my favorite illustrators, Tom Whalen. He created a whimsical landscape using the iconic Target dog and company colors, while also incorporating the events sponsors. This is very well done as the sponsors are featured in a way that works with the whimsical layout without appearing tacky (as often happens with product placement). Oreo also created a whimsical campaign called Wonderfilled, featuring fun imaginative illustrations on posters, billboards, magazine ads and more. Check out the entire wonderfilled campaign.

Time and Skill

Now that we have seen a variety of different mediums that utilize well developed illustration and concepts, let’s take an even closer look. How long does something like this take? What all is involved? Let’s make this a game. I will going to show you one of my illustrations I created for a non-profit. How long would you estimate it would take to complete the illustration?

lauren hodges illustration

Did you guess? Did you think four hours? Eight hours? If you did, you would be wrong. This illustration took me 16 hours to create. Did I blow your mind? How could this take so long? A common overlook when it comes to illustration is the research, brainstorming, and thumbnailing part of the illustration process. In my opinion, these are the most important stages. Although some illustrators are able to work on the fly, most start with thorough research at the beginning of every project. So, what does this look like? With playback sped up to 2500%, I have created a process video of my illustration above that will show you some of my process for creating this illustration. Keep in mind, I did not even start recording until I started texturing in Photoshop.

Need a custom illustration for a special project? Take a look at my past work!

lauren hodges ray gun lauren hodges theater resume

lauren hodges elsa disney

lauren hodges little birdy

Take a look at some of my past work and check out all of the stockings that I illustrated for Red Sage’s Christmas campaign last year.

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