You see art around you all the time. But did you know that illustration is a type of art with a two-fold purpose? First and foremost, an illustration tells a story, represents an idea, relays a message, and delivers information. Second, it shows something interesting and engaging. From vintage to modern 3D illustrations, every style has its own vibe and influence. Whether you are a business owner needing illustrations or an aspiring illustrator, these 11 illustration styles will help you get started.

1. Vintage and Retro

illustration style example


The styles from the early 1900s to the 90s inspire vintage and retro illustration styles. Malika Favre is a world-renowned artist who uses retro-style illustrations. She describes her works as “Pop Art meets OpArt.” Her designs have the unique appeal of the 60s that meet contemporary minimalism, creating excellent retro-inspired graphics. 

If you want to build a portfolio of clients, looking into vintage and retro illustration styles can be a good motivation.

2. Realism

illustration style example


Realism is a mid-nineteenth-century art movement with subjects from everyday life painted in a naturalistic manner. The term also refers to artworks painted in an almost photographic way. Realism has become a popular style in modern digital arts. The style ranges from stylized subjects representing reality to hyperrealism and photorealism.

Realism illustrates the human form as closely as possible. Artists aim to capture reality through immense detail and a clear portrayal of emotion. The accuracy in the overall artistic composition completes the realism illustration style. The self-portrait of Sir Stanley Spencer exemplifies the modern realism illustration style.

3. Fantasy Illustration 

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Let’s move to an enchanting and magical illustration style. Fantasy illustration is inspired by stories depicting supernatural characters and scenes. Most fantasy illustrations are dark and action-packed, depicting a mythical creature. The detailed design shows the outstanding skills of imaginative illustrators. In addition, the depth of detail matches moody atmospheres and immerses the viewer in another world. 

4. Comic Book Illustration

illustration style example

Source: markbrooksart IG

Many artists draw inspiration from traditional comic books to improve illustration style, story, and character creation. The layout structure of humorous stories helps illustrators imagine every part of the story. That said, creative thinking becomes a good challenge for every artist. The image above, for example, illustrates the famous graphic novel “The Sandman,” by Neil Gaiman.

Do you dream of becoming a talented comic illustrator and working for brands like Marvel or DC Comics? In that case, you must learn how to express ideas, stories, situations, and characters very clearly. Comic illustration can be a lucrative career that pays between $36,409 and $52,803.

5. Fashion Illustration Style

illustration style example

Source: Nadia Coolrista IG

Fashion illustrations originated from the need for quick sketches of the artists, highlighting how clothes will look on models. This kind of illustration is created with rough lines and aesthetics. 

Fashion design illustrations strongly influence attitude, culture, and couture. While fashion designers commonly use it, this illustration type has inspired artists to bring the aesthetic into their designs.

6. Line Art 

illustration style example

Source: Rupi Kaur IG

Rupi Kaur is known on Instagram for her poetry. She illustrates her poems with simple yet meaningful line drawings. Simplicity is a compelling element in creating beauty through this illustration style. Today, line art has become increasingly popular on social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram.

Line art is a good form of communicating ideas in a gentle atmosphere. While most line art is black and white, some artists love a pop of color. 

7. Children’s Book Illustration 

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Here’s an inspiring digital illustration by Vashti Harrison for a children’s book entitled “Sulwe” by Lupita Nyong’o. This fantastic collaborative project between two feminist artists resulted in an exciting topic of representation.

Every children’s book illustrator has a unique style, broadening this category that can’t be simplified into one exact type. Some of its key features are rendered in vibrant color, defined movement, and emotion.

This illustration style relies on a definite theme to tell a story. Vivid patterns and colors are also present to keep children engaged in the story.

8. Caricature

illustration style example

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You might know some artists who create caricature-style art of ordinary people in the street or during festivals and fairs. A caricature is a cartoon wherein a character’s specific features are exaggerated to convey what the illustration communicates. Some political illustrators use caricature drawings to make fun of or criticize leaders and scenarios. This form of painting is usually defined by humor.

9. Psychedelic Illustration

While this could be categorized as retro due to its 60s and 70s aesthetic and vibe, psychedelic illustration deserves a unique identity. It features exceptionally vibrant colors, a combination of varied patterns, and surreal sensibility. 

Chris Dyer is a skilled illustrator and street artist who utilizes psychedelic style in his drawings. Check out how colorful he communicates his message through the sample illustration above. 

10. Flat Illustration Style

illustration style example

Source: janiolka_k IG

This popular type of illustration consists of flat, 2D visual details in contrast to detailed 3D graphics. Instead, illustrators employing this style use interesting ideas and movement to give the images more life. The flat illustration trend became famous in 2020 and is here to stay. Brands rave about flat illustrations in their visual communication for apps, websites, editorial images, and beyond.

11. 3D Illustration 

illustration style example

The 3D illustration uses depth to make the contents of the image look three-dimensional. 3D is becoming increasingly popular in product development, home design, and virtual reality (VR). It is an excellent way to understand exactly how something might look and can bring an ordinary illustration to life. The sample graphics above is one of the many beautiful 3D illustrations created by Penji. 

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Graphic design illustrations can be a powerful tool to help bring your ideas to life. With the right artist, you can create stunning visuals that capture the attention of your target audience. In case you haven’t heard of Penji, we’re a team of talented artists worldwide. Our company works with several businesses and individuals seeking unlimited graphic design services. Sign up here and enjoy a 30-day risk-free trial.

With a subscription to Penji, you get stunning custom visuals that help you stand out from the competition and make a lasting impression.