Sunday, 18 December 2011

Illustrations Digital Future

Throughout my time at uni studying illustration, its become more and more apparent that when we graduate, there is a good chance our work or illustrations could be used for digital output, possibly even more so than in print.
With the invention of new technology such as smart phones, ipads, and most people owning computers and using the internet everyday, there seems to be a shift in the ways that illustrations can be created and applied.
Firstly, new software for pcs and macs means that digital illustrations can be created quickly and therefore more cheaply, but they can also be created in the style of more traditional methods. The work of Matthew Lyons for example is created completely digitally with custom brushes and textures to give it a more hand made feel. It makes editing and amendments much easier if working digitally, as well as it already being in a format to send over to a client. Vector illustrations in particular provide greater scope for use as they can be resized bigger or smaller without losing quality.
Although there seems to have been an increase of people going back to handmade methods of creating illustrations by painting, print-making, papercutting etc, these inevitably will have to be scanned in or recreated into a digital format to send to clients in most cases. Email seems to have taken preference over phone calls, and also over sending hard copies in the post, as its just quicker and easier. So even if illustrators work by hand, there would rarely be a time when a computer in some form wouldn't make an appearance during a project. There is a really interesting article here in computer arts about the digital revolution due to software that is worth a look.

In terms of application of illustration, computers and the internet have provided lots of different outlets for work rather than print. Apps, digital magazines (webzines), websites and animations have created more outlets for illustration, whereas the opportunities in print seemed to have decreased, especially in a hard economy.
For example, I recently saw this video about how artist Raghava KK used the ipad to create in interactive children's book  that can be shaken to change up the characters!


There is a list here of children's e-books compiled by The New York Times, that is worth a look. 

There are opportunities in web design too, where illustrators are being used to create interesting artwork, and moving animated artwork for use on websites. I recently saw a piece of work by one of my favourite illustrators, Dan Matutina, where he created and designed a website for Revolver Studios. It required moving elements as well as backgrounds that also have small moving elements to them. (Check out the oil spray and UFO) So i think this is another way that illustrators are being asked to work more like designers, and to apply their skills more broadly across different areas rather just static images. 

The Internet has also provided opportunities for illustrators to show their work and find work. Things like twitter and facebook means that illustrators can network ore easily and get their work shown all over the world. Free portfolio sites that have their own networks such as Behance and Dribbble again provide opportunities to share work, as well as personal websites and blogs of course. So in that respect, I think that the internet can be helpful to illustrators.

Overall I think that illustrations digital future is probably a very rich one and provides many opportunities. Difficulties may arise for illustrators who work more traditionally perhaps, as the amount of print decreases. Also, if illustrators don't have any animation or digital skills on photoshop or illustrator for example, it may be difficult to get jobs when competing with people who can create, animate and design for digital output. Gaining some digital and animation might have to be the way to go for most illustrators,...I guess time will tell.

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