Is it still an “illustration”?



  • Here’s a tiny illustration I did on some scrap paper. It’s only about 1.5x1.5 inches. I might work it up bigger later on.
    I’m constantly working on trees, because they’re magical (obviously) and they are central in the story I’m writing for my kids. But, sometimes I get the impression that an illustration isn’t an illustration if it doesn't have a character in it. This may be a silly question. I don’t know.
    What say you all? Without the context, it might be difficult, but in my story, the trees are more than trees... is this kind of thing acceptable or would I have to put someone in it? 0_1526751502013_8B988B9D-8B60-4CD8-B6CE-3CAB40EA7ED1.jpeg



  • It's still absolutely an illustration! (and it is gorgeous and lovely and magical :) )



  • @pamela-fraley I would say it is an illustration and it is lovely



  • @dottyp @Eli Thank you! Too bad its so tiny. :) But I really do want to rework it. I think I just get confused by all the information sometimes, and start wondering where the line is that makes a piece an illustration.



  • @pamela-fraley I've had that question too especially when illustrations get close to photo realistic or are very painterly. Maybe the definition is simply that an illustration is accompanied by something else (which it is illustrating) whereas a sketch or painting that stands on its own is not an illustration.... yet, at least. I'm curious though to hear how others define it.



  • @Pamela-Fraley @demotlj

    I don't think illustrations necessarily have to accompany or be a part of a larger project. Illustrations can stand alone. I'd say the only real criteria is some narrative quality, but even that can be blurred a bit. There is definitely a large gray area between Illustration & fine art where things seem to be both to some degree. Some pieces are no question one or the other, and some might fit both.

    Also if a portrait of someone's face can be an illustration, then why not a "portrait" of trees or a forest. Still lifes can be illustration. Landscapes can be illustration.

    Before the rise of photography, it was common for illustrators to paint photorealistic products for advertisements, etc and those were definitely illustrations. People still do that today.

    I'd say that the primary thing is a narrative aspect whether it is blatant like, "The little girl in the red Hood picks flowers as the wolf stalks behind" or just trying to capture a feeling. Illustration is a commercial art focused on a technical artistic skills used to solve a problem. It's on the spectrum between design and fine art for sure.

    Also, lots of the paintings of the Old Masters contain the same aspects of Illustration of today that we admire, but they aren't considered illustrations.

    TL;DR You decide. I'd say yes it is.



  • Could one see this in an illustrated book? Absolutely. " The forest beckoned..." "The woods are lovely, dark, and deep..." "Her path was through the trees" Well, you get the idea! I've seen plenty of illustrations without characters.