10 Illustration Trends for 2016

Illustration trends you won’t want to miss

Illustration has a wonderfully handcrafted feel that can give any product a relatable, human touch. The skill needed to draw custom images also adds a sense of value and finesse to a design. Hand-drawn illustration is unique and is a universal medium that can be understood worldwide; a way to communicate without being hindered by language barriers. This year, people have fallen out of love with mass-produced images and are hankering after original, bespoke drawings. Illustration personalises your design in a way that stock images and ready-made fonts simply cannot. Right now, everywhere you look, you’ll see quirky illustrations on labels, brands and even in video. To help you keep your drawings looking sharp and fresh we have put together some of the hottest illustration trends to watch out for in 2016.

In this creative age, it is getting harder to get your work noticed. Custom illustrations provide designers with the perfect opportunity to create something special and distinct. Designers and clients are always seeking out that special something that will add a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’ to a brand. Below are 10 of the ways you can showcase your illustration skills this year.

  1. Modern Family / Merged Mediums

Illustration trends / merged mediums

Why choose between photography and illustration when you can have the best of both worlds? The most exciting new illustration trend for 2016 is ‘merging mediums’. Like any modern family, these two mediums blend together beautifully to create unique images with a modern twist. Often you will see an illustration layered over a photograph. Using this method, you can create eye-catching images that will make your portfolio shine. It’s time to sharpen your pencils, dust off your lenses and hone your artistry.

  1. Flat design is here to stay

Illustration trends / flat designs

By adding a new range of colours and making use of shading, flat design is set to be rebooted this year. Expect to see more complex shapes and compositions. The flat design of yesteryear used simplified flat shapes, but now, with a clever use of shading, we can expect much more detailed designs. Getty Images has named this evolution “flat design 2.0”.

  1. Custom-illustrated letters

Illustration trends / illustrated letters with intricate detail

Free yourself from bog-standard fonts, it’s time to get experimental. Yes, hand-drawn typeface has been around for a while, but illustrators are now getting even more creative with it. Handcrafted and intricately stencilled lettering will give your design an individual look that stands out from the crowd.

  1. Moving Image

illustration trend in 2016 incorporating moving images

If you’ve ever seen Norwegian synthpop band A-ha’s 1984 “Take On Me” music video, then you’ll already know what a winning combination illustration and video can be. By incorporating illustration into video, you can breathe life into your designs. Animating your drawings opens up a new realm for your creations, so start exploring! This year we’ll see illustration becoming a central feature of all types of video, especially brand campaigns and music videos.

  1. Overhead perspectives

illustration trends / overhead perspectives

This year, get a fresh look by using one of this year’s hottest trends: the overhead perspective. By taking this high vantage point, you give the viewer that “bird’s eye view” feel. Your drawings will benefit from an intriguing atmosphere created by this unique angle, which you rarely get to see (unless of course you’re a pilot or high-rise window cleaner).


  1. Intricate doodles

Illustration trends

Think of the kinds of drawings you’d find winding around the cover of a schoolbook, or the doodles we subconsciously create while talking on the phone. These types of illustrations are usually complex, detailed and convey large amounts of information in a small space. They also have the added benefit of being universally relatable because we have all enjoyed a scribble at some point! Getty Images has reported a high demand for intricate doodles from their clients. They predict that they will see even more demand for this genre in 2016.

  1. Pixel art

Pixel Art / illustration trends in 2016

Thanks to retro games like Minecraft, pixel art is becoming increasingly popular. There is just something about that nostalgic style that makes us grin. Those adorably chunky pixels take us right back to our beloved childhood memories of Nintendo and the legendary mobile phone game, Snake. You can expect to see more pixel art in online brand and app design this year.

  1. Painted textures

Illustration trends for 2016 : adding painted textures

Taking a leaf from the fashionista’s sketchpad, painted textures will be utilised more and more this year. Swirls and swooshes of delicate watercolours can add life and an artisan element to any of your creations.

  1. Vintage print

9. Vintage Print (illustration trends)

A lesson from the masters, vintage is considered to be the classier, older sibling of retro and conjures images of Victorian elegance. This year will see an increase in vintage prints and designs. By incorporating simple colour palates and delicate drawings into your designs, you can add an air of tradition and sophistication.

  1. 3D illustration

Sample of 3D Illustration to show illustration trends in 2016

3D Illustration is going to be big this year. Thanks to its popularity in online gaming and CGI movies, it has become a familiar staple. There is now a new freedom for designers to start incorporating it into other media beyond the game world. 3D visualisations make a design feel tangible and inject it with character.

If you enjoyed this post then please let us know in the comments below! If you’d like to find out how to become a professional illustrator click here for more information. 

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