As human attention spans shrink, infographic illustration has become a powerful way to convey information visually.
But what differentiates an average infographic from a memorable one? It may seem obvious, but illustrations such as icons and graphics go a long way.
Illustrations enhance an infographic by making complex information easier to understand and creating emotional responses.
In this post, I’ll explain what illustrations mean in an infographic, review the different types of illustrations you can use, and provide design tips to help you create infographic illustrations in no time.
Let’s dive in!
Click to jump ahead:
- What is an infographic illustration?
- Why you should use illustrations in infographics
- Exploring the types of infographic illustrations
- Illustration design tips
What are infographic illustrations?
In the traditional sense, illustrations are drawings made by hand, but digital illustrations are much more common in today’s online world.
Before moving further, I’ll clear up some confusion on infographics vs illustrations.
An illustration is a visual element used to strengthen a message or idea.
An infographic uses illustrations to communicate complex data in a visually enticing way.
As you can see, several illustrations are featured in this infographic.
At the top is a graphic of pediatric doctors surrounded by icons of items you can find in any clinic.
The columns in the middle also use icons to reinforce the text.
Now imagine the same infographic without illustrations. It’d be dry, dull, and hard to understand.
Illustrations work for any type of infographic, so use them as you see fit.
Why use illustrations in infographics
To answer this question, I’ll first explain why infographics are effective.
Infographics work because humans are visual beings since our brains process images faster than text.
Using illustrations to make a beautiful infographic is natural since they elevate your likelihood of creating outstanding content.
Here are the benefits of illustrations in infographics:
- Better engagement
Illustrations can separate or help summarize blocks of text. Both factors make the flow of information easier to process.
It’s easier to make bland topics fun and increase engagement.
For example, a medical illustration infographic can explain the function of a heart in a few steps.
- Improved comprehension
Illustrations provide context to the information being presented.
Why is this internet illustration infographic so compelling?
It summarizes the launch of critical features over Facebook’s history with icons. If readers want more information, they can read the accompanying text.
But graphics work too. For example, an illustration of a city skyline can visually communicate urbanization or population density.
A well-designed illustration can make an infographic memorable and help readers retain the information.
This leads to better retention and information recall.
The family illustration infographic above is memorable because it shares gift ideas as text and illustrations for quick scannability.
It also ends with a question to add emotional appeal.
- Branding opportunities
Illustrations can reinforce a brand’s identity and create a consistent look across all marketing materials.
Company logos are a great way to make an infographic instantly more recognizable.
- Emotional Appeal
Illustrations can evoke emotions and create a connection with the viewer.
This can be effective when presenting social or environmental issues where an emotional response can lead to action or support.
It also works well for educational illustration infographics like this one.
Who wouldn’t share this infographic or return to it repeatedly?
- Adds creativity
Illustrations can be customized and adapted to fit different data types and information.
Don’t be afraid to be creative and play around with your illustrations.
A map of the country’s top 10 donut-consuming cities represented by donuts? Who wouldn’t want to share this infographic?
Illustrations enhance communication and make great additions to any infographic. However, you must learn how to use them effectively.
Exploring the types of illustrations in infographics
You don’t want to spam infographics blindly.
To learn how to use illustrations in infographics, I’ll first explain the different types of illustration options available.
Icons are visual elements that convey an idea. They can take on various forms, such as graphics, images, or logos.
In the infographic above, logos of social platforms make it easy for readers to digest information. One glance is enough to get the key message.
Icons often represent a real thing. For example, a shopping cart describes consumers or the sale of a product.
- Data visualizations
Visualizations are used in infographic illustrations to help bring complex data to life.
I’m sure you’ve seen infographics with charts, graphs, maps, diagrams, and other visual representations of quantitative or qualitative data.
The bar chart above breaks down monthly expenses. Notice the use of icons below each factor.
A good infographic often uses multiple visual tools to create something compelling that engages readers.
- Line charts
Bar graphs aren’t the only data visualization option available.
You can jazz up infographics with lines, pies, bubbles, mixed charts, and more.
A line chart shows data as multiple points connected by straight lines.
- Pie charts
Pie charts are the way to go to compare a few data points.
They are especially effective when you need to share data as percentages.
- Bubble charts
Bubble chart illustrations let you present data with multiple variables or compare clusters of information.
Map illustrations help bring spatial data or information that features a geographical area or location to life.
Maps in infographics can visualize facts ranging from population density to climate patterns.
Flowcharts depict the steps of a process or system.
You’ll notice the use of shapes and arrows to guide the flow of information often. Illustrations help augment this type of visual separation.
Flowcharts like the one above are great for sharing company strategy. Again, what makes it a good infographic is using icons at each transition point to convey the main message.
Timelines show events that have happened at different points in time.
These illustrations can be used to visualize historical events, migration patterns, trade routes, or any other data that involves time.
Best practices for creating illustrations
I’m sure many of you are trying to spice up your infographics with illustrations.
But you might be hesitant or shy because you aren’t artistic.
The good news is that you can make an infographic with illustrations quickly.
Venngage’s Infographic Maker lets you create engaging infographics from various infographic templates.
The tool is free, but some templates may require a monthly fee.
Otherwise, Venngage’s drag-and-drop makes adding, removing, and swapping elements easy.
Want to change the icon in an infographic template? Just select your icon and click replace.
You will get a prompt to search for icons relevant to your infographic.
Venngage will maintain the dimensions of the original icon, so you don’t need to worry about layout or disruptions to design.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect with Infographic Maker:
- Thousands of infographic templates
- Royalty-free stock images and illustrations
- Customizable icons
- Branding options with My Brand Kit (paid plan)
Now that you’re ready to start creating infographic illustrations, it’s time to choose a layout and get started.
Here are some infographic design principles to follow:
- Keep it simple
A great infographic only communicates one or a few key ideas.
Your illustrations should always be focused on reinforcing those ideas.
This does not mean you can’t use multiple illustrations in an infographic. You can use as many as you prefer, but they should not create clutter.
Also, ensure your illustrations make sense in the grand scheme of the infographic’s message.
Notice how this infographic has multiple illustrations?
Yet, they aren’t intrusive but complement the content and help reinforce each point.
Besides illustrations, choosing fonts for your text is important too.
When selecting a font, test it first to see if it is legible. Fonts should be large enough to read comfortably – even from a distance.
- Choose the right colors
Illustrations that use too many colors are distracting.
Your illustrations should only feature a few colors that complement or contrast to create a visual flow.
Notice how the infographic only has three colors?
The white and golden yellow creates a nice contrast that visually guides readers from one point to the next.
Meanwhile, blue is reused throughout the infographic, including in icons and illustrations to reinforce visual consistency.
As a brand, you may already have a color scheme. Venngage lets you save your brand colors in the My Brand Kit feature.
Upload your company colors once and apply them to any infographic with the click of a button.
- Use visual hierarchy
Illustrations should present information logically.
Establishing a visual hierarchy guides the viewer through the information and improves retention.
One way to do this is with headings and subheadings to separate information and simplify scanning.
- Stay on topic
Lastly, ensure illustrations don’t deviate from the main point of an infographic.
This will make sure readers understand the purpose of your infographic.
Creating infographics is a time-intensive process. You’ve got to worry about design, illustrations, and the actual content.
But tools like Venngage let the software handle infographic illustration. This means you have more time to refine what you want to present and stand out.