With more and more content available in the palm of our hands, there’s a change happening to the “full-page” illustration. It’s still filling the page — it’s just that the size of the page is shrinking — and fast.
As newspapers find their way online and magazines reformat to work on tablets and mobile phones, the need for dynamic images and illustrations will only increase — even as prices decrease. This hasn’t been welcoming news for the millions of artists who create those thought-provoking illustrations that visualize the story in a way no other medium can quite match. But while some creatives lament the loss of the large format magazine or broadsheet, it could well be that the digital age offers creatives a much better payoff — the ability to get on more screens and create a following.
A full-page newspaper illustration used to pay great money, but large-circulation metros really only delivered state or regional coverage. A great smartly-rendered illustration concept for an online entity can reach millions if the article is well-received — and even more people if the illustration is something that catches people’s eye, mind, or funny bone.
That means we illustrators will have to put more time into our concepts and make them “visually concise” or clever, and easy to “get” at first glance. This is something we’ve always done — now we must consider the screen size when we can — and take a few things into account when we’re drawing.
» Not all screens are made equal. Lots of creatives work on a Mac, but most of the folks reading online are reading on PCs or even on Android devices. Create a simple color palate and style — then stick to it for an illustration that will really establish your style and “tone”.
» Keep file sizes small. The smaller your files, the better chance you won’t have an intern shrinking it down on the other size and taking away clarity. PNGs and JPEGs can be your best friends.
» Think about illustrations in series or as parts of collections. If they like the style, they’ll keep coming back and you can start getting your illustration footprint online.
» Lastly, as soon as something gets published or used online, make sure to post the work on your Artbox pages or blog (and link to the article). This way, people can come across your work in different ways and you really start to use the web as it’s intended.
By planning your work for smaller, tighter reading/viewing experiences, you’ll start the process of making it big with small illustrations on the web.