Dear Illustrator

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How to Make Illustration Project

• Looking to write a project brief with the help of essential free and paid tools? Check out this article for basic information and guidance.


Commercial illustrations are used to sell products or promote a brand, while nonprofit illustrations are used to raise awareness and educate the public about a cause. Both types of illustrations are important for communicating information and influencing public opinion, but have different goals. Commercial illustrations aim to persuade people to buy something, while nonprofit illustrations aim to inform and educate. Both types of illustrations require the ability to create visually appealing images that effectively convey a message.

Before starting to design any illustration, an illustrator should have a clear understanding of the following information from the customer:

  • The purpose of the illustration: What message or idea is the illustration meant to convey? How will it be used (e.g. print, digital, packaging)?
  • The target audience: Who is the illustration intended for? What are their demographics, interests, and preferences?
  • The style and tone of the illustration: What type of illustration is the customer looking for? (e.g. vector, raster, hand-drawn, 3D, etc.) What is the desired mood or tone of the illustration (e.g. serious, playful, whimsical, etc.)
  • The design direction: Does the customer have any specific design elements or concepts in mind? Are there any examples of existing illustrations that they like or dislike?
  • The color scheme and composition: what are the main colors that the customer wants the illustration to have, and how the composition should be.
  • The format and size: what format and size the illustration should be.
  • The deadline: When does the customer need the illustration completed? Are there any specific milestones that need to be met along the way?
  • The usage rights: How will the illustration be used, and for how long, who will own the rights of the illustration, and what are the terms of the contract.
  • The budget: What is the budget for the illustration and what are the terms of payment.
This information helps the illustrator create an illustration that meets the customer's needs and expectations.

There are many types of illustrations that can be found on the internet, including:

  1. Vector illustrations - created using software such as Adobe Illustrator, these illustrations use mathematical equations to create scalable graphics.
  2. Raster illustrations - created using software such as Adobe Photoshop, these illustrations use pixels to create images.
  3. Hand-drawn illustrations - created using traditional mediums such as pencils and paint, these illustrations can be scanned and uploaded to the internet.
  4. 3D illustrations - created using software such as Autodesk Maya or Blender, these illustrations use mathematical models to create three-dimensional graphics.

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Goals and Objectives

Do you have any specific elements in mind for your illustration? If you aren't clear here, the illustrator will be able to interpret the brief however they see fit, which may not be what you had in mind for the final output. In this case, my element description read as follows: "The book must have a strong African and South African focus and speak to both oral and written story-telling traditions. Additionally, it needs to include various media formats like books and tablets. Reading ought to be portrayed as a social activity."
You often don't get the dimensions from people. Include here any text that has to be on the illustration, any bleed requirements for printing, and whether or not the illustration will be printed in CMYK (best printing) or RGB (best for computer display). For the aforementioned example, my memo stated: "The book is 170 x 245 in size. Portrait. The title, subtitle, and author names often need to be placed within a third of the front cover. To contain all of these components, the graphic designer might need to crop or otherwise alter the cover image. The graphic designer and the publishing house will decide this at their discretion. Format: CMYK ink will be used to print the cover."

Measurable Result

When writing a creative brief for an illustration project, it is important to establish measurable results that align with the project's triple constraint of scope, time, and cost. These results should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Examples of measurable results for an illustration project include:

  • Increasing website traffic by x% within a certain period of time through the use of the illustration on the website, while adhering to the budget and project deadline
  • Achieving a certain number of social media shares or engagement within a specific period of time through the use of the illustration on social media, while meeting the project's scope and budget
  • Improving brand awareness by x% as measured by a survey before and after the introduction of the illustration, within the time frame and budget of the project
  • Increasing sales by x% within a certain period of time through the use of the illustration on packaging or in advertising, while staying within the project's scope, time and budget constraints
  • Improving customer satisfaction as measured by a survey before and after the introduction of the illustration, while adhering to the project's scope, time and budget limits

By including measurable results in the creative brief that align with the project's triple constraint of scope, time, and cost, the illustrator and the customer can have a clear understanding of the goals and objectives of the illustration project, and the success of the illustration can be evaluated based on these results.

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When crafting a creative brief for an illustration project, it's essential to provide references for the illustrator to use as inspiration and guidance. These references can include examples of existing illustrations, artwork, or visual styles that align with the desired look and feel of the project. Providing references allows the illustrator to gain a deeper understanding of the customer's vision and expectations for the project, and can help to ensure that the final product meets those expectations. It's also important to note that all new ideas are often built on the foundation of existing ones, or by combining and modifying existing concepts. By providing references, the illustrator can better understand the customer's desired direction and create an illustration that aligns with that vision.

The closer the customer's and illustrator's ideas for the project match, the greater the chance that the project will be completed successfully. By providing clear and relevant references in the creative brief, the customer can help the illustrator to understand their vision and create an illustration that exceeds expectations.

Best websites with illustration references


Setting up a budget early on will help you truly manage your money and direct your decision-making. Make sure to record precise figures and, when possible, include expenditures. It will be beneficial to conduct some brief research beforehand. Are there any strategies to reduce your expenses? You'll keep your boss happy if you allow yourself some time to fiddle with the figures before you even start the work!

There are two main ways to form a budget for an illustration project: using a fixed price or an hourly rate.

Fixed Price: In this method, the customer and illustrator agree on a set price for the entire project before work begins. This method works best when the scope of the project is well-defined and the customer has a clear idea of what they want the illustration to look like. A fixed price budget can be beneficial for the customer as it allows them to have a clear understanding of the total cost of the project, and the illustrator can plan their workload and resources accordingly.
Hourly Rate: In this method, the customer and illustrator agree on an hourly rate for the illustrator's services. The total cost of the project is determined by the number of hours worked on the project. This method works best when the scope of the project is not well-defined or when the customer wants to leave room for revisions and changes. An hourly rate budget can be beneficial for the illustrator as it allows them to charge for any additional hours they may spend on the project.

It's important to note that both methods have their pros and cons, and the choice of which one to use will depend on the specific project and the needs and preferences of the customer and the illustrator. It's also important to have a clear communication and agreement on the terms of the budget before the project starts.

Video bloggers know better

The issue of fixed price and the hourly rate
always has hot discusses on the internet

Freelancer services have a lot of workers with different skills and cost per hour for close estimation market cost:

Target Audience

Who are the final customers? Actually, this is crucial. Whom does this example need to communicate with and make sense to? Who will view and utilize it? And what should it convey to that person when they view it? My memo stated "Students studying to become teachers of children between the ages of 6 and 15 make up the captive market. Parents of children in this age group as well as pre-service teachers ought to find the image to be very appealing. The intention is for them to voluntarily choose to pick up and purchase the book."

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Messaging and Tone

Is the client upscale, supportive, amiable, tech-savvy, or down to earth? Do they want to come across as brash and powerful or approachable?
Learn more about: What shades does the customer prefer or dislike? Maybe they want to stand out from the competition, who may utilize blue and green. It's a good idea to be aware of this information beforehand because the CEO can also detest the color purple. You could wish to find out which fonts they prefer.
Think about using various serif, san serif, and script fonts. Does the customer like formal fonts that convey seriousness? Or do they like scripty, handwritten ones that convey playfulness and friendliness? Is the photography they're utilizing artistic or professional? This will assist you in determining the tone of the
Learn more about: What shades does the customer prefer or dislike? Maybe they want to stand out from the competition, who may utilize blue and green. It's a good idea to be aware of this information beforehand because the CEO can also detest the color purple. You could wish to find out which fonts they prefer.
Making a mood board is the proper approach. Although Pinterest makes it incredibly simple, you may also design a mood board on a cork or bulletin board. Grab magazine cutouts, paint store color samples, and anything else that inspires you, including scraps of cloth or postcards. Typefaces or other type treatments should be added after a color. Look for images that depict the ideal customer. Just like styling a place or putting together an outfit.


In conclusion, creating successful illustration projects requires careful consideration and attention to various factors. By understanding the purpose, target audience, style, and design direction, illustrators can effectively convey the intended message. Additionally, establishing measurable results aligned with scope, time, and cost ensures project success. Providing references for inspiration fosters a shared vision between the customer and illustrator. Budgeting, whether through a fixed price or hourly rate approach, enables effective financial management. Lastly, considering the target audience and crafting the right messaging and tone through mood boards contributes to the overall success of the project. By implementing these strategies, illustrators can deliver illustrations that exceed expectations and leave a lasting impact.

If you're looking to delve deeper into specific areas of work such as graphic design, video production, audio engineering, programming, copywriting, or marketing, you should check out the Project Briefs Categories on this website.

By exploring these categories, you'll find comprehensive briefs that provide detailed insights on approaching each type of work. They offer valuable information on recommended tools, techniques, and practical tips to excel in your chosen field. Whether you're a seasoned professional or a beginner, these briefs serve as a valuable resource, helping you enhance your skills and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices.

Nicolene Louw

llustrator and graphic recorder

I studied graphic design at the University of Pretoria and later completed my Master’s degree in illustration at the University of Stellenbosch. I am currently based in Cape Town where I work as a freelance illustrator and graphic facilitator.
I showcase my corporate and business illustrations on my website. My personal website ( is dedicated to my editorial and more traditional illustration work.

video category Video

is concerned with the creation and integration of film, motion graphics, and camera shooting feed into different fields.


graphic category Graphic

is a creative method, process and result of artistic and technical design of industrial products, their complexes and systems, focused on achieving the fullest compliance of the created objects and the environment in general to human needs, both utilitarian and aesthetic.


programming category Programming

is the process of performing a particular computation, usually by designing/building an executable computer program or web, and mobile applications. Programming involves tasks such as analysis, generating algorithms, profiling algorithms' accuracy and resource consumption, and the implementation of algorithms.


marketing category Marketing

Is actions a company takes to attract an audience to the company's product or services through messaging. Marketing aims to deliver standalone value for prospects and consumers through content, with the long-term goal of demonstrating product value, strengthening brand loyalty, and ultimately increasing sales.


writing category Writing

is the process of using symbols to communicate thoughts and ideas in a readable form. Writing helps to bring an idea to readers in order to commercial or social goals. Comercial writing stimulates sales growth or popularize a product, company, service, person or idea.


audio category Audio

is the art and practice of creating soundtracks for a variety of needs. It involves specifying, acquiring or creating auditory elements using audio production techniques and tools