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Reference Library: Illustration

An 'Illustration' is a visualisation such as drawing, painting, photograph or other work of art that stresses subject more than form. The aim of an Illustration is to elucidate or decorate a story, poem or piece of textual information (such as a newspaper article) Traditionally by providing a visual representation of something described in the text.
Illustrations can be used to display a wide range of subject matter
and serve a variety of functions like:
* giving faces to characters in a story;
* displaying a number of examples of an item described in an academic textbook (e.g. A Typology);
* visualising step-wise sets of instructions in a technical manual.
* communicating subtle thematic tone in a narrative.
* linking brands to the ideas of human expression, invididuality and creativity.
* making a reader laugh or smile.


Illustration can be traced back to prehistoric cave paintings and hieroglyphics all through history to today.

Golden age of illustration

The American "golden age of illustration" lasted from the 1880s until shortly after World War I (although the active career of several later "golden age" illustrators went on for another few decades). This was a time when newspapers, mass market magazines, and illustrated books were the most dominant media available. Improvements in printing technology freed illustrators to experiment with color and new rendering techniques. A small group of illustrators in this time became rich and famous. The imagery they created was a portrait of American aspirations of the time.
In Europe, golden age artists were influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and by such design-oriented movements as the Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau, and Les Nabis. Leading artists included Walter Crane, Edmund Dulac, Aubrey Beardsley, Arthur Rackham and Kay Nielsen. American illustration of this period was anchored by the Brandywine Valley tradition, begun by Howard Pyle and carried on by his students, who included Norman Rockwell, Haddon Sundblom, N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Frank Schoonover and Edwin Austin Abbey.
However, Illustrators in the 90's confronted a challenge from computer softwares especially Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, CorelDraw, CAD, etc. Most of the new generation illustrators were trained at colleges directly in front of the screen.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Illustration".