It has already become a good tradition in creative industry to make trends predictions at the beginning of each new year.
While most online authors tend to focus on graphic design trends in general, in this article I am talking about illustration industry specifically since this is my main field of expertise.
Being an illustrator with a vast background in advertising I’m excited to share my own vision on illustration trends in 2024.
Some illustration trends come and go, others stay with us for years. But whether you are a creative professional, a business owner or an aspiring artist it’s always good to be aware of the latest trends in creative industry.
Flat 2.0 (aka Sophisticated Minimalism)
Flat illustration has been with us for a while now and for good reasons. It’s flexible, easy to animate, doesn’t require profound artistic skills and looks much better in a business presentation than your standard stock photo.
Even though by this time flat illustration trend might feel a bit overused, it’s not the same style as it was years ago. Flat illustration evolved much during last 3 years. It is a more sophisticated form of minimalism now. And the fact is, it will still stay with us in 2024 as Flat 2.0, how I call it.
This modern take on flat illustration adds more complexity and depth to simple shapes and makes the illustrations much more artistic.
Key Elements of Flat 2.0
- Brush strokes
- Blur/bokeh effects
Elements like textures, brush strokes, blur effects, bokeh imitation are a great way to make flat design more engaging and well, less flat 😊. So, if you’re wondering about current illustration trends, Flat 2.0 is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Application of Flat 2.0 Illustrations in 2024
The beauty of Flat 2.0 lies in its versatility. This illustration style is great for websites, animation, app interfaces and even editorial. It is a good choice when you need clean yet captivating visuals and it will stay with us in 2024 for sure.
Hyper Realistic AI-Generated Images
One of the most significant of the latest illustration trends is the usage of AI-generated images. Artificial Intelligence has taken creative industry by storm in 2023 (for the worse or for the better – the question still remains).
Nevertheless, it’s definitely here to stay. Same goes for hyper realistic AI images which almost blur the line between photography and digital art.
Key Features of Hyper Realistic AI-Generated Images
- Photographic Realism
- Great Lighting
- Detailed Textures
AI algorithms these days can analyze many art styles and generate new images that are sometimes hard to distinguish from human-created art. And I have no doubts that the popularity of this instrument will only grow as well as the number of newly emerged AI “artists”.
Application of AI-generated images in 2024
AI-generated imagery is already being widely used in editorial and news outlets. Its potential seems huge: blogs, websites, low-budget book covers etc.
AI usage still raises some ethical questions. But I hope that in the end it will turn out to be a useful tool for artists (like generating references and exploring new ideas) rather than human artists’ replacement. Fingers crossed 😊
Limited Color Palettes
Bright colors and neon still remain a popular choice for certain illustration styles. However opposite to them this illustration trend of 2024 highlights more sophisticated limited color palettes.
Why is it a good choice to use limited color palettes in your work in 2024? It adds simplicity, helps to convey the right tone of voice and certainly leaves a memorable impression on your audience.
Key Characteristics of Limited Color Palettes
- Maximum 1-2 dominant colors
- Harmonious Palette
- Versatility across different styles
Application of limited color palettes in 2024
This illustrative approach makes a bold statement and works extremely well in marketing (utilizing a company’s brand colors across platforms), editorial and publishing industry (reflecting the book’s or article’s contents).
Geometry has been among trending illustration styles for a while (let’s say hello to Bauhaus and constructivism movements of 20th century). So, it’s safe to say that geometry is one of the evergreen illustration trends that never actually left.
Nowadays modern software offers great possibilities in working with geometry. And playing with shapes and patterns can result in striking compositions that catch the eye. So, it’s no wonder this illustration trend continues to appeal to both artists and clients worldwide.
Key Elements of Geometric Illustrations
- Sharp Angles
- Straight Lines
- Bold compositions
Application of Geometric Illustrations in 2024
Geometric elements are a good fit anywhere: web design, animated videos, mobile applications, advertisement, editorial and publishing industry. They offer an interesting twist to any illustration concept.
Illustration and Photo Combined
Merging illustrations with real photos is not a new illustration trend. I’d say it’s an evergreen one. It certainly looks interesting and adds depth that wouldn’t be possible with either element alone. And I’m sure we’ll see it used a lot in 2024 as well.
Key Features of Combined Illustration and Photo
- Realistic Elements
- Surreal Plot
- Dynamic Composition
Combining illustrations with photos certainly has a great storytelling potential. It allows to create narratives that are both realistic and creative.
Photo + illustration collage allows for endless possibilities, from adding whimsical elements to real-life scenes to creating completely surreal visuals. This approach is well loved in branding and advertisement and I truly believe it will stay with us next year as well.
Application of illustration and photo combined in 2024
This creative approach is quite popular in many industries, but truly shines in advertising, branding and social media marketing. Especially in recent years with the rise of importance of this communication channel for brands.
Focus on Diversity and Inclusivity
In 2024 illustration industry will be focusing a lot on diversity and inclusivity, just like it did in 2023. Since representation and equality are becoming more important in our society, it’s certainly being reflected in the latest illustration trends as well.
Key Aspects of Diversity and Inclusivity in Illustration
- Diverse Characters
- More cultural Elements
- Inclusive Themes
Seeing oneself reflected in art and design can greatly impact the identity and social acceptance of underrepresented groups of people. I personally like this trend a lot as it’s promoting a more equal world for every one of us.
Application of illustrations focused on diversity and inclusivity in 2024
I believe we’ll see an even greater variety of characters from different backgrounds in all media and branches of creative industry like advertising, marketing, publishing and editorial and branding.
Hand-drawn look is becoming really popular among the latest illustration trends. This style offers a personal touch that makes designs feel more organic and less like they’ve been created with the help of some digital technology.
Key Features of the Hand-Drawn Look
- Sketchy Lines
- Textured Surfaces
- Organic Shapes
Why hand drawn illustrations will be popular in 2024? They are fresh, original and add a lot of personality to the subject of the artwork. This illustration trend is a nice contrast to omnipresent flat illustration. I personally love hand-drawn artworks as they have more emotion and personality than clean corporate styles.
Application of hand-drawn illustrations
Hand-drawn illustrations are super versatile, finding their place in everything from children’s books to branding and advertisement. It looks equally great in website design and a cute greeting card and I think we’ll see more brands using this approach in 2024.
Cartoonish characters add a fun and playful touch to any design. And aside from its obvious application (cartoons and animation) this illustration trend has a long history of being used in branding since late 19th century.
Characters often evoke a sense of nostalgia, transporting adults back to the cartoons of their childhood. For younger audiences, the exaggerated features and vibrant colors are naturally engaging, making this style effective for educational or entertainment purposes.
With everything that’s happening in the world right now cartoonish aesthetic and funky characters will provide a nice little escape to the happier nostalgic times.
Key Traits of Cartoonish Characters
- Exaggerated Features
- Vibrant Colors
- Playful Themes
Application of cartoonish characters in 2024
Cartoonish characters can be used everywhere from mobile games to marketing campaigns and even packaging illustration. Brands also use characters to create a more engaging and memorable user experience (like a mascot for a tech start-up or characters in an animated advertisement or explainer video).
Illustrations with Outline
Retro elements with a modern twist are becoming extremely popular these days. The addition of contour adds an extra layer of detail and again evokes a feeling of nostalgia reminding of groovy designs of 60x-70s.
I expect to see a lot of this illustration trend in 2024 as the one evoking happy sentimental emotions during these trying times.
Key Features of Illustrations with Outline
- Vintage Vibes
- Modern Color Combinations
- Outlined Elements
Application of outlined illustrations in 2024.
This style adaptable to various themes and industries, making it one of the most interesting trends to watch in 2024. We’ll see more of it in prints, greeting-cards and other stationary, murals, album covers and advertising.
Illustrations designed as stickers are gaining more and more popularity in our age of social media and various messaging apps. They’re simple, no-background drawings, often including typography with funny, bold or quirky statement that makes them perfect for a sticker or a T-shirt print.
Stickers have become a language of their own in digital communication and are great for expressing emotions or emphasizing a point. Therefore, they will continue to be popular in during 2024 as well.
Key Features of Sticker-Ready Designs
- Simple Designs, often with text
- Scalable Formats
- Based on a shape with no background
Application of sticker ready illustrations in 2024
Beyond personal use, sticker-ready designs also have a commercial potential. Non-conservative brands with younger audience lately use this approach a lot, including stickers in their branding, packaging and other communication channels.
I didn’t want to make a super long list, so these trends don’t have a separate dedicated paragraph in this article. But these without a doubt are also going to stay strong in 2024 and further:
- 3D illustrations: especially in branding and advertising
- Animated illustrations: for any video content like ads, explainer videos or even gif stickers
- Bright colors and neon to appeal to younger audiences in both digital and print media
So, what will be popular among illustration trends throughout 2024? Expect to see a lot of hand-drawn elements, experience nostalgic vibes and witness the increasing role of technology.
The trends to have the biggest impact are:
|Name of the Trend
|Flat 2.0 (aka Sophisticated Minimalism)
|Long lasting visual trend that changes with time.
|Hyper Realistic AI-Generated Images
|New explosive trend that burst into the creative scene and keeps growing.
|Limited Color Palettes
|A trend that goes through evolution yet remains as popular.
|One of the classic everlasting trends is here to stay.
|Illustration and Photo Combined
|An older trend that has a great storytelling potential.
|Focus on Diversity and Inclusivity
|A trend that represent current themes often discussed in society.
|Gaining popularity among the latest illustration trends.
|Having its roots in 19th century this is just as relevant nowadays.
|Illustrations with Outline
|A combination of retro elements with a modern twist and a contour.
|Simple and no-background drawings are trending now and don’t show any sign of slowing down
I hope my list of popular trends can help you to better orient yourself in creative industry. Or at least sooth your curiosity😊
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