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How Have Computers Changed Illustration Techniques?

Updated April 17, 2017

Computers have assisted the production side of illustration and animation as far back as the early 1960s. Over the last five decades, computer software has aided illustration and design in once unimaginable ways. Programs such as Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw and Inkscape each feature user interfaces with a variety of tools to create digital images. Over the years, computer software has assisted illustration greatly in creating new ideas and realistic images.

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One of the most recognisable additions computer software has given the world of illustration is the ability to create three-dimensional imagery. Movies, television and other forms of visual entertainment have all begun using three-dimensional illustration to create a more realistic appearance. Aside from the numerous video companies taking advantage of the new software technology, research companies are also using digital illustration to recreate natural images, such as landscapes and other topographical features.


Before computers were used in illustration and general design, painting and other various colouring techniques took artists several hours, sometimes days and weeks, to properly complete. Computer software allows users to precisely colour the intended images in a quick and exact manner, giving a realistic look to illustrations. If mistakes are made during the traditional colouring process, altering the way this image appears is not that easy. With digital colouring, changing the contrast of a certain section is as easy as selecting a new colour on the digital palette.


The implementation of software in the studio has allowed for quicker illustration and animation production than by the hand painting of each frame necessary to complete a video. Additionally, computer programs have made reproduction of images an easier task than manually recreating these pictures on paper with pens, pencils and brushes. Quicker production of these illustrations leads to more time that can be dedicated elsewhere, leading to more elaborate finalised projects.


Long before the use of computers and digital illustration, artists relied on certain techniques and effects to determine the way their drawings will look once complete. Programs like Adobe Illustrator allow users to quickly change the appearance of the illustration in a matter of seconds with a variety of tools. In recent years, production companies have been able to achieve lifelike illustrated images, taking illustration and animation to new heights.

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About the Author

Matt Wooddy has been a freelance writer since 2006. His work has been featured in local and national audio magazines. Aside from graphic design and illustration work, he has also taught several classes on painting and drawing basics. Wooddy is also a DJ and technical engineer.

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