Seven Ways to Create Original Flat Illustrations

Flat design has become very popular, and it has Google’s Materials Design, Apple’s iOS 7, and Microsoft Windows 8 to thank for that. Flat design is a user interface design style, and its main characteristics are two-dimensional elements and bright colors.

Its popularity rose because it brings numerous benefits to the table, ranging from readability and legibility to clear visual hierarchy and effective legibility on various screens.

If you are interested in flat design, you are probably wondering how to create flat illustrations. To help you out, we have put together a list of seven ways to create original flat illustrations.

Everything Begins With a Sketch

Learning how to create flat illustrations is not too different from learning to create classic illustrations. It is a bold move to open up your favorite software tool and start sketching, especially when you are trying to master a new design. You will lose so much precious time. Instead, take out your sketchbook and start drawing.

Whether you want to create a flat interface design or draw a character according to flat design specifications, you will have so much more freedom when doing things on paper. Experiment with line thickness and see how it affects the drawing’s look and emotional feel.

You can also experiment with various shapes. See how sharpened, rounded, and hypertrophied shapes affect the illustration. Analyze your work and try to remember the line thickness and shape and their effect on a viewer.

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Get Familiar with the Work of Your Colleagues

Flat design is commonly used to convey specific ideas. You won’t be able to do this right at the start. Fortunately, this is something that you can learn. Where to start? Go online and start looking at the work of your colleagues.

The first thing to take a look at is the features of the flat illustrations. What ideas are those features conveying? Why do you think the artist went with those specific features? Try to identify the central feature of the illustration. It is usually the one that draws your attention the first time you see the illustration.

Once you have figured this out, try to assess the composition. See what types of shapes the designer used in his work. Is there a white space? What role does it play in the composition?

Then take a look at the shapes. Try to identify all the different types of shapes in the composition. Do they create the effect of movement or stillness? How do shapes contribute to this effect?

By analyzing the work of your colleagues, you can learn a lot about flat design and its uses.

Use Textures

The shapes and composition are just one side of the original flat illustrations. Textures have a significant role to play here, as well. Textures give flat illustrations authenticity, and you can leverage them to soften the sharp shapes.

You will have to plan ahead in order to use the right textures. In synergy with shapes, color, and illustration composition, textures should be able to help you convey the message. They are a great option if you want to achieve a hand-made effect because they make the lines appear uneven.

Textures are also a viable option if you want to add more details to your illustration and imitate real physical materials.

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Leverage the Color Palette to Convey the Message

The psychology of color is not pseudoscience. Countless studies have confirmed that colors have specific effects on viewers and can inspire emotions, even desires. Knowing a thing or two about the psychology of color will help you choose the appropriate color palette for your illustration and convey the right message.

Be aware, though, that some colors might affect the illustration’s readability. To check the contract view your drawing in black and white mode. Make sure that the contrast tone is even throughout the entire composition.

Incorporate Long Shadows

Long shadow design is one of the trends that emerged from flat design. You should incorporate long shadows if your illustration features icons.

Shadows are added on the object inside the icon frame. The rule of the thumb is to add shadows that fall at 45-degree angles. The shadows should stay compliant with the main rules of flat design. If you decide to add shadows to objects, make sure to do it consistently.

Choose Typography Carefully

Colors affect people psychologically, and so why wouldn’t fonts influence a person as well? Typography is vital in flat design, as it can also inspire emotions and convey a message to the viewers. The flat style is something that you can achieve through the proper use of typography.

Feel free to look at your colleagues’ works to learn how to leverage typography to make original flat illustrations.

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Play with Metaphors

Metaphors are also a common element of flat illustrations. They are often used to communicate the competitive advantages of products and services in an easy to digest way.

They also add an element of fun to the flat illustrations. Find two very different objects and try to make an unexpected comparison to engage the viewers and capture their attention. If you decide to try the metaphors out, make sure that they are clean and simple.

Once you master this technique, you will be able to create metaphors that promote the ideas and messages of your illustrations.

Don’t worry if you are unable to create a perfect flat illustration on your first try. It takes some time to learn and master the process. Since every designer has a different workflow, try to see what works the best for you.

If you are on a busy schedule or you need to deliver a flat design to your client with a deadline closing up, you should consider outsourcing your flat design project. There are many good design companies out there, out of which one is Artwork Abode. The Artwork Abode team has plenty of experience with flat design and illustrations, and it stands at your disposal whenever you need professional flat illustrations.


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