Earlier traditional methods of illustration were used by artists which was mostly hand drawn. Some of the popular techniques used were woodcutting, metal etchings, pencil illustrations, charcoal illustration, lithography, water color illustration, acrylic illustration, pen and ink illustration and collage illustration.
- Woodcutting can be seen in very old manuscripts as it was used in ancient times but it gained popularity in middle ages when the printing press was invented. A carved wooden block would be used for portraying beautiful illustrations in books.
- Metal etching is done by covering a metal plate with waxy ground that is used to resist acid. Then with a pointed needle, the ground is scratched wherever the artist wants lines to appear. After that in a bath of acid, the plate is dipped.
- Pencil illustrations are one of the most popular methods which let the artist create soft shadows and transitions as well as accurate and sharp lines. At times, an illustrator use pencil sketch as a draft and later it is finished using some other material.
- Charcoal illustrations may not be very precise like pencil and pen illustrations but often used for short stories illustration and fast sketches. Because of its property of blending, it allows for creation of range of textures.
- Lithography uses an image drawn with wax or oil on the smooth surface of a lithographic plate. Even nowadays, most of the magazines and books which use colored illustration take the help of offset lithography for printing.
- In water color illustrations, color pigments are used with addition of water for creating different transparencies. It has a lot of depth but very soft and airy.
- Acrylic illustration can be used on any kind of surface and the best part about these paints is that one they dry, they become water resistant.
- Pen and ink illustration are done using ink on light surface for creating contrasting areas.
- In collage illustration, different materials and forms are assembled to create an artwork.
With the advancement of digital era, the artists are able to express more freely. Nowadays, artists use graphic tablets for drawing images and edit using software like Photoshop. Such software mimics the traditional pens, brushes, colors, paper and other drawing tools.
- One of the types of modern illustration is the freehand digital illustration which can create a smooth shadow and light transition with the background more complex. These can be printed within certain sizes so that their quality is not lost.
- Vector graphics are another way to produce image but in this its size can be scaled up or down without losing the quality of the picture. It is mostly used for web illustrations. A vector graphic design can be easily recognized by its clear definition, outlines and shapes.