How to Include illustrations in Your Infographics

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

A good infographic (obviously) should include good art. Illustrations promote the storyline, define elements visually, and brighten a page that might otherwise be filled with gray type. An illustration can be a physical drawing, some sort of chart or graph, or even a time line.

Your everyday life is filled with examples of how illustrations entertain and inform: Consider simple elements like the icons on a TV remote control or the capital S and the P on salt and pepper shakers. Infographics rely similarly on clear, intriguing visual elements.

Your illustrations will be a major part of your infographic theme. They will help you carry home your message, cement the seriousness or humor of your work, and will attract and delight your readers.

The illustrations used in the infographic must reflect — not distract from — the information that the graphic is displaying.

To help you choose and use the right art in your graphic, follow these tips:

  • Consider which type of art element can best present the information in your infographic. If your graphic depicts a scene, like devastation to forest trees after a storm, you’ll probably want to draw an illustration.

    If the information uses numbers to show a trend, a fever line chart might work. If the graphic breaks out percentages, a pie chart is effective. A comparative list of numbers over time may call for a bar chart.

  • Sketch your graphic to help the client or your editor see what you’re going for with your design. Most people need help to see what you’re envisioning.

    After all, that’s why graphics are around in the first place: They break down elements of a story to increase the readers’ understanding. A quick sketch and explanation of the sketch will assist you in your presentation to the boss or client who may have to sign off on it.

  • If you’re not producing the art yourself, include examples of the artist’s work when presenting your graphic to a client or editor. You may know what kind of work the artist produces, but the editor/client won’t.

  • Keep a file of graphics that you like. Refer to these when you need help generating ideas for future projects. Also, when dealing with a potential client, using sample illustrations to accompany your custom-themed graphic can help you share your vision.