10 Most Popular Illustration Styles for Authors Book

10 Most Popular Illustration Styles for Book Authors

According to illustrators at Hancock Ghostwriters, there are more than 20 different book illustration styles – diverse in the ways we create them, their suitability for literary genres, and the age groups they attract. 

So, if you are putting a book together, which illustration style should you follow? 

While there are many types of illustrations, which one you should pick for your book actually depends on a number of factors – and know that your choice will definitely affect the entire look and feel of the book.

Importance of Illustration Styles

  • Writing and editing 
  • Illustration and design 
  • Publishing and marketing

All three of the components play a significant role in putting together a book, but it will not be an overstatement to say that illustration is the backbone of it. 

Illustrations grab the reader’s attention, set the book’s tone, and typically take more time than any other process.

This is why it is extremely necessary that you hire a talented and professional illustration artist and learn whether their style will suit your book or not. 

Otherwise, it can actually ruin the experience for the reader. Now that we have talked about the importance of illustration styles and why you must learn about them, let us have a look at different illustration styles and where they will be best suited.

A Quick Rundown of 10 Illustration Styles for Books

Here are the 10 different types of illustrations you’ll typically find in books written for readers of different ages. 

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Interested in learning more about these illustration styles? Here you go!

1. Cartoon Style Illustrations

Practically the most commonly used illustration style, a cartoon style illustration, is colorful and engaging. The characters are designed with visually distinct qualities so the readers can easily differentiate between them. As far as the overall design is concerned, the color scheme is mostly filled with different bright colors and cartoonish backgrounds.

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The designers use a simplified yet exaggerated approach to design the characters. Such a style of illustration can be found in comic books, children’s books, character-based series books, humorous books, educational books, and activity books.

Cartoon-style illustrations bring different stories to life and captivate the readers, promote imagination and creativity, and turn the reading experience into a treat.

2. Realistic Style Illustrations

It isn’t easy to illustrate an exact picture-perfect style image. 

However, many illustration experts try their best to characterize these illustrations with great attention to detail. They take inspiration from their real-life pictures and try to catch as much detail as possible to make the picture look close to the real-life image of the subject.

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3. Wonderous Style Illustrations

Wonderous style drawings are illustrations that represent magic, imagination, and fantasy in the form of art. These illustrations mostly consist of vibrant colors, magical enchanted landscapes, and imaginative characters. The designer uses a combination of different vibrant colors, such as blue, violet, and green, to add an enchanted touch to these images.

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The character design in wonderous style illustration also requires a lot of time to develop, as you want to make sure that they are likable and in their perfect forms. This style of illustration can be easily spotted in fantasy books, fairy tales, magical books, adventure and mythology books as well.

These illustrations add a sense of magic, imagination, and adoration to the books. Wonderous style not only captivates readers but also allows them to imagine and take them on a trip to different realms.

4. Line Drawing Style Illustrations

This style is not most commonly found in many story books, but the books that act as coloring books have line drawing-style illustrations. Some artists also use this style in their art pieces to show the inner feeling of the subject. 

These illustrations do not require any color or shading to express the book’s purpose. The designer outlines a picture and lets the viewer decide what colors they would like to put in the characters.

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Line drawing style illustrations provoke a sense of decision-making and creativity within the reader as they decide the final look of the characters, and allow them to connect with the art. You will spot such styles of illustrations in coloring and activity books, instructional books, handbooks, and minimal style paintings.

Line drawing style illustrations offer a versatile range of exploration to the reader. These books also cater to a wide audience, from children to adults. Every age group enjoys this style of illustration.

5. Sketch Style Illustrations

Sketch style illustrations are rough and loose designs, and typically use black pencil. 

You’ll generally find these illustrations in children’s books, graphic novels, concept art books, memoirs, and travel journal providing a bit of extra detail of the scene. 

Old classics such as “Alice in Wonderland,” “The Adventures of Tintin,” and “The Narnia Chronicles” were designed using this type of illustration.

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The artwork of this style is said to be a bit rough and unfinished yet give a clear sense of the scene. 

6. Abstract Style Illustrations

Abstract style, as the name says, is more inclined towards an exaggerated and stylized approach in the artwork, keeping in mind that it follows a specific artistic rule. It is popular for its non-literal and non-representational approach. Designers have a more experimental approach with colors and geometrical shapes while creating something unique.

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Such abstract design is not expected to make clear sense but still gives out a sense of understanding at the same time. Abstract Style Illustrations can be easily spotted in art books, poetry books, meditation and mindfulness books, architecture and design books, coffee table books, and conceptual books.

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Abstract illustration style challenges the standards of illustrations and provides the readers with a platform to explore the boundaries of interpretation. This style is used in books where the writers want to engage readers in an emotional state.

7. Stylized Style Illustrations

Stylized illustrations aren’t typically realistic — so a number of illustrations, like anime, and cartoon are stylized.

Sometimes the creators want to exaggerate real-life things into something massive and turn those aspects into something larger than life, which draws the reader’s attention toward the books and that’s where they make use of stylized illustrations. 

For example, in Alice in Wonderland, the wonderland is a perfect example of stylized illustrations, where everything which is normal in the real world is majestic.

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This style can be found in various books, such as graphic novels, comic books, children’s books, young adult fiction, art books, fashion books, sketchbooks, and artistic journals. 

8. Vintage Style Illustrations

Vintage style illustration gives out a nostalgic feel, takes the reader to a specific time, and plays a great role in setting the atmosphere of the overall book.

These are old-school illustrations that we used to see in popular classics. However, readers love vintage art to this day and that’s why it is still relevant and alive. 

Vintage illustrations are mostly cartoonish and kid-friendly. Artists typically use pencil colors and light watercolors to create these designs to give sense of bright and light moods.

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The illustrations show an aesthetic and retro side of art and can be seen in different books such as children’s story books, classic literature, poetry collections, nursery rhymes, travel books, cookbooks, and book covers. 

9. Bold and Bright Style Illustration

Designers use this illustration style to express some great voyages and make a statement. These illustration styles aim to bridge colors, big adventures, strong characters, and large stories. If your book is about your protagonist embarking on a great adventure with their pierce, bold and bright style will be the most impactful style for it.

Bold and bright style illustrations can strike emotions and easily capture the reader’s attention. They also help young readers enhance their ability to learn and ignite their creativity at the same time.

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This style is composed of energetic compositions of different colors and shapes with strong lines. Many animated movies and cartoons are also created using bold and bright style illustrations now. 

You can find this style in concept books, children’s books, board books, graphic novels, craft books, and picture dictionaries.

10. Muted Style Illustrations

If your book has a more serious tone and carries a deep message at the end, then muted-style illustrations are ideal for your book. 

This style uses muted colors and subdued designs to create a low mood within the book, which can build up the emotional tension you want your readers to feel.

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These designs carry a gentle tone and a soft composition to portray the serious mood of the overall story. Various books carry the muted style illustrations, such as literary fiction, poetry books, memoirs, personal essays, inspirational books, historic fiction, and literary journals. In fact, books that talk about mental health, and stress reduction can make perfect use of muted illustrations. 

The muted style creates a subtle vibe around the book, which acts as an invitation for the reader to feel all the emotions that are being expressed through the story.

What Makes an Illustration Stand Out?

All art is good and attractive in unique ways, but if we try to look at it from a reader’s point of view, then there are a few factors that can help your illustrations stand out. 

  • First factor in the list is the visual appeal. 

Agree with us or not, but a majority of people pick the books which they find visually attractive. So, make sure that your book cover is as attractive and interesting as it can be. But also, keep in mind that you do not overdo it.

  • Secondly, the illustration should be unique to stay imprinted in your readers’ minds. 

Your designs should be fresh and interesting that when someone says your book’s name, the image of the cover should immediately come to their mind. 

  • Lastly, your illustration must carry a story. 

It should not be any random design. It must tell the reader what they should expect from the book.


Experimenting with different illustration styles provides you with a whole new experience of artistic possibilities, allowing you to maximize your readers’ visual reading experience. Every style of illustration carries its unique characteristics, which forward the emotions of the overall story. 

If you are picking an illustration style, Hancock Ghostwriters suggest you do so while keeping your audience and genre in mind.

Want illustrations that have these all?

Work with Hancock Ghostwriters’ dedicated illustrators and bring your imagination into real art!

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