Guidelines content update: Our Brand Lens and Imagery Guidelines pages are now live.

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Types

We have two main types of illustration—technical and expressive. It is important that when illustrating either a technical or expressive illustration that they stand the test of time and outlast trend cycles.

Technical illustrations are usually in vector form, made of smooth lines, and help provide the consumer a more detailed look of product.

Expressive illustrations tend to be more full of personality, loose, hand drawn (not just vector), consisting of texture, and well, expressive.

Example of a technical illustration
Example of an expressive illustration

Tone of Illustration

The tone of our illustration lives on a scale of our two illustration types—from technical to expressive.

The more technical an illustration is: the more functional it is in tone—in fact, proper technical illustrations should not convey any sense of emotional weight. They exist as a vehicle to help communicate information only.

The more expressive an illustration is: the more playful and light-hearted the illustration is in tone. This is where you as an illustrator can take liberty in communicating emotionally drawing our inspiration from what we know best: having fun in the mountains.

Here we have an example of how illustrating a board can live on the scale of our two types of illustration—technical and expressive. When you view the technical illustration notice how it differs in tone from that of the expressive illustration.

Composition

Whether the illustration is the main focal point of the composition, or the illustration is subtle, and a complementary piece to the overall composition—it is important to maintain the proper visual balance.

Focal Point

When working on a project that requires the illustration to be the main focal point of the composition—your illustration needs to attract the viewers eye in first, before the viewer notices any of the additional content/information that may exist within the composition. In other words, referring to hierarchy principals of design, your illustration should have the most visual importance.

DON’T: In this lockup the illustration fails to be the main focal point as the viewer eyes are firstly directed to reading “Backpacks”.
DO: In this lockup the illustration accomplishes being the main focal point as the viewer is attracted to the illustration before any other elements.

Complementary

Sometimes a project can require the illustration elements to be a complementary piece to that of the overall composition. To be successful in keeping the overall composition balanced you need to make sure your complementary illustration is subtle and not distracting in any way. In other words, referring to hierarchy principals of design, your illustration should have the least visual importance.

Consider these attributes on your quest on creating a complementary illustration:

  • Color. Make sure the color palette used in the illustration doesn’t compete with additional elements within the composition.
  • Layout + Scale. If you as an illustrator are placing the illustration within a composition—make sure the illustration isn’t competing for attention with any additional elements and information.

In the examples below you’ll see an ad breakout that has an illustration that is not complementary to the main focus of the ad breakout—the copy and CTA. You’ll also see the correct way to accomplish a balanced composition using a complementary illustration within the ad breakout, which allows for the copy and CTA to be easily digested.

DON’T: The yellow lines of this illustration compete with the viewers attention and fail to be complementary in the overall composition of the breakout.
DO: The colors chosen of the illustration and the subtleness of the background texture succeed in creating a balanced composition. The illustration elements are complementary and don’t compete with the copy and CTA of the breakout.

Iconography

Icons are a way that Burton can communicate quickly in a visual language that is easily identifiable across all departments, channels, and our customer/consumer base. 

Iconography on the scale of technical to expressive, leans more towards technical. We use icons at Burton across product—on packaging and the product itself as functional or informational callouts, environments, print, web and social.  

Construction

Our icons are carefully constructed in direct relationship to the shapes and forms of our brand typeface Helvetica Now.

See how we use Helvetica Now. → 

The relationship between our brand typeface Helvetica Now and our iconographic style.

Construction Highlights

Keeping these iconography construction highlights in mind will help you accomplish creating successful on-brand icons:

  • The Helvetica family is a timeless and internationally recognizable typeface—our iconographic style should follow suit. This means:
    • Round Corners
    • Squared Vertical Terminals
    • Level Horizontal Terminals
  • If pairing an icon with Helvetica Now—make sure the line weight of the icon is identical to the font weight being used.
  • The negative and positive shapes/lines/forms/contours of every icon should be balanced.
  • Every icon should scale well in size.

Exporting

Exporting an illustration or icon correctly can be the difference maker between that of poor and effective visual communication. Poor exports not only look bad visually, but they can also have a negative effect on how we’re perceived by our customer base. Have you ever noticed a brand using pixelated images or logos? No bueno. Good exports—well you won’t notice them and that’s the point.

Depending on the project you may need to use different exporting methods to get the highest quality of illustration file, textures, icons, animation and etc.

Illustration Summary

01
We have two main types of illustration: technical and expressive. 

02
The tone of our illustration lives on a scale of our two illustration types—from technical to expressive. Technical illustrations communicate information visually, whereas expressive illustrations have more emotional weight.

03
Whether the illustration is the main focal point of the composition, or the illustration is subtle, and a complementary piece to the overall composition—it is important to maintain the proper visual balance.

04
Burton doesn’t have brand colors. We use color palettes based on seasons, product collections, and visual themes. 

05
Burton can communicate quickly through the implementation of iconography. Our icons are carefully constructed in direct relationship to the shapes and forms of our brand typeface Helvetica Now.

See how we use Helvetica Now. → 

06
Exporting an illustration or icon correctly can be the difference maker between that of poor and effective visual communication.