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Illustration is an eye-catching medium that tells a story in a way that photography and icons cannot. We use illustration to tell conceptual, open stories and describe nuanced ideas in an authentic way.
Types of illustration
Minispot illustrations convey a single, simple concept to support a headline or copy. They are slightly more complex than icons, and they always use our 1-color red palette with the dot texture.
Spot illustrations help to convey an idea or story at a small to medium scale and are meant to be used with supporting copy. These illustrations are more complex than minispots and use a palette of 3-7 colors.
When to use illustration
Use illustrations when a subject is too complicated or abstract to be understood another way and when icons or diagrams are too technical. While diagrams and charts are useful when presenting data, illustrations build a narrative structure or demonstrate a concept. Illustrations also work well for animation and motion graphics, which use the same visual style.
When we create an illustration, we make sure our design is:
Active, not passive.
Illustration should imply movement and activity. When depicting people, it should be dynamic, not stiff or static.
Professional, not whimsical.
Our style is refined and fits with the complex nature of our products. We are not overly cute, cartoonish, or childlike.
Informative, not decorative.
Our illustrations should engage a business audience with an understanding of enterprise-level software. Our goal goes beyond engaging the attention of a general audience.
Open, not closed.
With diverse people and diverse thoughts, the best ideas come from everywhere. We avoid homogeneous representation and depictions of the traditional enterprise.
We use a limited color palette for our illustrations instead of a realistic one. Choose colors from our brand color palette to create the tone of your message. Illustration color palettes range from simple (1–2 colors) to complex (5 or more colors).
Minimal color palettes are ideal for most brand illustrations. Choose colors with strong contrast, and use texture to add depth and dimension.
Rich color palettes are ideal for bold illustrations that draw attention. Choose color harmonies with purpose, and do not use textures.
Choose a limited set of colors from our brand palette.
Do not force a color into an illustration just to make it look realistic.
Light and shadow
Every illustration scene should have a clear light source. Use consistent tints and shades to create light and shadow.
Light is coming from the upper right, so shadows are cast on the left. Shadows should fall on objects in a natural, organic way.
Use shadow to show that objects in the scene have body and depth.
Hide unnecessary details by using light and shadow.
Use shadow colors that make sense with the overall palette.
Locate and use a single light source.
Do not mix light sources.
Use colors that offer strong contrast. Bright colors draw attention, and less saturated colors add depth. Use this contrast to separate the focal object from the background.
Our illustration style features 2 texture patterns. Use textures as accents in 1-color or minimal-color illustrations. To keep illustrations open and uncluttered, textures should not be used as background fills or to fill large areas.
Use texture as an accent in illustrations with limited color.
Do not use texture as a background fill or to cover large areas.
Diversity and inclusion
Diversity and inclusion is a significant part of our process for creating illustrations. We make sure our illustrations are reviewed by others—designers, peers, and Red Hat® diversity and inclusion communities. To be intentional and thoughtful, we allow time to research, listen, and adjust. With our illustrations, we aim to uplift those who have been marginalized for their appearance, ability, or identity.
Design using inspiration from real people, and use photos as a reference.
Our illustrations show that every human being is different and that these differences are welcome. We use photos of real people as a source for our illustrations—not our own ideas of people–to prevent unintentional biases and stereotypes. There is no room for error. If we do not have enough time for the previous steps, we choose an alternate solution without illustrations of people. Our illustrations depict a diverse community by reflecting the world as it truly exists.
Create a realistic facial structure and features.
Do not create overly rounded and simplified people.
Use real people as a reference, and stylize them according to our brand.
Do not create illustrations of people who are traced exactly from a photo.
Use references to illustrate people in natural, authentic poses.
Do not overly simplify people in a way that feels stiff and unrealistic.
Show diversity in people, and use details like clothing and accessories to add personality.
Do not create people who look generic or unintentional.
Skin tones should be consistent within an illustration (or set of illustrations) and be inclusive of our diverse audience. Use tints and shades of red and orange for skin tones, but not the most saturated shade of red or orange. The color you use for skin tones should match the rest of the illustration. For example, use red-based skin tones in an illustration with red accents. When illustrating in 1 color, use the background color for all skin tones rather than a fill or texture.
Red-based skin tones
Orange-based skin tones
For 1-color illustrations, use the background color for all skin tones.
Do not fill or use a texture for skin tones in 1-color illustrations.