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Illustration Types: What is a Spot Illustration?

by Arianne Foulks

October 29, 2013 / Updated: October 27, 2022

We absolutely love the use of illustration on a website and as part of a creative business’ brand identity. Commissioning illustrations will give you something that’s truly unique to you and can make your site stand out as something special that extra care has been taken with.

At Aeolidia, we create brand identity design for creative businesses. This starts with a logo, but includes a variety of colors, fonts, and graphics.

If you’d like to come up with a logo and brand identity that is appealing to your customers, check out our freebie, the Logo Help Guide. It offers advice for using your files, and making a cohesive brand across all you do online and in print. All of our logo design clients receive this as part of their toolbox in building their brand, and you can nab it yourself by clicking the button below.

Illustration types

There used to be a moment of confusion when we quoted illustrated projects, where clients wondered exactly what they’re getting. While there are lots of ways to categorize illustration types, we price illustrations in a few set categories, and I’ll explain our terminology below, so you’ll be able to better decide just what you want.

  • Character illustration
  • Spot or object illustration
  • Icon illustration
  • Pattern illustration
  • Logo illustration

Character or mascot illustration

Character illustration is more involved and time-consuming than illustrating objects. A character is a person or animal, who perhaps serves as a mascot for your business. Work needs to be put into capturing a personality here. Below are some examples of characters our clients have commissioned.

Handcrafted HoneyBee Heroines
Handcrafted HoneyBee Heroines
cat mascot illustration
Felicette mascot illustration
Illustration types: character illustration
Organic Cotton Plus character by Melissa Contreras

Spot or object illustration

A spot illustration is an object that stands on its own, without a background scene. We use this type of illustration to highlight featured areas on home pages, and add personality throughout the site. Sometimes an animal or creature can be a spot illustration if it’s a simple object (such as a bird in flight or a teddy bear), rather than a full mascot with character.

Spot illustrations for Island Thyme
Spot illustrations for Island Thyme
Fabric HIve spot illustrations
Fabric Hive spot illustrations
Little John Neckwear logo and brand identity
Little John spot illustrations

Icon illustration

Icons are distinguished from spot illustrations by being meant for use at small size (though we always create vector illustrations that can scale to any size without losing quality). Icons have less detail, are clear when small, and often can work in a single color.

We use icon illustrations for a site navigation menu (or as fun surprises when you hover over the menu), or to distinguish different sections of a sidebar or web page. Icons can also be used in your product packaging, on your product itself, or on printed materials.

Shiny Happy World spot illustrations
Sticky Hugs icon illustration
Curious Experience custom icons
Curious Experience custom icons


Pattern illustration

Patterns are versatile, and something we like to include with brand identity design. If you have a seamlessly repeating pattern, you can use it for website backgrounds, business cards, tissue paper, product packaging, there’s no end to ways you can use an illustrated pattern as part of your brand.

Pattern illustration with Sophia & Sam
Pattern illustration with Sophia & Sam
Nora Gray Brand Patterns
Nora Gray Brand Patterns
Posie brand pattern illustration
Posie brand pattern illustration

Logo illustration

The Bunbury logo has an illustrated character
The Bunbury logo has an illustrated character
fox and clover brand icons and patterns
The Fox & Cover brand icons are used in an alternate logo design
The Sticky Hugs logo is a happy octopus, ready to hug you
The Sticky Hugs logo is a happy octopus, ready to hug you
Twelve Little Buttons logo and brand identity
Twelve Little Buttons illustrated logo
The Bespoke Verse logo has a leaping fox
The Bespoke Verse logo has a leaping fox


Examples of illustrations in action

On your print materials: Illustrations can be an effective and memorable way of carrying your brand’s style through your business stationery (think business cards, envelopes, letterhead), marketing materials (postcards, online ads, hang tags), and product packaging.

product packaging design for kids' accessories
Illustrations on HipCity’s product packaging
trendy feminine business card design
Illustrated business cards for Fox & Clover
Mockingbird print collateral
Illustrated print materials for Mockingbird

On your website: Here are some examples of illustrations being used on websites. You could also set a scene with illustrations on a “coming soon” page while you work on building your website.

Tickled Teal illustrated homepage
Tickled Teal illustrated homepage
Noray Gray website design
Noray Gray website design showing use of background pattern
shiny happy world home page design by aeolidia
Shiny Happy World’s illustrated bird icons call out the newsletter box
AHeirloom's homepage features an icon-based navigation
AHeirloom’s homepage features an icon-based navigation

Illustrations of your products. These can be great on the site, as part of a sizing chart, in lookbooks, or promotional materials.

Everything Ruffles product illustration by Mariah DeMarco
Everything Ruffles product illustration by Mariah DeMarco
Sweet Anthem custom illustrations
Sweet Anthem custom product illustrations

Using illustrations for your business

I hope you’ve enjoyed these examples, and that they help clarify the not-so-mysterious world of website illustration and brand identity illustration! If you’d like more info on how we can help you build an illustrated brand design, please contact us.

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