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Illustration Types: What is a Spot Illustration?

by Arianne Foulks

October 29, 2013 / Updated: October 27, 2022
Custom logo and hand-drawn illustration for Giftbar; learn more about the different illustration types we offer.

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.

Illustration types

There used to be a moment of confusion when we quoted illustrated projects, where clients wondered exactly what they were 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 is an example of a custom character illustration.

custom character illustration for Muddy's Bake Shop; learn more about the illustration types that we offer.
Character illustration for Muddy’s Bake Shop.

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

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.

custom icons are just one of the illustration types we offer
Custom icons for an online gift shop.
custom icons are just one of the illustration types we offer
Icon illustration for an art prints shop.


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.

yarn ball pattern design
Yarn ball branding pattern design for a knitting shop.
GRDN - pattern design for a specialty garden and home store.
GRDN pattern design.

Logo illustration

Balanced Bites logo designed by Aeolidia.
Balanced Bites logo.
Whispering Willow - logo design for a natural apothecary line.
Hand-drawn style tree and logotype with an organic yet clean quality.
Sir Dogwood - logo design for a pet supply store.
Logo featuring a dog with a crown and a rich taupe-gold color palette.


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.

Custom brand identity for Paper Mundi designed by Aeolidia.
Custom brand identity for Paper Mundi.
Sir Dogwood - shopping bag design for a pet supply store.
Shopping bag design with Sir Dogwood logo and custom patterns.
Brand design for a soap company
Logo design used for soap packaging.
Pencil case packaging design for an online stationery and lifestyle company
Product packaging featuring a custom illustrated logo and pattern design.

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.

Brand identity design, custom website, and copywriting for an e-commerce baby brand
Sugar House Baby website with custom branding.
Homepage design for a bakery with custom illustrations.

Illustrations on your storefront, products, and more:The sky’s the limit when it comes to using illustration in your business. As you can see here, some of our past clients got really creative in how they used these various illustration types!

Street mural featuring visual design for a specialty garden store. Custom patters are just one of the illustration types that we offer.
A street mural featuring a pattern design for a specialty garden store.
Logo debossed on the bottom of ceramics. Custom logos are just one of the illustration types that we offer.
Logo design stamped into handmade ceramics.
Repeating patterns and a mix of logo designs and seals used to brand a delivery truck. Logos and patterns are among the various custom illustration types that we offer.
Repeating patterns and a mix of logo designs and seals are used to brand a delivery truck.
Gladfolk - storefront design for a modern lifestyle goods brand. Logos are just one of the illustration types that we offer.
Storefront design.

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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