Move over, illustration trends of 2023 – it's time for the trending illustration styles of 2024! Let's take a look at some of the top illustration trends predicted for 2024 – from rustic inks to clay rendering.
In recent years, the explosion of digital illustration has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for artists around the world. The rise of drawing programs such as Procreate and Adobe Illustrator have enabled illustrators to bring their wildest dreams to life, combining illustration with other mediums such as photography and video.
So what are the top trends dominating illustration design this year? From rustic inks to clay rendering, let’s take a look at some of the top illustration trends predicted for 2024.
1. Rustic Inks With Hatching
This illustration trend is all about beautiful hatching and stippling. It clearly has some vintage influence, as well as influence from art you might see in tattoo designs. However, it works well for a variety of scenarios—use this illustration style to bring added texture and a rustic feel to any project. It’s so interesting that digital illustration trends are working with such organic and even vintage textures, right? But that’s what you’ll see in many illustration trends for 2024.
Consider pairing this illustration style with textured paper and colors that further play into this look. Browns and sepias can be a wonderful choice here. Stippling also falls into this trend and can be such a fun direction. You can find a wide variety of hatching and stippling brushes on Envato Elements if you want to give this illustration trend a try.
2. Delicate Line Work With Flat Color
This flat illustration trend is all about beautiful, delicate line work. It also works well if you’re a fan of the faceless illustration trend—it captures a vibe while keeping things simple. Notice how it’s all about those loose gestures—a continuous, beautiful stroke that elegantly illustrates a concept. It plays off both outer and inner contours in such a creative way.
While not always present in this illustration trend, flat color is such a perfect complement that it’s a common addition. Notice how the flat, abstract shapes take the overall look even further. It’s common to see this approach in earthy neutrals, but other colors can work beautifully too.
This illustration would be right at home in an editorial design or a magazine spread. You may find this aesthetic sprinkled among fashion illustration trends too, like accompanying design work or look-book photography. It also makes for fabulous art prints, decor, invitations, and so much more. Try out this illustration trend on textured paper too—or even with watercolor effects.
3. Clay Rendering (3D)
3D continually had a presence in trending illustration styles for 2023. However, this popular 3D illustration trend is all about a clay-like look. It’s fun, memorable, and has a rather organic texture. Current illustration trends do a lot of favoring and simulating texture. It almost seems to have a nod to old-school stop-motion animation, doesn’t it? You’ll notice that some of the rounded elements here will reoccur in other digital illustration trends for 2024—that rounded look is a popular one.
This 3D illustration trend works in a variety of scenarios. It’s a fun addition to a website design, and an excellent companion to an article or editorial piece. Change up the colors and even the scene itself, and you could target such a wide variety of topics and industries with this trending illustration style.
4. Abstracted, Rounded Characters
If you love fun, whimsical aesthetics, then this is one of the trends in illustration you’ll want to keep an eye on. Rounded characters are definitely one of the trending illustration styles for 2024. From figures composed entirely of rounded shapes to floating ellipse heads, that curvature has a big presence in popular illustration right now. It’s easy to see why, too—it makes for such a fun, whimsical look.
It’s a flat illustration trend and works well for vector artwork. This approach tends to be popular both with and without accompanying line art—so why not give both a try? It’s particularly popular to take this approach with characters or people-centric illustration, but it could work well for other environments and situations too—like plants, spaces, and more.
5. Rubber Hose Illustration (Old Time)
“Rubber hose” is often used to describe a vintage illustration style that calls back to the animation style of the 1920s and 1930s. This absolutely made an appearance in the trending illustration styles of 2023—and it’s not going anywhere in 2024. This fun throwback has such a whimsical appeal. This example is such a fun one, as we see a retro television set, using retro tech, in a retro style.
This approach isn’t exclusive to children’s projects, despite the cartoon appeal. It’s got very obvious retro vibes, so it’s a great choice for projects that key into those nostalgic feelings. The right adult audience would likely appreciate the vintage reference. This could also be a fun look and feel to match similar vintage textures—or mix it up with a modern take on a look that goes back nearly 100 years.
6. Semi-Realism With Playful Use of Color
Semi-realism typically describes illustration that leans heavily into realism but still has a stylistic take. It’s a broad and beautiful genre that will likely stay in the illustration world for years to come. However, looking at current illustration trends, a playful color palette can be such a trendy approach. It can make a striking and communicative addition to any illustration, but it can really push semi-realism to a breathtaking and memorable place.
Notice how, in the bottom left example, the colors push this into a cloudy, ethereal place that we might not get with strict adherence to realism. If this is a style that resonates with you and your project, consider playing with your color palette—explore how it communicates, or how even pushing the values on the color wheel in a different way could yield different results.
7. Ornate and Mystical With Limited Palettes
Ornate, magical, witchy artwork has been growing in popularity—things like tarot and astrology, for example, have become more than just mainstream. We’ve seen this influence in illustration too. Beautifully ornate line art with a magical vibe can be a memorable aesthetic. It looks great on a variety of merchandise, from paper goods to apparel. Playing into natural symbolism creates an earthy feel too. One of the keys here is the ornate aspect, as well as a geometric presence.
Notice how these illustrations all play into some kind of magical, otherworldly, or celestial theme. There tend to be lots of little extras, and yet this works well with generous negative space, as we see in the print above. Organic elements, like plants, also work well in this space.
8. Comic, Cartoon, and Anime Inspired
Comics, cartoons, anime—these styles absolutely have a presence in illustration trends for 2024—and these beloved styles aren’t going anywhere. They’re only continuing to grow, develop, and stay with us, whether it’s in merchandise, streaming, books, or apparel. There’s good reason too. These styles tend to be quite expressive. This is also a popular choice for concept art, game development, and more.
These styles can be a great fit for children’s content, but it’s definitely not limited to that target audience either. In fact, this is a vast category—you’ll find a lot of variety in this genre, but keep in mind the exaggerated features and expressive nature.
9. Hand-Drawn Typography
Have a quote or saying that you need to share in a highly visual way? Hand-drawn type is a huge player in current illustration trends—there are countless courses, books, and tools out there to help people learn how to create beautifully hand-drawn lettering. And there’s a good reason why it’s so popular too. Check out these examples. They’d be perfect on apparel. They’re also a popular choice for everything from poster prints to social media posts. Fonts are lovely, but hand-illustrated types can make for something even more dynamic.
This approach is best suited to shorter snippets of text—a few words to a sentence. Too much would be difficult to read. However, one of the major benefits here is that because it’s completely illustrated, you have total freedom. Draw elements intertwined with the letters or make different parts of the letters intersect. It’s up to you.
10. Geometric Illustration
Looking back at illustration trends for 2023, it’s easy to see why geometry is still popular in illustration. It’s one of those trending illustration styles for 2024 that we’ll likely see continue to grow right into 2025. Strategic use of shape is a timeless approach and can adapt to suit a wide variety of aesthetics. This tends to be a common flat illustration trend. Below, we have a beautiful geometric pattern background, but this trend isn’t exclusive to patterns.
Geometry can be used in illustration in so many creative ways. Use it to divide your composition. Use it to completely build your composition—like these amazing geometric animals. Heavily leaning on geometric elements can result in a clean, stylish look. Give it a try for your next illustration project.
11. Abstract Surrealism With a Pop Art Vibe
Love geometry, but want to take it even further? Why not try an over-the-top, abstract look and feel? An approach like this can be particularly fun in poster design or motion graphics. There are loose associations to familiar forms—like faces—but there’s so much abstract and surrealist play with shape. Isn’t it awesome to look at?
However, this approach doesn’t necessarily have to be that ornate—and you can push it in different directions too. Try a different color palette, or keep things clean with simple line art. Think of this trend as geometry’s exciting cousin. Consider what you aim to communicate and how you can strategically abstract it with shape.
12. Playful Use of Shape
That said, playful use of shape can go in an entirely different direction too. For example, faceless illustration is a trend that is still with us in 2024—and this approach is a stylish one. Check out how these figures use shape in such a fun, expressive, and creative way. They communicate a lot while staying simple and clean. There’s so much movement here, and we can attribute a lot of that to the line work and the color.
Although the shapes are simple, the illustrations can still be full of personality and very expressive. Check out these fun examples. Whether you’re going for something cute and energetic or simple and clean, simplified shapes can make for the perfect illustration, especially when used in a playful and strategic way. It’s no surprise that this aesthetic has a presence in the latest illustration trends.
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