What is Illustration?

Writtern by Shabani Bizimana

Kigali City

“An illustration is a drawing, painting or printed work of art which explains, clarifies, illuminates, visually represents, or merely decorates a written text, which may be of a literary or commercial nature”


Before photography existed, the only way to express ideas were with the help of illustrations. Often in more recent years, illustrations had to be quite realistic, because there was no photography to serve this purpose. Logically, a huge market for illustration in Rwanda were newspapers, and books. In the paste 5 years , illustrators gained more attention and the creativity and originality of Rwandan Artists is now more valued than their technical skills and ability to draw realistically. That also explains the majority of styles in illustrations that appeared.

The types of illustration

We can basically divide the types of illustration, based on the technique used, into two large groups: Traditional illustration and Modern style.

Rwandan Characters by Tony

Techniques for making illustration changed over time, as materials are also changing and evolving. Ten years ago Artists relied on paper, paints, pencils, but with the digital era evolution, even artists accustomed to traditional mediums and materials started working digitally – with the help of 2D and 3D software such as Photoshop and Illustrator, for example. The digital tools and techniques imitate traditional materials and effects achieved with them and it is easy to switch different materials and experiment.