There are two types of hero illustrations: “pure” and “blended”. Let’s get into it.

Pure illustration

Vibrant, fully illustrated hero. Our baseline illustration style. Our fully illustrated illustrations should feel warm and wholesome.

Blended illustrations

Standard blended illustrations

Aspirational, relatable, and down-to-earth scenes. When we draw regular-size characters on photographs, they are proportional to the environment.

“Live Super” illustrations

Empowered, strong, normal people leading Super lives. When we draw "Live Super" illustrations, the humans are significantly larger than the environment.

Hero illustrations

We use hero illustrations for full bleed spaces like our website hero, ads with copy, printed materials, and office murals. Hero illustrations tell more complex stories and explore richer emotions. They should be used as the dominant visual when considering the hierarchy of the plane.

Pure illustrations

We approach these illustrations as slices of life – scenes where our characters are enjoying the moment, being present, and living super.

Pure illustrations should feel full, expansive, and bold. Our characters are relatable and down to earth.

Since these are modular and fully illustrated, they can be built upon. Backgrounds and details can expand to accommodate different sizes and copy. Great for medium-sized layouts in product and versatile for large billboard ads.
There should be a balance with negative space. Characters should be developed fully whenever possible so the backgrounds can be expanded and adapted to be designed with copy.

Spottie is a "free agent" that travels between both the illustrated and photographic world.

It’s important not to neglect the background in order to create a full and balanced composition. However, we use less line work in the environment and strike for harmony.

If there are objects in the foreground, we give it a bit more line details. However, since the foreground bush is not the primary focus of the illustration, we use less contrast in the lines.

Foliage further in the background can take an abstract form. People in the background should still have line work, but less.

The environment

Our members are our stars. We keep our environment more simplistic so our characters can stand out. They are based on real people and reflect the diversity of the world we live in.

Spottie in pure illustrations

Spottie can be the star of any pure illustration.

In Spottie’s world, the environment can be much simpler and abstract. They can be grounded by adding a shadow to an empty space or adding basic backgrounds.

Spottie in pure illustrations is very versatile and great for quick win materials like promotional email headers, booking confirmation emails, internal employer brand, and announcements.

They can work great as smaller standalone and contained images, but not necessarily taking over a full plane.

Standard blended illustrations

In our standard blended illustrations, we add illustrated elements into a photographic real-world backdrop. Our characters and inanimate objects are proportional to the space they are in.

By blending illustrated characters with photographic backdrops, we can create scenes and stories to convey concepts and emotions that fit our exact message.

When drawing on photography, it’s important to consider perspective, lighting, and movements of the photograph and how it would correlate with the illustration.

While we are mixing photography and illustrations, we do not cut out elements from photography and put them in an illustrated world.

We also add Spottie on photographs. Spottie can interact with photographic humans. However, illustrated humans should not be on the same image as a photographic humans.

"Live Super" blended illustrations

In our "Live Super" blended illustrations, we add illustrated human characters into a photographic real world backdrop. Our characters are not proportional to the space they’re in and are significantly larger than the space they’re in.

Following the theme of “normal people leading Super lives”, we want our customers to feel Super by being exactly who they are with our product. This means no unrealistic super powers, like flying across the sky or having multiple arms. It means our characters should look and feel like real humans.

Finding photography for blended illustrations

When picking out photography for blended illustrations, it’s important to consider the composition before using them. Characters should be able to fit within the photography and interact in the environment, including reflections.

If characters are interacting with their environment, photographic elements should be adjusted as needed.

While not always possible, finding photography that can be expanded easily through editing is recommended. That way the illustration can be versatile in adapting into other types of design. (eg: adding copy)

Avoid over-saturated and over-edited stock photography

The photographs should not feel too out of reach. If the photograph looks too grand or cinematic, it can feel unattainable. We don’t want our characters to be monstrous.

Blended illustration best practices

Illustrated human characters should not interact with photographic human characters.
Spottie does not appear in Live Super blended illustrations.
Pay attention to photographic and illustration overlap and interaction. Be sure to adjust the planes accordingly if photographic element is in front of illustrations.

Hero illustrations best practice

We try to avoid using blended illustrations in product as it can feel very busy.
Pure illustrations can scale better or have details removed.
We don’t use hero illustrations for small frames.
Consider using spot illustrations or iconography instead.

Adapting hero illustrations into other designs