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Using Illustrations to Enhance The Look of Your Hub

Updated on March 6, 2015
Don't underestimate the power of fonts. Find free fonts online and use them in your hubs
Don't underestimate the power of fonts. Find free fonts online and use them in your hubs | Source

Over the last few weeks,

the folks at Hub-Quaters have been talking more about the use of illustrations. Fellow hubbers have been posting their illustrations onto the Hub Facebook Page, sharing their creations and hopefully inspiring others to start using more illustrations in their hubs.

I'm still new to Hubpages, continually learning and experimenting with various tools and techniques, but one of the elements of writing an article that came naturally to me was employing illustrations.

Most likely, the urge stems from my time spent as a magazine stylist and in product development. My days were spent making things look pretty. So when I decided to join Hubpages and write about those topics that interest me, there was never a question in my mind not to make my hubs as visually attractive as I had time for. Frankly, it is one of the more satisfying elements of writing and nothing makes me want to contribute more than the compliments that I receive regarding my photos and illustrations.

See that line?

Following my introduction, I like to insert a graphic of some kind. It's a nice way to break before continuing with my article. I certainly don't need to insert a line or any other graphic for the matter, but it gives the reader a moment to pause.

There are many other reasons that you may choose to use illustrations in your hubs.

Aside from creating a more attractive hub, your illustrations may further explain a concept, provide an example of what you are referring to, teach a method, add humor, inject details.

These can all be achieved using illustrations. Whether you use a simple line is up to you. There are a variety of illustrations that you can use to make your hub more interesting and more cohesive.

Using an illustration as a linear break

Let's say that you're writing a hub pertaining to a business topic. Perhaps the topic is complicated and can be a bit difficult to comprehend. You may decide to insert breaks after you've discussed one or two key points. Rather than use a line, use another graphic image that either relates to your topic or simply adds a pop of color to a potentially cumbersome article.

Creating a linear image is a great way to add a short break to your hub, with little distraction to your reader. Whether it's a cluster of circles, a row of font or the simplest of sketches, it may be just the thing you need to give your hub a boost.

Lines, dashes, wiggles, dots and shwooshes

Depending on your hub topic, any one of these suggestions may work well for you. While straight lines and dashes tend to elicit a more formal look, wiggles and dots can add whimsy to your hub.

It's important that you don't forget color. Color is powerful. If your hub photos have a great deal of blue in them, consider creating blue illustrations or a coordinating color. Pulling the blue color together gives your hub a more professional look.

The three illustrations above, as well as, the eight below were made in Photoshop. I have an old version of PhotoShop and collectively, all eleven illustrations took me seconds to make. If you don't have PhotoShop, that's fine. Simple graphics like these can be created using several different methods. Try or doodle a picture and then take a picture of your doodle. That's how I made the little flowers.

Using very simple tools in PhotoShop, all these were made in seconds
Using very simple tools in PhotoShop, all these were made in seconds | Source

Using free software, such as

CARTOONIZE. There are lots and lots of offers for free software on the web. Many of the software programs turn pictures or images into great graphics that can be used in your hubs.

Below, on the left, is a photo of my german shorthaired pointer. I used the free cartoonize software to turn his photo into four very unique images.


Same free program, different application

Still using Cartoonize, I uploaded a picture of a group of fall colored leaves. This is one of the results.

Try using drawings or sketches. Play with fonts. Who knows what you'll come up with.

Don't limit yourself when using these free programs. Plug in a variety of pictures and see what the results are.

Illustrations that add movement

I've recently published a hub pertaining to my visit to a butterfly pavilion. I was able to snap many colorful pictures and didn't want to add any more color for fear my hub would appear too busy. I did, however, what to add a break here and there, so I this 'butterfly in flight' is what I came up with.


Using Dover clip art

If you are a crafter or wish to create your own illustrations and haven't yet heard of Dover clip art, be sure to learn more about this invaluable resource.

Dover publications is an archive of royalty free images. Dover publications catalogs much of their images into helpful groups, such as animals, nautical, fonts, graphics and the list goes on.

Dover books can be purchased online of at your local book shop. Many of the collections have now been put onto CD format and makes it that much easier for you, the hub creator, to use these images.

The butterfly that I used was in a butterfly book I own. I manipulated the butterfly a bit more and added a line of flight. That simple.


Change direction for visual interest

The hub capsules can be arranged in a variety of ways that make a hub interested. Your illustrations can do the same.

When creating your illustration be sure to off-set any pictures or graphs that make your hub appear to listing to one side or the other.

Adding an image that equalizes your hub can return it to a more balanced look.


Do you doodle?

Some times what your hub needs is just a little doodle. Perhaps you've written a poem and wish to add a bit of illustration. Maybe, your hub is about sharing ideas with people that don't speak the same language. Or, you are teaching your audience how to make simple postcards.

Doodling can be very expressive. Add some color with colored markers. Have your kids draw you a few pictures.

Can you paint?

Recently, Hubpages posted an illustration from Hubber Melovys on their Facebook Page. The beauty of her illustration is that it was done by a child.

Do you have your child's school art hanging on the fridge? Why not consider using that to enhance your hub articles. Have your children draw or paint images that relate to your hub topic, crop them for effect and you have unique material that you can call your own.

Use images of paper

Take a few pictures of gift wrap or craft paper that you have. Crop the image to the desired size and use that as an illustration.

Generally speaking, any designs that are sold as wrap can be used for this purpose.

Even using a sliver of the wrapping paper design adds interest to the overall look of the hub.

If you're writing a hub that explains a certain technique or design, use a snippet of paper that relates. For example, The image below is from a piece of wrapping paper I have. The technique is marbling and it has been used for centuries. Maybe some time in the future, I'll write a hub about marbling and this illustration will come in handy.

I sketched and I applied PhotoShop tools. Mix it up and try different resources together
I sketched and I applied PhotoShop tools. Mix it up and try different resources together | Source


Because of the recent conversation regarding illustration, I've become acquainted with fellow hubber, Mark Ewbie.

His sketches have helped create impressive hubs and garnered Mark a large following.

Your illustrations need not be Picasso-esque, they merely need to add value to your hub.

Do you sketching talent?

Speaking of Picasso...

Picasa is free photo editing software. They also allow you to turn your photos into various effects that may be just want you're looking for.

Include something with a bit of texture

I'm sure that you have scrap paper hanging around your house. Drizzle some paint across the sheet or spatter a little across the page.

Both techniques show texture and can be created in minutes. Even before the paint has had a chance to dry, snap a photo.

While your writing your next crime tale on Hubpages, insert a little faux-blood spatter and bring your story to life.

Plain white printer paper that I drizzled red latex craft paint onto
Plain white printer paper that I drizzled red latex craft paint onto | Source
Same white printer paper that I applied a splatter technique to
Same white printer paper that I applied a splatter technique to | Source
Liquitex BASICS Acrylic Paint Tube 24-Piece Set
Liquitex BASICS Acrylic Paint Tube 24-Piece Set

Craft supplies need not be expensive. Buy a basic set of paints (latex works for so many projects) and buy paints that are sold in small tubes.


Look up, look down, look all around

Take stock of the surfaces in and around your house that would make a great illustration.

There are many surfaces in your home that have visual appeal. As I walked around my house I began to see possibilities in objects that I hadn't thought of before.

The lid of a tortoise shell box, a picture of a rug or a photo of a tile floor can all be turned into something unique.

You've got the POWER (Powerpoint, that is)

Whether you work on a mac or a pc, you most likely have Powerpoint on your computer. It is generally a standard program installed when you purchase your machine.

Powerpoint can assist you in creating illustrations and graphics for your hubs. Learn more here: Create Graphics in PowerPoint.

Using Illustrator to create your illustrations

If, in fact, you do own Illustrator, than you are able to create a vast amount of illustrations for you (and all your hub friends!)

Illustrator, like PhotoShop, is an expensive program. If you have a college-aged person living in your house, however, these programs can usually be purchased at a student discount. Keep in mind, that even with the student discount, these programs are still on the pricey side.

Here's a a single tutorial for turning your favorite pictures into illustrations. Cool, huh?

Where can you find more images?

By searching the web, you can locate a host of sites that provide images for a cost or for free. The possibilities of using these images is endless and turning them into illustrations, also endless.

For a great list of resources, review this list of 62 sites. Hubber, Sparrowlet, did a wonderful job of including the many sites available to you.

Craving more resources?

Don't mind payin'

There are those times that you just want someone else to do it for you. Well, it's not only possible, but it will only cost you 5 bucks. If you're looking for just the right illustration, consider checking out sites like fiverr.

Gimpin' along

While I'm partial to PhotoShop, Gimp is free. I like free, also. If you'd like to learn how to manipulate your own photos and images, I recommend that you stop by and take a look at GIMP.

Typically, there are a few tools that you need to learn in order to accomplish your immediate goals. After that, you'll just be adding to your skills set.

GIMP 101

Source: Free graphic from online search later manipulated using PhotoShop
Source: Free graphic from online search later manipulated using PhotoShop | Source

Hey, all those pics are pretty cool, but I need to make graphs and tables

Okay, so you're a hubber who writes more about science, or politics. You need to illustrate voter response or financial decline. Try to create your own tables with the help of DataLab or investigate the tools on

There have been an influx of hubs related to social media, marketing and branding. If you've got a hub pertaining to search engine optimization, blogging, Facebook or Twitter, you may want to check out the free charts offered at HubSpot.

An example of an altered owl design created for a retail chain

Source: Image of top owl came from ebay, the other from my portfolio.
Source: Image of top owl came from ebay, the other from my portfolio.

Using art and making it your own. A good rule of thumb

For years I have worked in product development. I've worked with many artists. Their work has been hung on walls, recreated as dinnerware patterns and sold as holiday cards to the masses.

Throughout the years, I have also witnessed, countless times, companies and vendors asking for "this" design on their product, as they handed you a swatch of fabric or a torn page from a magazine.

Never use someone else's work. It is disrespectful at the very least. It is theft, also.

With that said, I can also say that design is a complex, grey matter. Our creative teams used to say that if a single individual drew a picture of the ocean with three shells on it's beaches, you can be certain that a hundred more people around the world in that very same moment also drew that same images. Art is universal in so many ways.

So, who has the rights to a particular drawing, picture or design? Well that depends. Let me explain. If I purchase a gift card at the store and I want to use the art on that card-as it is-I must have the permission of the artist and I must give that artist credit. However, if I manipulate the art in such a way that it becomes my own, then I can use it as original art.

This can be a bit tricky, so always stand on the side of caution. If, after you have changed the design, it still looks similar to the original, you've not manipulated it enough. If in doubt, don't use it.

I wanted to show you an example from a project I'd worked on for a major retail company. The McCoy owl was the inspiration. The dinnerware pattern below the McCoy was the design that was eventually chosen for production.

See THAT line?

THAT line means that I really should stop here. I hope that this information has been helpful to you and I also hope that it inspires you to create your own illustrations and enhance the overall look of your hubs.

Good Luck With Your Illustrations!

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    • alifeofdesign profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Gifford 

      6 years ago from New Hamphire

      Christy and mperrottet, I'm glad you both found this helpful. Once you get the hang of it-adding such elements to your hubs-it becomes easier and I think it adds value to the article. Thanks for stopping by and thank you for the votes!

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      6 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      I just checked out GIMP, and think I may try it. This is an excellent hub with so many good suggestions. Voted up and useful.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Awesome thanks! This hub is very helpful and motivates me. I am bookmarking and sharing too.

    • alifeofdesign profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Gifford 

      6 years ago from New Hamphire

      Mekenzie-my pleasure. There are so many free resources, I have no doubt that you can find many types and styles of graphics that you can use to embellish your articles. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • alifeofdesign profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Gifford 

      6 years ago from New Hamphire

      rajan jolly, I'm so pleased that you found this article helpful. Thank you for all the compliments.

      Glimmer Twin Fan, thanks for the Vote Up-enjoy your apprenticeship!

      the girls, Have fun playing with PhotoShop. It is an amazing tool and can add a great deal to your hubs.

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 

      6 years ago from Michigan

      Amazing design tips here. I'm going to keep this hub bookmarked as a reference.

      Design is so important to me too. I can't seem to just write a hub without the perfect illustration. Sometimes I'm not sure if my picture is 'free' or not. I always put credit to the website that contributed the picture.

      The page breaks I have used are all found on free websites. Thank you for some real insight and help on making our hubs original and unique.


    • the girls profile image

      Theresa Ventu 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Useful hub! I recently experimented with Photoshop and I enjoyed inserting those page breaks (though not as sophisticated yet). Thanks for writing these helpful tips.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Really useful hub and beautifully presented. Voted up and shared!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Wonderful read. Illustrations add vibrancy to the hub/article. This hub has a great deal of useful info that can't really sink in at one go. Need to come back again to go over the many options you have given.

      Bookmarking and sharing too.

      Voted up, useful and awesome.

    • alifeofdesign profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Gifford 

      6 years ago from New Hamphire

      Eiddwen and toknowinfo, you are more than welcome. I'm so happy that this was helpful to you both. I look forward to seeing how you incorporate your newly learned skills into your hubs.

      Best Regards,

    • toknowinfo profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow! Thanks for teaching me so much about illustrations. I feel like I have so many more alternatives now. It is just a matter of learning them no. I really appreciate all this info.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      So interesting ;useful and well presented.

      Great work and I save this one for easy future reference.


    • alifeofdesign profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Gifford 

      6 years ago from New Hamphire

      I like the crayon concept, talfonso. I'm not familiar with Photo Explosion Deluxe. I'll check it out. I agree, the more unique your hub, the more of a personal brand you build and the more followers you will eventually get which hopefully brings in $$$. Thank you for sharing.

    • alifeofdesign profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Gifford 

      6 years ago from New Hamphire

      innerspin, first, I really like your avatar (cool). I'm pleased that I inspired you to grab your camera-have fun. Thank you for thoughts and for stopping by.

      Best Regards,

    • talfonso profile image


      6 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      Great ideas! I started using illustrations to not only spice my Hub, but to make it more original and unique! (After all, unique content is profitable!) I made line breaks for my coloring book debate Hub using a brush I custom-made on Photo Explosion Deluxe to look like crayon, then scribbled randomly with red, blue, and yellow. This adds a personal touch to the Hub while making it relevant to the subject. I'm sharing this with my followers!

    • innerspin profile image

      Kim Kennedy 

      6 years ago from uk

      Some fab ideas in your hub, I love the paint splatter. Must, must get my camera out this weekend. In all honesty, I find the line breaks between sections off-putting, but have read that they are a good thing. Thanks for your informative work.

    • alifeofdesign profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Gifford 

      6 years ago from New Hamphire

      Once I started writing, I couldn't seem to stop! I'm pleased you found it informative, billybuc.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions and you did a wonderful job of research and explanation. I'll look into a few of these this weekend.


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