How important are pictures for blog posts?

Sometimes it’s tempting just to make a post without an image, especially when you’re short of time. Always use a picture because it’s really important to have good presentation, this will give your visitors confidence that you know what you’re doing/talking about. If you have a ‘posts page’ like mine, missing images will quickly make your site look scruffy and uncared for.

Don’t use pictures for your blog posts without permission.

Quite often when I speak to clients about using photos on their blogs, they often talk about choosing something from Google Images. I always explain that this is a really bad idea. The reason is that if you use photos from the web without permission, it’s a possibility that the owner might bill you for usage. Companies like Corbis and Getty have teams of dedicated people looking claim revenue on any unauthorised use of their images. They will claim as much as possible and have legal teams to pursue it. It’s not always possible to know where an image originated from so take caution. If you find a picture on the web that’s perfect, try asking for written permission from the owner. Sometimes photographers will agree, other times not but it’s best to find out first.

Royalty Free Stock images for your blog

Rather than just searching Google, look for photos that offer royalty free images. These are available if you have an Adobe software license or you can find a site that offers royalty free images. I’ve just found pexels.com which appears to have some good quality images on offer.

In some situations it might be difficult to find a photo that’s you can use and is right for your blog post. Generally I like to have large, lush looking photos on my site as they can communicate a feeling so well. This is great if you have the right photos but sometimes you won’t.

Use a professional illustrator

This is only likely to be an option if you have the budget but if then it’s a great choice. For my first post I was struggling to find an appropriate picture I could use with ‘Common WordPress problems and why they happen‘. I tried a few different photos I’ve shot myself but nothing really worked.  While I was browsing my file directory I noticed a drawing that illustrator and cartoonist Scott Kingsnorth had done for another project weeks earlier. It was ideal for my post so I sent him an instant message and got permission. If you have the budget, using a professional illustrator can add so much quality to your content. Publications like the Economist have used illustrators like Jac Depczyk for many years.  A professional illustrator will listen to what you need and possibly come up with some ideas you wouldn’t have thought of.

I had a conversation with Illustrator/Cartoonist Scott Kingsnorth for this post

Here’s the transcription:

What inspires you and makes you want to draw?

My two biggest inspirations are both film people. One is Ralph Bakshi who made the animated version of Lord of the Rings.  Lord of the Rings was Rotoscope so they photographed it the drew over the top so they looked like drawings and moved like people.  In some of his other stuff he did Fritz the Cat and another called Heavy Traffic. Fritz the Cat by Robert Crumb? Robert Crumb did the comic book series and Ralph Bakshi turned it into a movie. Heavy Traffic was very similar in tone, quite grotesque. That’s a big influence because his stuff is grotesque.

The other inspiration is Hanna Barbara, the creators of Yogi Bear and Top Cat. And Wacky Racers. Hanna Barbara did Tom & Jerry as well. At the time that they started, cartoons were for cinema so they screened before movies. They used to have a high quality of detail.  Hanna Barbara were the first to be producing cartoons for television so they had to have a higher through put.  They developed their particular style because speed was essential so the artwork came out flatter like you see on the Flintstones. I love that style, most of it was necessity of speed.

What techniques do you use for drawing?

When I draw, I always draw in a piece of paper firstly in pencil.  I have a habit of drawing too large so I sketch it out in pencil first. Then I go over it in pen and rub out the pencil. That’s all of the paper work I do then I scan it on a flat-bed scanner normally about 1200dpi. Then I take it into Photoshop and colour it in Photoshop.  Often I’ll put it on a photographic background, sometimes on a white background depending on the intended use. I’ve been sending a lot of cartoons to Private Eye recently. I always put those on a white background because of their style of printing.

Usually I send my artwork as a PNG file with a transparent background so whoever receives it can choose their background.  I’m not really interested in drawing backgrounds. I’m more about that Hanna Barbara drawing for speed rather than perfection. Neither am I interested in cars or buildings but I do like faces and grotesque faces particularly.  I’ll draw a face then look in my back catalogue of photos or they’re easily sourced from a royalty free website. It’s a style borne of lazyness!

Scott is currently accepting new commissions, you can find more of his work and contact details at kingsnorthlobotomy.co.uk

Pictures for blog posts