At Anchor & Alpine, we create award-winning original illustrations in partnership with our clients. We also procure and harmonize stock. It all depends on the project’s needs and budget. So, what’s the best way to go? 

Custom Illustrations

Custom illustrations are for companies that want something unique—be that from a subject matter, design, or point of view. You may have specific characters you need to have included from a diversity standpoint. You may have a particular way you want your product shown off. They let you get exactly what you need—almost. 

It’s important to remember that if you commission custom illustrations, you are working with an artist. The illustrations need to be in a style they can create, and they need the right kind of talent and expertise to draw the right thing. We draw our custom illustrations in modern software, usually, Procreate, so we can do a little bit of editing to the work, move something over a little or add more hair to someone—but requests to change the perspective or move the hands is often a complete redo. 

Stock Illustrations

Stock illustrations are ones that you buy from a stock image website. You can get these as vectors or flat graphics and can often find an entire catalog for purchase. We mostly use Shutterstock when we purchase stock images. 

We often take stock illustrations and recolor them to fit your brand. 

Stock is a good choice if you want to see what you’ll get before you buy it. It takes far less budget, time, and talent to work them.

Semi-Custom Illustrations

There is a bridge between custom and stock. We often work with companies to find a set of stock illustrations that are almost right, and then we recolor them, reconfigure them, and make them feel more cohesive to the brand. 

Resource Costs — Energy, Time, & Money

Original illustrations are more expensive, take longer, and the entire process is a much deeper commitment than using stock. The results are worth it if you are looking for a unique and interesting take on your subject matter. Good illustration projects can work hard for you—they can carry websites, interior office graphics, digital, and print products. 

Facilitating an Original Illustration Project

Sketch to Final Illustration for Maxwell

We are big on process refinement here at Anchor & Alpine. We want clients to pay for creativity, not for mundane tasks. We want to spend our time working on interesting projects and not the fiddly bits. After several successful illustration projects over the years, we’ve found that the best way to facilitate a project is to stick to the process that works: 

Mood Boards

We start with mood boards of other illustrations and images that will help us hone in on the style you need. 


We do some fairly quick sketches to make sure we’re all on the same page for the final layout and characters of all of your illustrations. During the sketching phase is the best time to make changes to perspective and elements that are in focus. If you work with us your images will contain a responsibility representation of diversity—the sketches are an excellent time to ensure we’ve got this part right. 

Key Image

Once we have a style and a sketch, it’s time for the key image. This is the first image we will do in a series to make sure we nail it. We review this image together and make sure we all agree on where we’re going next. Once this is approved, we create the other drawings. 

Additional Images

These are often only shown in their final form for minor edits. Once we have established a style and have sketches, illustrations usually take 8–12 hours each. This is why the key image must have all the right elements approved. 

These are your images, you own them, and you need to protect them. Once all invoices are paid, we issue a transfer of copyright to you for your original illustrations. 

Illustrations are super on-trend right now. A trend we anticipate will continue for several years. As the responsibility to convey human diversity and stay on brand becomes more important to customers, many are turning to illustration to carry their messages. 

Do you want to work with us on an illustration project? Let’s talk.