Our brand style uses strong photography to tell a story visually. There are however many instances in which illustration can play an important role.

Illustration can encompass drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, digital design, 3D modeling etc. More complex than an icon (a simple visual symbol) an illustration should serve as a visual explanation of an idea or concept.

Illustrations can be used in several different ways:

Editorial – magazines, news releases, websites, social media

To express an idea from the text it accompanies.


Illustrations used in promotional materials, e.g. university events.

On-campus awareness

Campaigns intended to educate others about specific topics or issues.


A visual approach to scientific concepts.


A visual representation of information, data or knowledge intended to present content quickly and clearly. More information on infographic style.

Tips for successful illustrations

The illustration style should appear cohesive and consistent with other elements from our visual identity. When creating, keep in mind:


The OSU color palette should serve as a starting point for illustrations, introducing additional complimentary colors as the illustration requires.


When illustrating people, skin tones should be realistic. Guidelines will continue to evolve as we navigate culturally competent design.

Line weight

If your illustration uses strokes, lines should be of a uniform weight.


Ongoing programs / repeated use from previous years

In the same way we wouldn’t use the same photo in a piece year after year, illustrations should not be used repeatedly.


No stylized or cartoon images of a beaver are permitted. Use of consistent graphics helps build brand consistency. Approved illustration files of the university mascot are available here.

Recruitment materials

The priority in recruitment materials should be to portray the student experience through photos, video and messages. Illustrations could be used to represent specific ideas or processes, but should not dominate any particular piece.