Graphics can be functional or artistic. The latter can be a recorded version, such as a photograph, or interpretation by a scientist to highlight essential features, or an artist, in which case the distinction with imaginary graphics may become blurred. It can also be used for architecture.

In contemporary usage, it includes a pictorial representation of data, as in c manufacture, in typesetting and the graphic arts, and in educational and recreational software. Images that are generated by a computer are called computer graphics.

Illustrations can be used to display a wide range of subject matter and serve a variety of functions, such as:

  • giving faces to characters in a story
  • displaying a number of examples of an item described in an academic textbook
  • visualizing step-wise sets of instructions in a technical manual
  • communicating subtle thematic tone in a narrative
  • linking brands to the ideas of human expression, individuality, and creativity
  • making a reader laugh or smile
  • for fun (to make laugh) funny

The aim of an illustration is to elucidate or decorate a story, poem or piece of textual information (such as a newspaper article), traditionally by providing a visual representation of something described in the text.

The editorial cartoon, also known as a political cartoon, is an illustration containing a political or social message. An illustration is a visual representation such as a drawing, painting, photograph or other work of art that stresses subject more than form.

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