The Munchies collection designed by Elsma Ramirez

How to design an illustration system

The value of product illustrations and how to create a scalable system.

Elsma Ramirez
7 min readMay 16, 2020


Before we start talking about this amazing topic, we need to align some thoughts on what is illustration and how it can add value when designing our products.

Illustration is a tool of communication that helps to simplify complex ideas into clear messages; links concepts, capture feelings, and shapes the narrative in order to deliver effective messages. So it goes beyond decoration since it provides more context on the task the user just accomplished or tasks the user needs to take action in certain key moments while navigating our product.

It provides humanity and delightful moments to the product experience when communicating with the user. Having a unique style gives tone and personality that helps to position the brand in the user’s mind, and you as an illustrator can explore different approaches according to the intention to reflect the brand values.

Be mindful of using this resource and define the right moments. It is challenging because if the illustration is not adding value to certain moments, it will create more confusion and distraction than the original purpose to support the message on key moments where the user will need more understanding.

🛠 Designing for an open-source project

Open source illustrations accessible libraries designed by illustrators and designers. You can customize it to fit your needs. It provides different kinds of styles, tones, and formats such as PNG and SVG files that allow you to have better quality.

These open resources on the web are helping several people around the world to solve the illustration side of the product when they don’t have the resources to have an illustrator in-house or any illustration skills. Other potential use cases are writers or keynote speakers.

I had the opportunity to contribute to the open-source project called as an Illustrator with The Munchies collection, and I want to share the process with you.




Elsma Ramirez

Product Designer • Illustrator @leslongui