Finally, the first Illustration Techniques assignment is due today. For this assignment, the class was given a lot of preparatory material to get ready to use pen and ink techniques. We looked at pen and ink medical illustration by John Melloni, Gerald Hodge, Al Teoli, Russel Drake, Trudy Nicholson, Tim Phelps, and of course, John Daugherty. By studying Hodge’s practice sheets on eyelash line and effective contour line drawing, the class was given a great introduction to the patience necessary for pen and ink illustration. We were given specific limits on size and layout, measured in picas. We could work digitally or traditionally — I chose Corel Painter and the scratchboard tool to make my illustration of the lateral brain and sinuses.

lamy_brain-dural-sinuses_LRMy pen & ink illustration for Illustration Techniques

I found this project very challenging, especially when doing my research on the important gyri and sulci of the brain as well as the position of the sinuses. After doing a little reading in Gray’s Anatomy and talking to my neuroanatomy professor, Dr. Unnerstall, I felt confident enough to place the sinuses accurately. Though I’m happy with the result, I think I’ll go back in and try to re-ink the work. The more you use pen and ink technique, the more control you have over the media. After all that, I feel like I have a much better idea of how it works.

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It’s been about a month since the spring semester started, and though it’s been a little hard to get into the swing of things, I think I’m finally feeling comfortable with my new schedule. With a couple of “extreme weather” days off thrown in the mix, I’ve had a little more time to work on projects and assignments, but it’s also difficult to get into routine when it keeps getting interrupted. Anyways, it’s been a great start to the semester nonetheless — I’ve learned a ton of new skills in the program 3D Studio Max about digital modeling. So far in Computer Visualization we’ve worked on two small assignments — to create a spaceship and a hypodermic needle.

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Welcome to the squidship! I’ve always loved the comparisons between the deep mystery of space and the ocean, so I thought I’d make a spaceship that resembles the Common Squid (Loligo vulgaris). Squids are really intelligent invertebrates with a giant axon that controls their water jet propulsion system, enabling them to quickly move through the water. I imagine my spaceship, if working correctly, would have jets that would move similar to the tentacles of the squid to control direction and amount of propulsion through space.

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This is my hypodermic needle. It was so much fun learning how to manipulate splines within 3DS Max, and working on different shapes that fit into one another. A friend of mine asked me if I could push the plunger in, but we won’t be doing that kind of work until later. Apparently it has something to do with setting a different “axis” on each object so that you can move it within that specific plane.

3D modeling is so different from any digital skill I’ve acquired thus far. It’s so exciting and full of potential — like learning anatomy last year, I feel that learning 3DS Max is like learning a new language.

In other classes, I’m currently working on a project involving pen and ink for the Illustration Techniques class. Since I’m taking the Neuroanatomy course this semester, I’ve decided to illustrate the brain and map out the sinuses. Last week we were all asked to bring in our sketches for review — assigned to groups of three, we went over what we liked and disliked about each work and what we might be able to do once we transform the toned sketch into pure line work. I think it was a really helpful way to analyze the project before its due date and hope that we continue this kind of review for future projects.

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This is my sketch so far. Can’t wait to start on the lines in Photoshop!

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My final project for Anatomical Visualization. For this assignment, I had to illustrate the enzyme COX-1 and its interactions with both ibuprofen and aspirin. It was challenging, but I’m pleased with the result. I definitely learned a lot from this project — especially about how to use my resources better. Instead of placing the enzyme in half of the lipid bilayer of the ER, I placed the enzyme knobs within the entire lipid bilayer. From now on whenever I do any molecular illustration, I’ll read more about how the molecules are situated in the environment. Thankfully, I still think the illustration reads clearly. If you’re taking aspirin for cardio-protective benefits, always make sure you don’t take it along with ibuprofen! Check out the illustration to understand why.

It’s been a crazy semester full of challenging projects, deadlines, and most importantly, anatomy exams! But it’s all coming to an end in the next week. I’ve definitely grown a lot as a student this semester, and I feel prepared to take on the new challenges brought with the next year and a half of study. Next semester I’m registered for two science courses, Neuroanatomy (with lab) and Pathophysiology, which is online. I’m definitely curious about Neuroanatomy, and a little scared about the prospect of taking a class as difficult as Pathophysiology online, but I’m sure it will work out okay. As far as my design and art classes go, I’m taking Computer Visualization and Illustration Techniques. I’ll also be taking a class on research, Strategic Inquiry in the Biomedical and Health Sciences, as well as starting my own project research. Unfortunately I won’t be taking Graphic Design, which sounds like a great class, but maybe I’ll be able to take it in the future or as an independent study.

This Friday is the last anatomy exam, and then next week there are three big projects due. Everyone in the BVIS program will be putting together presentations showing their work before we end the semester. It’s exciting that this crazy semester is coming to an end, but it also feels bittersweet in some ways. With the end of the semester comes the end of anatomy labs and lectures, and just when I finally feel like the language of anatomy has become comfortable for me! I’ll be happy not to be dissecting anymore, but in some ways it’ll be sad to leave the anatomy lab for good. I’m mostly bummed about returning the bone box, which I didn’t have the opportunity to draw from as much as I wanted to. Since I love drawing bones, I’ll have to take that on as an independent project sometime during my career. But right now it’s important to focus on what I need to do to succeed within the program, which means it’s time to get back to studying. Wish me luck!

Since I last posted, I’ve survived yet another anatomy exam and begun on a collection of new projects. I’m particularly excited about assignment four for Anatomical Visualization, which is to place at least two organs within a figure, complete with the skeleton and reference planes so that the anatomy is positioned in the most accurate manner possible. This project’s emphasis is on relativity, and how starting with a solid and accurate structure or base (the skeleton, for example) will help in the construction and success of the final work. I’m just about finished and all that needs to be added are a few labels.

We started with a couple of figure drawings of both the male and female figure. Both models had a substantial amount of clear surface anatomy landmarks, such as the sternal notch, the lines of the clavicles, the acromion process, the costal margins, the anterior superior iliac spines (popularly known as ASIS), and the iliac crests. This makes it much easier to place the internal anatomy within the figure. Fortunately, I was in the center of the room when the male model posed for us in anatomical position. During the time when the female model posed for us, I had a 3/4 medial view which wouldn’t work for this project. I was interested in illustrating the female reproductive system, but the sketches of the male model ended up being ideal for the assignment.

I ended up illustrating the kidneys, ureters, and bladder along with the lungs.

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We’re nearing the end of this semester, and it’s pretty amazing to realize how much I’ve accomplished in the last three months. I’ve learned a plethora of new information about the human body, illustration, and web design and I am so privileged to be working with such talented peers and professors. In less than a month my classmates and I (including the 2nd year students) will be giving a final presentation to everyone involved in the program about our work during the semester. I can’t wait to see what everyone has accomplished!

The finished product for our third assignment in Anatomical Visualization.

This was the most challenging project for me thus far in the year, as I can't help but take my time in rendering volume. Unfortunately for me, that meant that parts of this drawing suffered (as well as my sleep schedule, yuck) as I balanced my time between classes. As it stands though, I'm happy with the result. I got into a conversation with a classmate about preferred pencil types, and though I primarily use a 2B pencil, I began this project with an HB -- the same weight as a standard #2 pencil. After I gave the piece an overall tone with the HB, I went in with a 2B and eventually put in some deep darks with an Ebony pencil. We referenced the heart from the cadavers in the Gross Lab, and sketching from the actual organ was a fantastic experience! I wish I had a little more time to go in and sketch on my own in the lab -- maybe after this exam I'll set some time aside to just work in there with my sketchbook.

Besides working on this project, I've spent my time going over anatomy lectures and taking thorough notes for the past couple of weeks. Even though it takes a long time and can be kind of strenuous (my professor packs so much information into just one sentence!), concepts are repeated throughout each lecture. I'm guessing those are the ones that will appear on our next exam, which is a little more than a week away.  Wish me luck!