A blog about scientific and medical visualization and all that’s involved.

Archive for January, 2008

Edible Endangered Species

Posted by Janet on January 31, 2008


I promise I’ll post some very exciting videos this weekend, but it’s been a very long day so this’ll have to be short. Anyway, Barney’s isn’t exactly the place you’d expect to find things related to natural science illustrations, but look how anatomically correct these animals are! These are the most detailed lifelike animals I’ve ever seen as chocolate. It bothers me a little that the heads are cut off and mounted as if they’re encouraging people to kill animals, when in reality part of the sale goes to the World Society for the Protection of Animals. Depending on your taste, this could be a nice gift for your favorite science illustrator. On sale at Barney’s for $12.00

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Mouthwash as Pen Cleaner?

Posted by Janet on January 30, 2008

Pen and ink is one of my favorite media. I love the clean lines you can get with a good technical pen, but cleaning Rapidographs is always such a pain. Typically I just use some rubbing alcohol, but when I have pen emergencies and no rubbing alcohol, I go for the mouthwash. It works, and leaves your pen nibs minty fresh. I started buying different kinds of mouthwash just to see which brand works the best. The usual blue/green ones like Scope and Listerine are ok, but I find that Tom’s of Maine mouthwash (which by the way is alcohol free) was able to remove some old ink residues that even rubbing alcohol can’t remove. It’s also clear so you can see your pens better. Now don’t get your hopes up too much because I have yet to find something that completely removes old ink and leaves those pen nibs and plastic ink cartridges shining flawlessly. I’m curious to see if anyone has tried anything else that works.

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Ear Prosthesis Part 1

Posted by Janet on January 29, 2008

ear-cast.jpgI’m taking a modeling class right now and our first project is a human ear prosthesis. It’s very exciting and I will be posting updates until it is done. This picture above shows the cast I made yesterday of a classmate’s ear. Later we’ll be sculpting the opposite ear and eventually making a prosthesis of that ear.

A lot of the materials we use are the same as those used for dental casting. We started by sealing an area outside the ear with boxing wax and stuffing some cotton down our partner’s ear canal. Very quickly we mixed and syringed alginate over the ear, covering everything. Since alginate remains soft and gel-like, some plaster was poured over the whole thing to help the mold hold its form. Once the mold was finished, I mixed some dental stone and poured it into the mold. While waiting for the stone to set, I got a cast of my own ear made by my partner.

Although the process sounds fairly straightforward, it was seven hours before I went home. Part of it was waiting time, and part of it was the time it took to clean up all the imperfections. But at the end of the day I got to take home this piece of ear to show everybody and that makes it all worthwhile.

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Posted by Janet on January 25, 2008

For those of you interested in seeing the magnified world, this is a wonderful book. Not to be confused with the French documentary with the same title (although you should check that out too if you want to see insects and other invertebrates magnified), this book contains over 200 microscopy images. Each spread includes a photograph as well as a concise paragraph by Brandon Broll describing the subject and method of capture. Microcosmos covers a wide range of subjects from living things to minerals to man-made objects. I especially love the diatoms shown on the cover here. Some man-made objects such as tissue paper or used razor blades are equally fascinating. I can see this being a useful reference for someone who wants to do 3D modeling on the microscopic world. Even to illustrate something microscopic, or just have it because the pictures are nice, this is a good book to have. Microcosmos by Brandon Broll, available on for $19.77

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Posted by Janet on January 22, 2008

After months and months of procrastinating, I finally got this blog started. I first got the idea to start a blog about two years ago when I went into scientific illustration and honestly just couldn’t find any websites where people actually talk and share experiences about being a science illustrator. Now I’m back in school studying medical illustration and what better time to start writing?

I chose the title “Revealed” because sometimes it just seems like no one knows who scientific and medical illustrators are, what we do, and how we think. I keep getting the same questions, and I can never forget people’s faces when they find out that I’m in school for “medical illustration” instead of “medicine.” I feel like they’re disappointed that I’m not going to graduate and save lives every day. I hope, through this blog, that I can begin to “reveal” who we are by sharing ideas and techniques about projects, getting feedback from people, sharing other people’s works, and in general just starting a community with people who are passionate about scientific and medical illustrations.

Lastly, thanks to everyone who helped me and supported me in any way related to this blog!

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