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

Archive for July, 2008

Christian the Lion–Reunion

Posted by Janet on July 30, 2008

For whatever reason several people passed me this video this week. It’s a video of the reunion between two people and a lion they raised that has been reintroduced into the wild. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ll be amazed.

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AMI Stuff Posted

Posted by Janet on July 29, 2008

I have most of the AMI stuff posted, but I rearranged them back to the dates of the actual conference. Go here or scroll down if you would like to read it.

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If Fonts Were People…

Posted by Janet on July 25, 2008

Fonts have personalities, and if they were people, they’d be acting like this:

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The Making of an Eye

Posted by Janet on July 21, 2008

If you have seen my posts about the prosthetic ear, I am now taking a continuation of that course this summer. For two classes we made a prosthetic eye. Since summer classes are typically accelerated, we focused on materials and techniques for making the eye and left out any patient-specific parts of the process for the next class. Read on for a summary of this process.

First my instructor demonstrated painting the iris. Here he is attaching an ocular button (the transparent half-sphere with a peg on one end) to an ocular disc, the surface on which we paint iris patterns.

Holding onto the peg of the ocular button, the iris is painted onto the disc.

Later the ocular button is removed (from the back side) and another one is glued to the front side. We used an existing prosthetic eye to make a mold since we were not working from patients. Typically a cast would have to be made from a patient’s eye and the mold would be made from this cast.
From Right to Left: painted ocular disc, ocular disc with ocular button attached to the front, and an existing eye from which we will make a mold.

The mold is covered in tin foil to prevent moisture from contaminating the materials. The ocular button with painted disc (middle in above picture) is placed into the mold, with the peg inserted into the hole in the mold so it would stay in place. White acrylic is prepared and placed into the mold. The mold is then pressed tight and placed in a heat curing unit.

This is what the eye looks like when removed from the mold. It was sanded down until smooth and that the clear part of the ocular button is once again visible. The sclera was tinted slightly and blood vessels added. The eye was then placed back into the mold with clear acrylic covering the front side this time.

Once the acrylic cures, the eye was removed from the mold. The rough edges were sanded away and the entire eye was polished to a high shine.

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AMI Day 5

Posted by Janet on July 20, 2008

By this day the majority of the people have left. There were a few morning lectures but overall things have died down. Most people left last night after the Versalius Trust live auction. I stayed, but ended up sleeping in and missed all the morning lectures.

Next year’s conference will take place in Richmond, Virginia. It’s a great opportunity to meet people, especially those whose names you’ve heard but haven’t met. If I go next year, I’ll definitely attend some workshops, and maybe stay for 3-4 days only.

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AMI Day 4

Posted by Janet on July 19, 2008

A lot of people had left by the fourth day. Those who stayed, myself included, had stopped taking vigorous notes and started dressing down.

My day began with the second talk given by “Charles Darwin.” It was actually Craig Gosling dressed up as Darwin, but you could almost believe he was Darwin. “Darwin” showed slides as he talked about his life and the importance of illustrators to him during his career.

Of the concurrent sessions in the afternoon, I attended part of a poster session (just enough to gain inspirations and come up with a research topic to fulfill my graduation requirement) before going back to the hotel room to nap. Then I went back to the next talk by Ahmet Sinav, who showed a series of anatomical mistakes that appeared in anatomical atlases from past to present.

The evening was concluded with a dinner and live auction.

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AMI Days 3

Posted by Janet on July 18, 2008

Session 1
Arthur Olson and Graham Johnson spoke about the history of molecular visualization and what they do at the Molecular Graphics Lab at Scripps College. The lab produced physical models of molecules using rapid prototyping, then used these models for educational and research purposes. Some models have magnets embedded in certain areas to simulate molecular interactions. Sensors attached to molecules or used by itself could be augmented with computer graphics to represent different side chains of a molecule (see below). Different side chains can be substituted digitally, and the molecules could be held in place on screen for researchers to observe the physical fit between two molecules.

Above: Dr. Olson demonstrated computer augmentation in real time.

Below: A physical model of the beta sheet structure. Magnets allow flexible parts of the model to snap into their most stable form.

Session 2
In this lecture, Charles Falco presented many evidence showing that artists dating back to the 1430s used optics to help construct realistic details in their paintings. Evidence of optics were discovered during a collaboration between Charles Falco and David Hockney, and this discovery is now termed “The Hockney-Falco Thesis.” Visit to see clips from the documentary “David Hockney’s Secret Knowledge,” read an article, or buy the book.

Techniques Showcase and Versalius Trust Silent Auction
In the afternoon, a series of small group presentations take place simultaneously in a large room. It’s like a mini-classroom where you can sit down with experts to learn techniques in traditional medial, digital media, and to get a closer look at visualization methods presented in some of the earlier lectures. You have the option to walk between station, or sit through an entire session. A silent auction takes place in an adjacent room to raise funds for the Versalius Trust. Anyone can bring items to donate. Some items at the auction include medical books, surgical instruments, watercolor palettes, anatomy models, original artworks, and anatomy-inspired jewelries.

Above: Graham Johnson talking about molecular models at the Techniques Showcase.

Below: Tim Phelps demonstrating pen and ink technique.

Below: Underside of a pair of shoes at the silent auction.

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Random Thoughts

Posted by Janet on July 17, 2008

I just realized that the author of Visualizing Evolution Heidi Reichter is also blogging live from the AMI meeting. I have yet to meet her but maybe I’ll randomly run into her and say hi.

It’s such an unusual feeling to see so many medical illustrators at one place. No one thinks we’re morbid, and it’s normal to see a talk where the presenter shows severed human parts or unattractive positions on the slide shows. I randomly ran into a former medical illustrator at a nearby bookstore and he had no idea the conference was going on right here. He was pretty excited to meet us until we told him there’s about 300 more medical illustrators a block away. Upon hearing the information he packed up everything and headed over right away.

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AMI Day 2–Afternoon

Posted by Janet on July 17, 2008

Session 4
The afternoon was packed with concurrent sessions, so even though all of them looked interesting, you could only choose three out of seven. The first session I attended was called Anatomical Theater: History of Museum Artifacts. The speaker, Joanna Ebenstein from Morbid Anatomy, spoke about her photographic exhibition called “Anatomical Theater: Depictions of the Body, Disease, and Death in Medical Museums of the Western World.” This exhibition documents artifacts in medical museums, mostly in Europe. For more information about this exhibit and to see the list of museums she visited, go to

From Left to Right: Joanna Ebenstein, Vanessa Ruiz, and myself.

Session 5
Bob Demarest points out many subtle anatomical features that are easily overlooked by untrained medical illustrators. His lecture hit home with the idea that medical illustrators are specially trained to handle medical subjects with accuracy. An untrained competitor may be able to produce an equally beautiful drawing, but is less likely to hit the subject with the same precision.

Session 6
The last session of the day was a panel discussion several types of employment options for medical illustrators. Amanda Behr, Joanne Haderer Muller, Tonya Hines, Cynthia Turner, led the discussion and shared their experiences as medical illustrators.

The evening was concluded with an award banquet. Winners of various categories of the AMI Salon were announced. Other awards included the Versalius Trust scholarships, the AMI Lifetime Achievement Award, and more.

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AMI Day 2–Morning

Posted by Janet on July 17, 2008

The second day was packed with lectures–three in the morning and three more until dinner time. Then we have an hour until an award banquet, which is the most formal occasion at the AMI as various award winners are announced.

Session 1
The day began with a talk by Afshad Mistri and Steve Sandy about the technology of visualizing sets of two dimensional CT or MRI data in three dimensions. The talk focused on Osirix and Fovia with an ongoing demo on large screen of cutting edge features or features specifically designed for medical illustrators. It was concluded with a fly-through of the colon, during which transparency were adjusted so the audience could see structures on the outside.

Session 2
The second talk by Keith Kasnot and Craig Foster featured the process of designing and fabricating the “Ace of Hearts” motorcycle, an anatomically correct heart-themed motorcycle made to be presented to Dr. Edward B. Diethrich, founder of the Arizona Heart Institute as a lifetime achievement award. Keith Kasnot and Craig Foster developed the concept, then worked with motorcycle designer Paul Yaffe over a period of two years to create a working motorcycle and to ensure anatomical accuracy in the details.

Beginning of the fabrication process

Painting the tank

Craig Foster (left) and Keith Kasnot (right) on “Ace of Hearts”

Detail of the tank as an anatomically correct heart (as accurate as constraints allowed)

For more details shots of this heart bike, see

Session 3
Brad Holland, renowned advertising and editorial illustrator, spoke about the evolution of his style and personal growth as an illustrator. Brad Holland’s works have appeared in Playboy, the New York Times, Times, Avant Garde, The New Yorker, and many more. He is also the co-founder of the Illustrators Partnership of America.

Sketches by Brad Holland prior to his illustration career

One of the his earliest color illustrations, in his late-teens or early-twenties

After going to art school, Brad Holland steered away from realism and began the emergence of his style as we see today.

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