Who are scientific and medical illustrators and what do they do?
Scientific and medical illustrators are artists who illustrate concepts in science and medicine, often for explanational or educational purposes. There is a strong emphasis on the accuracy of information preseneted in the drawing. When people think of scientific/medical illustrators, they often think about textbook illustrations or museum displays. This is only part of what they do. Think also forensic reconstruction, animation, and prosthetics. The possibilities are endless.
What’s the difference between scientific and medical illustration?
Scientific illustration includes all sciences, although people often use it to refer to natural science illustration. Medical illustration is a subset of scientific illustration, focusing on the human anatomy, clinical techniques, or anything related to the human body. There is no sharp distinction between the two, so sometimes the same illustration can be both.
Why can’t we just take photographs or use computers to generate images?
Sometimes things cannot be photographed or are more time consuming to photograph. Examples of such include concepts and theories, or large objects where details in varying depths must be shown in focus. Other times an illustrator is needed to bring things to life–such as reconstructing an extinct animal, showing a visible human body in motion, and showing how molecules interact. To read a discussion on this, see my entry “FAQ–Why Aren’t Illustrators Extinct?”
Many illustrators do use computers as their medium. However, computers do not replace the need for illustrators because it is as much a tool as a painter’s brush. Computers can be used to speed up the working process, or to create images that are difficult to create using traditional methods, but the idea, composition, and craftsmanship of the final piece of artwork still depend on the skill of the illustrator.
Which schools offer programs for scientific and medical illustration?
Iowa State University offers an undergraduate biological and pre-medical illustration program.
The University of California, Santa Cruz Extension offers a graduate certificate program in science illustration.
The Rhode Island School of Design also has a certificate program in natural science illustration.
The Johns Hopkins University has a graduate program in medical and biological illustration.
University of Illinois in Chicago offers a graduate program in biomedical visualization.
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center offers a graduate program in biomedical communications.
The Medical College of Georgia department of medical illustration:
The University of Toronto biomedical communications program is the only medical illustration program in Canada. http://www.bmc.med.utoronto.ca/bmc/