SciArt Magazine - All Issues - Page 10

SPOTLIGHT Drawing on Science A Peek Into the World of Scientific Illustration Human Immunodeficiency Virus by Alexey Kashpersky © 2013. This cosmic-looking image of the HIV virus was created using a threedimensional molecular modeling program called cellPACK and Cinema 4D. It won first prize in an international contest sponsored by CGSociety. By Raphael Rosen Contributor Somewhere in the United States an artist is picking up pencils and paper and walking into a hospital operating room. Instead of creating gesture drawings or painting a landscape, this artist is looking over the shoulder of a thoracic surgeon, taking notes and making sketches that will become an image in a medical textbook or a slide in a physician’s conference presentation. Still lifes and naked models? Think instead of scalpels, clamps, and human organs. Welcome to the world of the science illustrator. In this world, the paintbrush is just as important as the microscope. Science illustration encompasses not just medicine, but paleontology, geology, biology, zoology, astronomy, and anatomy. Almost all of the various scientific subfields need professionals who can communicate the nub of their discoveries in a visual way. And from the looks of the numbers and activity of science illustrators, the state of science illustration looks healthy. Peruse the website of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators (GNSI), a group founded in 1968, and you’ll notice that it has chapters in Illinois, New England, California, upstate New York, North Carolina’s Research Triangle, the Great Lakes, Washington, D.C., and has recently expanded across the Atlantic into Portugal. The 10 group sponsors an annual conference as well, with a list of activities that would make any SciArt aficionado drool. For instance, last year’s conference—held in Bar Harbor, ME—featured a tantalizing slate of classes including “Painting Small Mammals,” “Floral Morphology,” “How to Make Realistic-Looking Three-Dimensional Plant Models,” “Preserving Specimens in Resin,” “Sculpting Insects in Polymer and Wire,” and “How to Paint a Kick-Ass Radish.” One workshop in the 2012 conference taught participants the ins and outs of creature design, teaching illustrators how to combine “zoological and paleontological illustration.” The GNSI also publishes a quarterly journal, as well as sponsoring educational workshops; last year’s workshop in Ames, IA focused on depicting slipper orchids in watercolor. Another professional science illustration organization—the Association of Medical Illustrators—is even older. Established in 1945, the AMI now has over 800 members on four continents. Its members share information about how to draw up contracts, set fees, use Adobe Photoshop, and create different effects using pen and ink. According to their website, the AMI tries to be “key partners in the process of scientific discovery, knowledge transfer, and innovation, and to be recognized as the premier global resource for promoting the power of SciArt in America February 2014