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The Different Mediums used to Create Medical Illustration - Part 2

Posted by Joanna Culley on

Black and White Line Work Illustration

Black and White Line Work Illustration: Acupuncture Point Zu San Li

Illustrating in the line work medium has many advantages for a client; it works well depicting anatomy and the customer appeal for line work is how it shows key anatomy that’s easy on the eye and the anatomy is quick to decipher. The advantage to this is that patients can quickly ascertain the illustrations educational message.

There can also be cost-savings for clients too when it comes to their reproducing a black and white image as opposed to colour, especially when printing images within leaflets and booklets on a larger scale. The printing cost charges are less because a printing company is not having to use colour in its printing processes.

Line work illustrations can be combined with different mediums with the line work used to emphasise key details. For example the main outline can be drawn in black and white, and colour used for the area of interest. This helps focus attention to the anatomical area or functions in question.

The drawings are often very impactful because of the contrast between colours and black and white.  They also have a simple yet beautiful quality about them that is less likely to date and fall out of fashion. From a commercial perspective, the good news for clients is that they do not have to update their illustrations so frequently.



Watercolour Medical Image: Eye Transverse Section

Anatomical art in watercolour is perceived to be a dying art. The fact remains that when customers become aware that watercolour is an option they will often request this medium for their project.

The feedback is because of the aesthetic appeal and beauty of illustrations created in watercolour. And because the digital medium is so widely used clients like to have an option the option to choose the medium that will best suit their project.

Because watercolour has an opacity when applied to paper that is hard to duplicate in a digital medium the result it achieves is a very soft, gentle, easy on the eye look due in part to its translucent qualities and also due to how the artist handles the watercolour paint. It can therefore be a preferred medium to depict certain types of medical conditions or anatomical areas that need to be treated more sensitively: women’s anatomy and health is often illustrated in watercolour for example. 

The Japanese culture also favours the use of watercolour illustration in books, so a global publisher client may be very specific about choosing stock or custom medical art created in watercolour as their preferred medium, to ensure sales of its books for their Japanese market.  

Watercolour is also a good match for illustrating painful, unpleasant conditions as it helps to reduce the ‘scare’ factor associated with these types of illnesses. It is also a more popular choice when illustrating images of graphic, invasive procedures as the gentle, subtle style helps to educate and inform without offending or upsetting the viewer.

One of the great advantages of watercolour is its enduring, timeless quality. Artwork is less likely to become unfashionable or out-dated. The subtleties of watercolour lends itself well to all subjects and especially depicting anatomy.

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