Medical illustrations are needed for a variety of applications from lectures to publications and can include everything from editorial illustrations and comics to step-by-step surgical illustrations, molecular processes, and highly-detailed anatomical art. Illustrations can be simple line drawings, include flat color fills, or be highly rendered.
I am often asked what medical illustration, who hires medical illustrators, and what the process is like to work with a medical illustrator. Hopefully, I can answer some of those questions here.
What is medical illustration?
Medical illustration (or “medical art” because “illustration” is really too limiting a term, though it is more commonly used) is any visual element that is created to communicate medical or scientific information. The first and best example is probably anatomical art like you see in an anatomy atlas or biology textbook. However, medical art also includes graphs, charts, infographics, logo design, product design, web design, marketing, interactive design and development, 3D model design, game design, medical comics, editorial illustrations, and animations.
There are so many different places and industries where visuals are essential to successfully communicate scientific concepts. The more difficult the concept, the more visuals can help to clarify the information. Those visuals can include a variety of formats: 2D illustrations, 3D models, interactives, games, and animations.
Who can benefit from working with a medical illustrator?
Clients for medical illustrators can include publishers, researchers, medical and healthcare professionals, wellness professionals, athletic trainers, medical device and tech companies, medical and scientific writers, and the entertainment industry.
Why hire a medical illustrator?
What makes professional medical illustrators different from other illustrators, is that the artists have a strong understanding of science. This scientific background leads to greater accuracy and clarity within the illustration, as well as increased ease of communication between the client/content expert and the illustrator.
Ever wondered what it’s like to work with a professional medical illustrator on a commission?
The client tells the illustrator what they are trying to communicate and how the final images will be presented. This opens a dialogue between the illustrator and client about the specifics of the project including licenses, files types and sizes, expectations, etc.
The illustrator can then create a Project Estimate and initial Work Agreement which outline the details of the project including the anticipated time to completion, cost, and final deliverables. From this a contract will be generated.
Once the contract is signed, general Preliminary sketches (either traditional or digital) are created. This gives the artist a chance for visual brainstorming. Sketches are reviewed by content experts and/or clients to ensure the final illustration will achieve the goals of the project and meet the client’s expectations. It also gives the illustrator an opportunity to make changes to improve accuracy or adjust the design. After a client approves the sketch, the final artwork is created!
The final illustrations are then delivered to the client in the agreed upon format with the agreed upon license.