The Role of Medical Illustration in Visualizing and Understanding Microbes


Medical illustration has been a practice used for centuries to help physicians understand the complex nuances of the human body. Medical illustrators are able to produce detailed 3D images of viruses and their impact on the body, making them great consultants for researchers in the medical field. In order to maintain their certification, medical illustrators are required to continue their extensive training in the medical field, thus adding to their value as consultants. 

To put it in layman’s terms, medical illustration is the process of using art to bring medical and healthcare information to life in research, textbooks, instructional videotapes, and even presentations. This blog post is going to focus on the role that medical illustration plays in the visualization and understanding of microbes. In the past couple of months, we’ve seen this become a life-saving artwork as the world got swept into one of the most dangerous pandemics in recent times. 

The Process of Illustrating Microbiota in the Human Body

It’s essential that professional illustrators are able to work alongside medical practitioners and researchers to create graphics that truly detail the subject. 

  1. Information gathering for illustration Research the microbiota so that the artist has a firm understanding of its details. An accurate depiction cannot be made without all of the info.
  2. Character sketches Artists will begin with the raw sketches of the microbiota. These sketches usually are the outline that depicts the basic microscopic look of the microbes.
  3. Detailing of the sketches Based on the research data, illustrators develop the sketches to further detail the microbes’ shape, structure, and other elements. 
  4. Importing into the tool Start translating the sketch into the chosen graphic design program. This is the step where the microbiota is detailed.
  5. Coloring and texturing The work on the final drawing can be started at this stage with the actual color and texture. This is definitely the most time-consuming step and will require attention to detail.
  6. Verification Illustrations are verified by medical professionals and scientists to ensure that every detail is perfect. Notes are then taken and expanded on.
  7. Final touchups Revisions are made to the final drawing to ensure all details are perfect. 

Visualizing the Elements of a Pandemic with Medical Illustration Art

When most people think of fighting a pandemic, they visualize a group of scientists in a laboratory stocked with test tubes and equipment. They don’t even consider graphic designers. But the most recent coronavirus pandemic has shown us just how powerful of a weapon graphic design can be when fighting a pandemic. We’ve seen medical illustrators all around the globe working with scientists to understand this terrible virus. 

It Became the Poster Image for the Coronavirus Pandemic

Almost everyone reading this post will have seen the picture of COVID-19 that serves as a poster for the virus. It’s the spiky globe that is decorated in triangular red shapes and a few orange freckles. Most people probably think it’s a computer-generated image, but actually, it’s an illustration designed by a pair of now-famous medical illustrators. 

The goal of the image was to put in as much detail possible to the visual display to help people be able to visualize the virus. This custom illustration became a prime example of how graphic design can become a powerful tool in the process of spreading awareness and fighting pandemics.

Information Must be Accurate

Information that is incorrect, faulty, or flat out wrong can be dangerous, so accuracy is paramount. With medical illustration work, a multi-step process is used to ensure that the graphics are completely accurate. This process is heavy on research and scientific input. 

Using the coronavirus pandemic as an example, once again, we can see this in action. Extensive research and consultations were exhausted in order to create the medical illustrations used to combat this deadly virus. Students of this craft have to follow the same educational path as medical peers so that they can ensure accurate drawings. Whether they specialize in surgical illustration, dental illustration, or just general health illustration, they are required to study their field vigorously. 

Consider the Audience in Order to Reach the Most People

Part of the research done before medical illustration begins is to consider the audience. So, consider who the illustration is designed to teach and have this audience in mind as the graphic is being created. For instance, spreading information to the public is much different than an illustration used to teach a surgeon a new procedure. 

Microbiota illustrations are no different. They have many different goals and potential uses. Visualization is powerfully motivating, and people are more likely to perceive danger from something they can see with their own eyes. 

Medical Illustration Portfolios are Massive and Innovative

Even though all of the training and expertise that goes into mastering this craft, we are still at a point where most people don’t even have knowledge of its existence. People are constantly exposed to microbiota illustrations, but they never consider the processes used to create it. Most people just believe that it’s a computer-generated image. The truth is that a lot of the work filling the portfolios of medical illustrators is extremely innovative. 

To an extent, these images are created using technology but only in the fact that technology is used as the medium for their creation. That’s where innovation meets artistic talent. 

Medical Illustrations Provide a Great Opportunity to Map Concepts

In research, having the ability to map data is one of the best visualization tools in the world. The same thing can be done with microbes. By illustrating them in detail, teams are able to visualize potential relationships between different layers, as well as the virus’s impact on the human body. Mapping aids in the creation of diagnosis creates a safe testing environment and the development of vaccines. 

Benefits of Visual Illustration of Microbes

Illustration of medical microbes provides a fascinating insight into how these viruses affect the human body. They communicate essential information about deadly viruses like COVID-19. There are some hugely beneficial points to creating these accurate depictions of microbes. 

  • Training of healthcare staff Visual illustration is one of the most effective mediums of training the healthcare staff. 
  • Research reference in visual form Additional to the detailed research documents, graphical illustrations help in referencing key information pointers.
  • Spreading awareness on the disease People of different age groups and educational backgrounds can easily grasp the graphical illustration of even the complex medical conditions.
  • Visual information on the treatment process Illustration of the treatment process for new diseases, new medical technologies, methods, and instruments intrigue interest and belief.
  • Informative study on drugs and their effects on microbes Illustration on the drug effects on the human body and how it cures the microbes can establish the faith of common people on the research and its effectiveness.
  • Visual content on dos and don’ts Illustration is a great medium of spreading awareness on the dos and don’ts regarding the criticality of a deadly virus or infection.

Ensure that Microbe Illustrations are Flawless

Again, mistakes in these illustrations can lead to a range of detrimental, adverse results that hinder important research. It’s important to rely on a medical illustration team backed by subject-matter experts to depict the medical conditions accurately. 

The teams at Artwork Abode (AWA) have all gone through extensive training and can perform the highest quality medical illustrations. With a brigade of specialized medical illustration services, such as surgical illustration, dental illustration, vintage medical illustration, and anatomical illustration, AWA helps in preparing medical reference documents and spreading awareness.

– Artwork abode

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