Monday, August 24, 2009

Week Three into Four- Transition

Due to the new medical school curriculum at Hopkins, last week was kind of a hodgepodge of projects. We did not have time to make a second continuous tone (black and white) illustration, so we just ended up turning our hipbone drawings into illustrations. My illustration highlights the basic anatomy of the human hemipelvis and focuses on the three parts of the hip bone: the ilium, ischium and pubis.

It was a simple project to teach us about leader lines and basic layouts in illustrator. I think it came out pretty textbook/ a success! Still strange to think that I drew that...

I much preferred the trip we took on Friday! We went to the Smithsonian Naturalist Center in Leesburg, VA, which is an incredible place (especially for artists and kids)! It's an overflow museum for the Natural History Museum in DC, so there are hundreds of specimens there. The good thing about this place is that you can touch and move the specimens to get a closer look. We took a class trip there to sketch the specimens all day (though I could have stayed and sketched for three days). They even have two polar bears and a bengal tiger. Super (nerd) cool.

These are just a few of my sketches from that day. They are all from taxidermied specimines, except the beetles, of course.

Their avian collection is wonderful.

I've always been fond of beetles. Drawing them. Not in real life. Eww.

I still preferred the birds.

These were just fairly quick gesture sketches, not final pieces. Still very fun.

I suppose I should get back to my notes on the Thorax for tomorrows lecture and dissection. Anatomy will be the hardest class I have ever taken (and probably will ever take). It's time for me to get my old AP History and AP Biology study habits out of the closet, dust them off...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week Two Recap- Carbon Dust Method

And so, the journey continues. I think I'm finally beginning to find my way around the department, which is both good and bad since I will be taking a break from assigned projects for the next couple of months due to Anatomy! Before that, however, I have to tweak my carbon dust hipbone drawing.

I really enjoy carbon dust as a medium since it's like a combination between drawing and painting. We used chemical grade carbon dust (looks like fine black powder) for brushing on and Wolff's Carbon Pencils for touch ups and finer details. I was partial to the pencil, of course, since I love fine line art.

Without further ado, the process! I took all of my photographs at the end of the day, so each one represents a full day's work.

Day One: Background, background, background.

I used large complexion brushes and a Japanese Hake brush to lay down the background values first with the dust. It was a strange way of painting, since it takes a very long time to build up the correct value. The background alone in this picture probably took 50 or more washes with the brush. This is the most important step because if the value of the background is off, the entire bone and shadow area will also be off. It would still look good, but it would be a mistake that even an undiscerning eye would see as "just off."

Day Two: "sculpting out" the bone

This was probably my favorite working day of this project. Once I laid the shadows in, I went back with a kneaded eraser (And various other erasers. I cannot live without this Stanford Tuff Stuff eraser anymore.) and took out the highlights on the bone and in the background. This was the first time the bone started to really take shape. I call it "sculpting" because it really felt more like I was pulling the bone out from the paper than putting it on top. Philosophical, I know, but it's the kind of thing that makes me super excited. : )

Day Three: Refining

This was a dog day for me. I put much more detail into the area above the acetabulum (the big, dark hole) where there are a bunch of foramina (tiny,little holes) and also refined the blotches in the shadow. This day was all about transitioning from the general to the details. I'd rather not talk about it...

Day Four: Get your magnifying glass

Ok, so I didn't actually use a magnifying glass, but it was all about the details. As my teacher would say, this is the day it stops looking like "drift wood" and begins looking like a bone. This is where I got to use my lovely carbon pencils and Tuff Stuff eraser, my favorites!

Day 5: Critique Day

Here is the critique ready piece matted. I was incredibly nervous, not gonna lie. It's a little nerve wracking having all of the faculty, some of the most established and acclaimed illustrators in the country, looking at and critiquing your work. I survived though, with a much better idea about what I executed well and what I need to tweak (which thankfully isn't a lot!). Oh, in case you're wondering, I took this photo in overhead, florescent light, so it's not as good or dramatic as I want. : ( Still, gives you an idea though!

I just wanted to put this in here because I was thinking about it all week. I've been listening to Pandora radio stations all week (on my free Pandora app, which I love!) while I worked on my bone. By the end of the week, I actually found that I had different musical taste depending on which part of the bone I was working was weird. I couldn't listen to the wrong kind of music or it would totally throw me off. So, here's the bone in terms of working music! Maybe you can tell which musical artist gives me the best inspiration. : )

As you can see, I listened to everything from classical choral ensembles by Eric Whitacre, to hardcore metal band Dragonforce to 50 Cent. So I have an eclectic taste in music...sue me. : ) There may also be some BSB featuring 90's pop in there too...guilty pleasure.

Next week, we will be oriented into the new anatomy building an laboratory. Beginning the last week in August it's goodbye studio, hello anatomy and dissection! But don't think that's the end of my drawings! I get to stick around at the end of class and draw from my cadaver. More to post on that later, I'm sure.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Week One Recap

Hello wonderful world of blogging! I am a current Medical & Biological Illustration Student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, and this is my illustration/sketch/art blog. See my title, MDArt? M.D. as in doctor and MD as in Maryland. Pretty clever, huh? I thought it was clever...

To be honest, I am not much of a writer at all. In fact, I'm a pretty horrible writer. So why have a blog? I am a huge fan of Drawn!, an illustration and cartooning blog I visit daily. They constantly update with links to artists' sites and blogs...of which I have neither! Seriously, you'd think a budding illustrator would have some record of her art on the web for someone to find! Second, when I was telling people I would start in August at Johns Hopkins for Medical Illustration, the most common reaction was excitement that slowly morphed into confusion. "Oh wow, Johns Hopkins! Now...what will you be doing again?" Hopefully this blog will shed some light on what exactly medically illustrators do.

I guess the best way to describe what they do is to show a current project! Our first assignment is a traditional continuous tone drawing of a hipbone. Every class has done this project since the program began 98 years ago. Although they began with different bones, these particular bones have been around for at least the past 30 or so years. Certain teachers will walk in, look at a piece in progress and say "Oh my gosh, that's my bone you're drawing!" It's kind of neat.

This is a photograph of my bone at the correct drawing POV: (my images are from my phone, so hopefully the colors aren't too bad with the light!)

Aah, it looks so familiar to me this way. And now, for a sketch progression. I like to do these so I can see my process and refine it for later drawings.

Hipbone Week One-Preliminary sketch

Day 1: basic proportions

You would think this part would be easy. Just draw like I always do. Yeah, that's what I thought. However, the goal of this project is not to have what looks like a great drawing of a bone. It's to have a drawing so real and to scale that it looks like a photograph of the bone, with correct tone, lighting, and proportion. This means that our proportions have to be perfectly 1:1 with our bone, and all angles have to be correct. Here it is at the end of day 1.

Day 2: refining

By this point, I'd made a ton of changes, but you'd never notice them unless I pointed them out, like the Obturator foramen (the big "loop" at the bottom of the bone). See how it's much longer and skinnier in this one? Perfect proportion is not easy!

Day 3: details, lighting and final sketch

Ok, now I was just showing off. This is just a prelim sketch, so it didn't have to be so detailed. But why not, right? At this point, the proportions are pretty spot on. It doesn't look much different proportion wise from the first one but, believe me, it is.

After this step, I transferred the outline of my sketch on to a piece of Strathmore charcoal paper for the final drawing. By this point, I've put in almost 24 hours of drawing time on this one sketch, which is more time than I've put into any 11x17 drawing in my entire life. However, I think the proportion turned out really great, so it was worth it in the end. I would think after 100 years they have their process down for this assignment. Next post, I'll update with the carbon dust method we use to create the final drawing!