Would you consider yourself a SciArtist?
I do! I find most of my artistic inspiration and interests from connecting the beauty of the natural world and putting it onto pen and paper. Most of my previous work have been commissions, but I have also been able to illustrate for scientific publications as well.
One of the courses that you illustrated for LIFE Ascent was on Metabolic Health Markers. When looking at the script for the course what were your initial impressions?
When I first read through the script, the first visual impressions that popped into my head were to think of the body as a giant, well-oiled machine that needs to be continually maintained. Having a character like Louise navigate and work through this environment was something that I could work off of.
Are visual notes a useful starting point? Did you make any decisions to develop ideas further?
I initially start the illustration process with an initial set of rough sketches, in which I begin to experiment with the central characters, background pieces, and themes. Once I have these core features worked out, I like to expand it later on in storyboarding.
Do you use storyboarding in other work?
I personally find creating timelines and outlines to be incredibly useful in my everyday life, whether it be with my research, teaching or art. Particularly for Lifeology courses and its card format, I find storyboarding to be essential. My goal is always to tie central themes throughout the cards and plan out where to add additional visuals or concepts. As well, doing a storyboard helps me stay “grounded” with the overall artistic style and themes to make sure that it is consistent throughout.
Can you tell us a little more about how you get from visual idea to storyboard image to final rendered piece?
A great example of how I oftentimes go through my science illustrations is to set an initial idea from the text, get feedback and perspectives from others, and incorporate them to create a final piece that is more meaningful. Below is a card to symbolize the human body as a factory, which is based on the text:
“Like in a power plant, thousands of chemical reactions happen inside of you, in your cells, every day. Some reactions convert food you eat into energy.”
My focus on it was initially to convey the idea of the body more literally as a power plant or factory, with it bursting with the energy it is creating. This theme evolved once I got more feedback to focus on the second sentence and how to think about the conversion of food to energy. From this, I decided to anthropomorphize the factory into a being that is being fed. As you can see, the final version piece looks quite different from the storyboard, however, the themes and concepts remain the same. This change helped personalize the setting to the audience and became a repeating backdrop for the course.