GNSI concurrent presentations cover current topics that are useful to a professional scientific illustrator including scientific research, art techniques, recent adventures, and more!
Monday, July 1, 2019 1:15pm - 2:15pm
A 300 Year Global Journey of Two Insects and a Cactus
Prickly pear cactus, native to the Americas, was introduced to Australia in 1788 in an attempt to produce a valuable reddish dye from cochineal insects that feed on the plant. Cochineal was taken by the Spanish from indigenous Aztec harvesters in Mexico and was highly valued in Europe due to its colour-fastness to dye fabric including the robes of royalty, British redcoats, and Betsy Ross’ first American flags among other uses. The Australian venture did not take hold, but the cactus spread and took over vast areas of Queensland, choking out the rangeland and making it impossible to farm or ranch. In the 1920s the cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum, was introduced from Argentina and the voracious cactus moth caterpillars in a short time saved Queensland in one of the most successful examples of weed biological control. Its success was world-renowned and so the cactus moth was introduced to new areas where prickly pear cactus was also a problem. Unfortunately, this included the Caribbean island of Nevis in the 1950s. From there, the cactus moth island-hopped and was eventually found in the Florida Keys in 1989. The cactus moth then spread along the Gulf Coast as far as Texas and now threatens diversity of native prickly pear species in the American Southwest and Mexico where it is an important component of desert ecosystems. Mexico also depends on prickly pear for food and other products as well as being important culturally. This presentation tells the history and current story with photographs, newsreel footage, and my outreach graphics from the standpoint as the national program manager from 2003-2007 in charge of US Department of Agriculture’s campaign to stop the spread of the cactus moth in North America.
Lesley Elkans & Catherine Wardrop
Illustration at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (RBG Sydney) the Past, Present and Future
As two of the few government-employed illustrators in Australia, Catherine Wardrop and Lesley Elkan have spent the last 20 years creating black and white scientific illustrations for publication of many New South Wales plants and other new species as described by fellow botanists. Their work follows in the footsteps of Margaret Flockton, who, at the beginning of their tenure, was little known outside of the RBG Sydney’s walls. The creation of the Margaret Flockton Award for Excellence in Scientific Botanical Illustration 15 years ago has allowed Margaret’s name to become well known in the botanical illustration field and pays homage to one of the finest botanical illustrators and lithographers Australia has seen.
The Flockton Award has also brought together solitary illustrators working in herbaria around the world and allowed their illustrations, rarely seen by the public, to be exhibited and awarded. This effect has driven further excellence and bought scientific illustration into the public realm for admiration and education.
In an illustrated presentation Lesley and Catherine will discuss the evolution of illustration at RBG Sydney, starting with Margaret Flockton through to the Flora of NSW revisions, their pen and ink and digital work of today’s taxonomy. The Margaret Flockton Award has grown and changed over the past 15 years: Lesley and Catherine will discuss staging an international award and exhibition in pre and post digital times. Participants will view a collection of winning works. Further to the Flockton Award, the illustrators will highlight the Florilegium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, now comprising of more than 90 works, which has wowed audiences in Australia and the United Kingdom in its touring exhibition “The Florilegium – Celebrating 200 years” donated to and housed in the Daniel Solander Library, RBG Sydney. The Florilegium; Banks and Solander 2020 anniversary collection that is currently being created will be of particular interest to the overseas artists.
Procreating with the iPad
Procreate® is a digital illustration software developed exclusively for the iPad. The goal of this talk is to give people a general overview of the possibilities of using the iPad and the Procreate. A few technical aspects will be shown but the talk is more focused in general aspects rather than a tutorial on how to paint. I will show some of the characteristics of the interface: how anyone can easily start selecting a canvas, a few brush types and start painting. I will exemplify the way I use it, go through a few projects and explain how I integrate it as part of my workflow. I will also select and show some work of other iPad artists, so people can have a brother idea of what can be done with this tool.
The talk will start by showing the project that was the subject of my previous talk in GNSI Washington DC in 2018: - "The Arctic Mandala". Last year I've shown the "work in progress" of this poster, this year I will show the finished poster and circulate a few printed copies so people can see the final result. Then I will focus on a few animals I've painted on the Mandala utilizing the iPad Pro with the software called Procreate®, and show the step by step process I've used. At the end of the talk, people will be able to paint a few strokes on my iPad to see how it feels. The level of detail that the apple pen can achieve, the similarity with the traditional techniques and the possibility of combining several techniques in the same illustration are a few of the characteristics I find surprising in this tool.
Monday, July 1, 2019 2:20pm - 3:20pm
Duets: The Dance of Symbiotic Relationships - A Watercolour Journey
“Duets: The Dance of Symbiotic Relationships” began as a personal journey painting 18 watercolour natural science illustrations, inspired by plant species found at the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver, BC, Canada. This series highlights unique plant adaptations and mutually beneficial relationships that have co-evolved between plants, insects, animals, and occasionally humans. The objective of this series is to increase awareness of the intricate interdependence of species within tropical ecosystems around the world, as well as our own dependence on plants. It touches on the importance of biodiversity, conservation, local culture, keystone species, migration, and symbiotic relationships through the visual storytelling lens of natural science and botanical illustration. These paintings formed the foundation for 12 interpretative panels created for public display in Vancouver and a book of the same name.
This presentation will discuss the techniques used, the challenges and solutions faced, and the logistics needed for the production of final interpretative panels.
The “Duets” project was honoured with the 2016 Anne Ophelia Dowden Artist and Education Award from the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA), and has been included in various books/journals including the Artists for Conservation - 2018 International Exhibit of Nature in Art; the Journal of Natural Science Illustration (Vol. 49. No 1. 2017); Nature through the Artist’s Eye: Maricopa Audubon Society (2018); and the Botanical Artist (Vol. 24, Issue 1, March 2018).
Species in this project include:
- Giant Pelican Flower/pollinator (Aristolochia gigantea/ Megaselia sp.);
- Tropical Pitcher plants/ Hardwicke’s woolly bat (Nepenthes hemsleyana/ Kerivoula hardwickii);
- Tea Tree/Kakariki parakeet (Leptospermum scoparium/ Cyanoramphus Novaezelandiae);
- Tank bromeliads/Poison Dart Frogs (Catopsis berteroniana/ Oophaga pumilio);
- African Popcorn plant/Human beings (Senna didymobotrya/ Homo sapiens);
- Succulent/Rufous hummingbird (Echeveria subsessillis/ Selasphorus rufus);
- Spiral Ginger/Magnificient hummingbird (Costus comosus/ Eugenes fulgens);
- Bird of Paradise/African Sunbird (Strelitzia reginae/ Cinnyris talatala);
- Coffee/Cerulean Warbler (Coffea arabica/ Dendroica cerulea)
Social Media Marketing A to Z
This is a fusion of my two favourite teaching topics: small business and web. Since the advent of the world wide web, websites have become more robust, interactive and social. Add to that the everyday use of mobile devices and everything is accessible on the go. For a small business to be successful at communicating its value proposition to customer segments, an online presence, either through a website or through social media, is essential.
This talk will focus on the variety of most effective social media tools and strategy, giving the viewer a better understanding of how to leverage these tools as channels to attract prospective clients. Emphasis will be focused on creating a cohesive online brand and message.
Monday, July 1, 2019 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Seurat, Pointillism, and Beyond - The Reconstruction of Plant Pigment Colour in Botanical Illustration
Colour is formed physiologically at the molecular level inside of a plant cell. We assume that the individual molecules within a cell are so small as to be inconsequential in this process of colour formation. It is also conventionally argued that we cannot begin to understand the interaction of photons of light with the pigment molecules inside the plant cell. It is the binary, complement, interaction of the absorption of specific frequencies of photons/wavelengths of light that interact with specific plant pigment molecules via absorption, excitation, electron transfer, and reflectance of those wavelength frequencies in intracellular spaces that form the overall sum composite reflectance of colour. This forms the reflectance colours that are perceived visually by the human eye.
This research proposes a system of mathematical algorithms and matrices to facilitate the reconstruction of physiological colour inside of a plant cell in order to delineate concise molecular colour formation in plants. Using Seurat’s method of Pointillism; I would like to bring the scale of a cell up to our level of visual perception, discuss locations of pigments inside cellular structures of plants, and how they react with one another to shed light on the formation of colour and challenge traditional thought concerning colour theory and botanical illustration.
The Real Indiana Jones
In many ways, Indiana Jones can be considered to represent a multi-faceted archetype that has been popular for at least 200 years. How did this most recent incarnation of the scholar/explorer come into existence? Who are some of the historical figures that might have been the inspiration for the character? If Indy’s lifestyle is one that people (both men and women) admire, what are some of the ways we can adopt and adapt practices that will enrich our lives? The work of scientific illustrators as it relates to the activities of Dr. Jones will be emphasized, as well as some examples of artwork that has resulted from a number of Rawlins’ own adventures around the world.
Deborah K. Haines
Collaboration, Educational, and Gaming: If we build it, with they come?
In a collaboration between the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM) and the University of Chicago–Biomedical Visualization Graduate Program (BVIS) to test the idea of shared teaching and learning from two perspectives.
Hypothesis: By developing a gaming application we will: 1) provide a client-based learning opportunity for graduate students to apply skills learned in their coursework and 2) test the viability of virtual reality and desktop/laptop gaming to learning outcomes for DVM students to learn how to assemble anesthesia equipment.
Goal: To determine if there is a direct, measurable benefit to all students.
- BVIS – Does this type of client-based learning opportunity provide the students with a better understanding of the application of “real-world” experiences outside of the classroom setting; and
- UTCVM – Is there an increased learning and comprehension through the use of the desktop/laptop gaming application compared to traditional teaching methodology.
Assessment: BVIS – Through ZOOM discussions/client interaction goals as well as the use of 3rd year DVM student testing at key stages during the development of the application (e.g., initial interface/tutorial; auditory guidance/voiceover; interactivity/sandbox/feedback).
UTCVM – Time spent on gaming application vs standard methodology. Is there any direct correlation between time and accuracy in the actual setup of equipment and understanding the role of each part of the system?
Tuesday, July 2, 2019 1:45pm - 2:45pm
Visual Power in Science Communication
Recently, more scientific journal publishers are requiring a graphical abstract – a single image to depict the paper’s main thrust or concept – to accompany the study. Eye-catching cover art is more likely to grab thousands of online views and attract a much wider audience than non-illustrated versions. Researchers are strongly suggested to use more visuals on their presentations for symposiums, seminars or press-releases. Working as a science communicator and an in-house science illustrator at one of the cutting-edge stem cell research institutes in Japan, Misaki realizes the visual power of science communication. In this presentation, she will talk about her experiences and work, and discuss why the demand is growing for science art and illustration to accompany research efforts and outcomes.
From Pencil to Scalpel - The Application of Scientific Illustration in the Art of Taxidermy
What do you picture when you think of taxidermy? A backwoods taxidermist who specializes in hunting mounts? Maybe you see your strange neighbour who has an unhealthy obsession with all things dead, or maybe you picture your classic wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities or museum diorama. Whatever it is your picture, the art of taxidermy has more in common with scientific illustration than many would initially think. Both practices developed as a scientific tool, a means to preserve and study specimens, while also providing a visual for those unable to see an animal in its natural habitat, and both practices have since gained recognition as established art forms.
In order to create a convincing taxidermy mount, the anatomy of the specimen, as well as its behaviour and mannerisms in life, must be closely observed and replicated to the best of the taxidermist’s ability. The process often involves detailed sketching and measurement of the skinned out carcass, which is completely replaced with synthetic materials to avoid rot and deterioration of the mount, and the final pose of the mount has to be thought out before sewing it up, meaning observational sketches of live animals when possible. It’s no surprise then that having scientific illustration skills under one’s belt serves as a massive advantage in creating wonderful pieces of taxidermy. Having worked within a natural history museum creating taxidermy mounts for display and learning from industry professionals, I hope to demonstrate the process of taxidermy and the way I use my background in scientific illustration as a supplement to this unique and exciting art. After all, taxidermy is a form of scientific illustration in its own right, only rather than using a pencil and paper to create art, you use a scalpel and a real-life specimen.
Insects in Art During an Age of Environmental Turmoil
Effective science communication frequently uses art to help explain complex topics to the general public. However, unlike science, art’s purpose is not always to supply answers. The goal of the artist is often to slow down the viewers enough to ask their own questions and reconsider preconceived notions about their surroundings. Being told is less effective than arriving at a conclusion through one’s own experiences. Here we examine how the most biodiverse multicellular organisms on the planet are being used by contemporary artists in the modern era to provide those experiences in relation to environmental destruction. The artists featured in this presentation have moved past the obvious use of charismatic megafauna and the sublime splendour of immense landscapes. Insects serve unique roles within environmental art, and artists draw on their ubiquitous yet mysterious nature. Insects are viewed as compellingly paradoxical; some can serve as useful bioindicators, and others exhibit the perils of invasiveness. Insects are also unique in that, although small, they can be disarmingly gigantic in aggregate, or evoke extreme reactions if artistically rendered to be individually monstrous. Insects provide a perfect opportunity to surprise the viewer with their intrinsic value and beauty, given that a psychological aversion to insects is so common. By examining environmentally-focused artwork featuring insects, viewers are challenged to consider how the smallest multicellular organisms can be of vital importance to our ecology and to our future survival.
Tuesday, July 2, 2019 2:50pm - 3:50pm
Discovery Through Illustration
Images in science have always been important to convey information. Botanical illustration and more recently photographic images have been used to document traits in the systematic analysis of plants. Botanical illustration has made a continuous valuable contribution to systematic botanical science, exemplified not least by publications such as Curtis Botanical Magazine, published almost continually since 1787. However, since advances in photography has the role of botanical illustration and that of the artist changed?
To evaluate the contemporary contributions of illustration to systematic botanical science I undertook two studies. Firstly, I analyzed the proportion of illustrations and photographs used in six peer review journals. Secondly, I used my skills as a botanical artist to discover new traits, through illustration, using the Haemodoraceae plant family as a case study.
The first analysis revealed that although photographic illustrations have increased since 2000, botanical illustrations have not always diminished. Photography is an effective tool to capture habitat, habit and plant microstructures. Botanical illustration is valuable to document morphological traits. The intrinsic value of botanical illustration is its potential to discover new species through the documentation of new traits, which may subsequently be supported by molecular analysis and phylogenetic trait mapping.
The second analysis explicitly tests if new botanical illustrations in colour of Haemodoraceae add significantly to morphological and anatomical knowledge of the family and explores the evolution of the new characters discovered. The Haemodoraceae are a small family of commelinid monocots distributed in Australia, Papua New Guinea, South Africa and the Americas. Artworks of 53 of the 159 taxa were completed, revealing novel discoveries that support the formation of two new genera, Cubanincula ms and Paradilatris ms, and new species within Haemodorum, Schiekia and Tribonanthes. These illustration studies combined with the most recent molecular phylogeny of the family, reveal through ancestral character state reconstructions novel insights on the evolution of floral colour markings, and placental, stamen and stigmatic anatomy and colour.
Science, Models, History
Scientific illustrators employ whatever means help accomplish their goals. They design models to help visualize and draw their subjects, and they make careful observational drawings in order to create models. This presentation explores both, with a focus on the historic botanical and invertebrate drawings and glass models of Rudolf and Leopold Blaschka.
Digitally Re-colouring the Coffin of Mer-neith-it-es: A 26th Dynasty Egyptian Priestess
A 26th Dynasty Egyptian cedar wood coffin with badly faded hieroglyphs made the news during 2018 when the remains of a previously unknown mummy were uncovered inside.
Shortly after the discovery, Dr. James Fraser, Senior Curator of the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney, invited the authors to join a cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional team of researchers to reveal more about the occupant, the priestess Mer-Neith-it-es. The presenters were tasked with digitally re-colouring the once elaborate and vibrant decorative elements of the faded sarcophagus. By collaborating with archaeologists, Egyptologists and using high-resolution photogrammetry scans, multiple software packages and scientific data gained through pigment analysis obtained through specialists from Sydney Analytical, we have been able to start the process of re-colouring the coffin and bringing this ancient artifact back to life once again.
This novel practice-based research project is pushing the boundaries of scientific illustration as we seek to replicate the hand-drawn aesthetic of the ancient Egyptian artists by employing the latest digital techniques.
Tuesday, July 2, 2019 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Dr. Jennifer Landin
Experimenting with Visual Tweaks
Small shifts in design produce large impacts on viewer interpretation. Visuals used in teaching often copied from text to text, are rarely tested for user understanding ...until now. Dr. Landin’s lab at NCSU has started testing small variations in infographics, measuring the shifts that occur in student understanding. Life cycles, cell anatomy, evolutionary trees, and nutrient cycles communicate different information when alterations are made to a shape, direction, number of elements, labels, or placement. This presentation will change the way you plan your work.
Hyun Ho Hwang
Strategies for working with research scientists in the university
The role of the scientific illustrator at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is to support faculty members' research publication by providing illustrations and animations. KAUST research is mainly published in scientific journals and the kind of projects include manuscript images, table of contents illustrations and journal cover art.
Depending on a journal’s style and the deadline of the submission, we have to deal with the researcher's expectation to determine the style of illustration and the range of detail at the first meeting. Occasionally, the first meeting requires clarifying what we need to present through the illustration.
Roughly, the working process is composed of the first meeting, production of images from draft to the final version with two times of edition, and delivery of the final high-resolution image for printing and copyright transfer.
One of the main reasons why we accept editions two times is to meet the clients' expectations. However, we adopt a slightly different working process for each project. For example, in the case of cover artwork, we review the client's feedback only for scientific correction and exclude the artistic side of feedback to focus on increasing the visual quality and impact of the cover image.
This presentation will present a review of previous projects to demonstrate the kinds of projects we have done and how we completed each project. It will be useful for understanding the role of the scientific illustrator in the university.
Declutter Your Photoshop File to Maximize Layer Capabilities for Flexible Scientific Illustrations
When I first started working as a professional medical illustrator, I thought I was ready. I knew how to use Photoshop: how to select brushes, how to choose colours, and how to make layers. First “real work” was to produce a series of illustrations. Little did I know how inefficient I was! I got lost between a million layers, overwhelmed by brush and mode choices, and forgot how to paint (value, balance, texture etc) once I was in the digital space. Fortunately, even after all the stumbling, I managed to turn in the files on time. It took me about five times longer than what the art director estimated as my workload.
Fast forward a few years: I worked in 3D animation and worked with digital artists who understood light and colour in digital space. I started to learn more about how to set up a Photoshop file to maximize its abilities to combine with my painting abilities and artistic sensibilities.
In this presentation, I’ll explain how I set up the Photoshop illustration file for fastest turnaround and maximum flexibility. I will go through the different modes of the layers (normal, multiply, overlay, etc) to explain how and why the layer modes affect the image. Unique approaches to creating scientifically accurate images and infographics will also be discussed. I’m happy to report that now I am happily meeting and beating deadlines when it comes to Photoshop illustration projects.
Many tutorials and classes are available on Photoshop, but not too many covers specific tools used by scientific illustrators to create illustrations for their production needs. This presentation is specifically aimed at scientific illustrators, from advanced beginners to intermediate users.
Wednesday, July 3, 2019 1:15pm - 2:15pm
Connect with Nature Through Art and Science
Art, creativity and science play a critical role in ecological sustainability and environmental stewardship in our increasingly interconnected world. Julia will explore the role of public policy with art and culture, and the importance of science for environmental awareness. She will explain why she established NatureArt Lab – a natural history art school in Canberra - and how it contributes to health and educational benefits for hundreds of people. Find out more about NatureArt Lab’s art and science environmental engagement programs.
Wednesday, July 3, 2019 2:20pm - 3:20pm
Beckler's Botanical Bounty: The Flora of Menindee
I will introduce a group project which has run for 10 consecutive years. A group of 25 self-funded amateur artists visit Menindee, an inland town in arid Australia, to recollect and illustrate plants from an important historical collection from 1860. I will describe how the Burke and Wills Expedition inspired our project which encompasses four different aspects; Art, Science, History and Country. In Country - I will offer a brief background of the arid environment we are seeking to collect plant species in. On History – I will introduce Dr. Hermann Beckler who, in 1860, collected 120 taxa which make up our plant list and is the backbone of this project. In Science - I will explain the process of collecting and recording herbarium quality plant pressings in the field, our relationship with the National Herbarium of Victoria, along with the planning and processes developed prior to our first pilot trip. On Art – I will show a selection of artists and artworks and how we work in a studio setting in the local town hall in Menindee. I will touch on aspects of how we work as a group, why we decided to stay self-funded and what happens with our art collection now. We believe in continuing the early Australian tradition of Citizen Scientist. Finally, I will show our artworks and display in Exhibition and share ideas for the end of the project and our final visit in 2019.
Ludwig Leichhardt is synonymous with Australian exploration, yet his achievements extend well beyond the success of his expeditions. Born in Germany in 1813, Leichhardt arrived in Australia on the 14 February 1842, with the specific intent of studying the natural history of the continent. He is best remembered for his successful overland journey which opened vast tracks of agricultural land for development. Beyond exploration, Leichhardt was a passionate observer of Australian natural history, who left a significant legacy of collected and written material, especially in the field of botany. These important contributions have been largely overshadowed by Leichhardt’s mysterious disappearance in 1848. The recent translations of his diaries recorded between 1842 and 1844 have exposed a lesser known period of Leichhardt’s life and helped to evidence him as a capable and diligent scientist.
Information recorded in Leichhardt’s translated journals allowed me to retrace the explorer/scientist’s journey and observe specimens from the same location. Research of Leichhardt’s specimens in national and international herbaria established a record of plants collected from these locations. This information was combined to establish a database of “what, when and where” specimens were recorded, observed and collected by Leichhardt. From this research, I was able to produce a series of botanical illustrations in much the same way an accompanying artist would have done on one of Leichhardt’s original journeys of exploration over 175 years ago. Executed in the traditional style of a full scientific botanical plate, the works provide a visual record of Leichhardt’s observations and breathe new life into his written accounts.
Painting for the Australian Bird Guide
Peter will talk about the process involved in producing the original artwork for The Australian Bird Guide: three artists painting over 4,700 images. Why did this seem like such a good idea, how were the images painted, what challenges had to be overcome, and why did it all take so long? In the course of his talk, he’ll touch on the way the changing expectations of birders have driven changes in the nature and scope of field guides.
Wednesday, July 3, 2019 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Dr. Levent Efe
Still's Still Alive
Still, images are currently competing against the increasing market share of moving images. Some argue that medical and scientific animations increase interest and motivation, and are thought to have a higher impact compared to stills.
We will compare the narrative impact of both forms of visualization against each other, as well as their earlier incarnations.
Powerful story-telling has several common ingredients for both moving and still images, and new generations of medical and biological artists should be taught about the underlying characteristics of quality visual narratives. We may not yet know what technological advances will bring us within our lifetimes, but some fundamentals of visual art will never change and will determine how these works will be appreciated.
Sketching Animals: How To Get a 3D Animal Onto 2D Paper
Sketching live animals is a challenge; they rarely pose for your convenience, they’re almost always moving, and often disappear while you are in mid-sketch! Heavy fur or an odd pose can obscure details (that leg just doesn’t look right!). Or, you finish your sketch, it’s all generally correct, but it just doesn’t look…real—like it could walk right off of your page. Of course, practice makes perfect, but this presentation will present ideas on how to get you started, quickly capturing the essence of an animal and creating not just an outline but a convincing life sketch. The presentation will include a PowerPoint program, discussion, and simple exercises to get you ready to sketch.