Upper Brain/Hippocampus

I think my favorite piece of anatomy ever is the pes hippocampus. I remember seeing them in neuroanatomy dissection after carefully cutting through the temporal lobe and seeing these cute little toes.

I was getting rusty on my Maya modeling, so for now am skipping ZBrush to build at least the basics in here. Not all of the anatomy is there yet/size relationships are off for the time being, but here at least is the beginning of the mesencephalon and the hippocampus. I want to get the entire limbic system constructed; it’d be a good modeling/sculpting challenge! And potentially useful for future projects.

Pes hippocampi!

Sizing still needs to be adjusted….

Looks like an alien, right?

Art a Day

I’ve been a little slow on the blog updates lately; I’m doing some web coding work that, frankly, isn’t too fitting to post here. However, because I want to stay motivated to draw and sketch in the meantime, some coworkers and friends have joined me a in daily draw activity that we’ve begun to post on a tumblr blog (sorry, WordPress).

A lot of it has been more conceptual, but I’ve managed to squeeze in some scientific content into the word prompt regardless, which has been fun. I’ve found that having a random daily prompt has helped to keep the creative juices flowing and inspire me on current and potential projects in my personal business!

Some scientific-themed illustrations that have popped out of this…



This is an old piece from my internship that I realized I never posted on…so here it is! This I think got lost in the shuffle of graduation and vacation, but here it is now. I think this might have been my favorite piece to work on during my internship, and it was fun to have my mom model for me (and she actually does have rosacea).


To learn more about the condition itself, visit the Rosacea Patient Page that this piece was created for!

Surgical treatment for CHF

One of the projects I completed last month was a small illustration series demonstrating a surgical treatment method for congestive heart failure (CHF). CHF is a condition where the heart is essentially unable to effectively pump blood to all parts of the body anymore. If your heart can’t push happy, oxygen-rich blood to limbs, organs, etc, there can be a buildup of fluid in those areas. Obviously, this is not ideal. This condition is typically long-onset; it doesn’t often just happen overnight. It can come about from disease, high blood pressure, or alcohol abuse, among other things. Treatment is pretty varied; it can be managed through simple lifestyle adjustments, medication, all the way up to surgery with a ventricular assist device (a mechanical pump that is inserted to help pump blood through the body).

I created three illustrations for this – the first shows the full setup; the arterial interface device (AID) connects in at the subclavian artery, which connects down to the balloon pump that sits in the aorta. The balloon is inflated/deflated to increase/decrease arterial pressure by the outer driver, which the patient can carry like a satchel. The driver can be connected by the patient at the skin interface device, which connects the entire pumping system. This device is also where electrodes are connected, so that heart rate etc can be monitored. The surgical illustrations show the initial steps of the surgery, where the graft housing the AID is sutured into place (top) and the final placement of the AID in the graft (bottom).

The turnaround on this project was incredibly fast (a little less than one week), so I didn’t get to develop the illustrations as much as I may have liked to given unlimited time (ha), but I think they still came out nice and clean, and more importantly, show what needs to be shown. For the system illustration, I decided to let the sketch mostly carry the image of the figure with minimal color, since the focus was on the system anyway. I kept the sketch in the illustrations, and layered color over that (just about the same style I worked in when I interned at the American Medical Assocation). Overall, a great quick project that made for a really nice break from animating!

AMI “Illuminate”

I just got back from this year’s AMI Conference in Toronto, and it was pretty exciting. I didn’t got to any of the workshops, but I think seeing the speakers alone was pretty awesome. Some highlights of the conference:

E.O. Wilson and Gael McGill presenting their comprehensive new iBook textbook for high school students. After their talk I had the chance to talk to E.O. Wilson AND get my picture with him. Completely starstruck in the presence of essentially the father of modern ecology. 

Bryan Christie discussing his process and showing some of his work – he did the amazing hand series that was in National Geographic a few months back.

James Gurney, illustrator/author of Dinotopia discussing how he approaches drawing what can’t be seen

– Learning about new programs that can populate a cell matrix, create dynamics for molecular binding, and to make DNA origami!

It was an inspiring and intimidating conference; I’m excited to try out some of the tips and new software I’ve learned about these past few days. 

Body plans and stem cells

Been a while since I updated… I’ve been working on two very different animations since I got my shiny new degree – one is on Body Plan evolution, and the other on stem cell migration. The body plan project was in conjunction with fellow BVIS grad Suman Kasturia – we split it so I did the research/storyboarding and she did the Flash animation. It will accompany a book publication eventually, but I’m excited to say the project is complete(!) I won’t share the animation here, but here’s some of the images used to create it:

The other project I’ve been working on is a 3D animation for stem cell migration. We’re going through major editing of it right now – there is a flat, relatively static animation, and now I’m reworking it so it’s much more dynamic and visually interesting. Below is just a screen shot of the reworked, inside the blood vessel before the cells pop out. It’s on the dark side, I’ve turned off final gather to speed up rendering and need to adjust my lights to account for that.


Another Patient Page from the Journal of the American Medical Association on…Urinary Tract Infections! features an illustration I completed during the internship with the medical illustration department there. Check it out here (Patient Pages are free to the public – no subscription needed!)

Demo Reel

Final presentations for the program were yesterday, and although it made for a long day, it was very exciting to see all the amazing work from everyone! One of the things I was tweaking right up until the last minute was my demo reel, which I can proudly say is now done.

And graduation is today (hooray!) – so I’ll be able to call myself a Master of Science. Which just sounds awesome.

Research is done!

It’s been a busy last few weeks – I presented/defended my research project for my Master’s to my committee last week, and graduation and wrap-up festivities are closing in this week. This semester really flew by; I think I’m still convinced it’s March. Come to think of it, I can’t believe it’s all over – the entire last 2 years have really flown. It’s hard to believe that I’m done with school for forever…unless of course I decide I need that PhD or VMD I’ve been thinking about…but right now, I’m ready to be done and start working.

On that note, time to share some stills from my fancy finished research project! I got some great feedback from my committee, which I’ll work on over the summer, but for now I’m saying it’s done. Stay tuned for the dates that it will be shown at the Field Museum – potentially in a few weeks!

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And, watch the finished animation!

The effects of stonefish venom on the cardiovascular system from Laura Schwartz on Vimeo.