[Taxacom] Scientific illustration

Alan Harvey aharvey at georgiasouthern.edu
Tue Jul 21 12:11:10 CDT 2009


Recently I've had a couple of folks contact me about using the  
computer to do scientific illustrations (I developed some protocols to  
do this back in the early '90's before easing away from systematics).  
I've had to remind myself how I did this before, and of course the  
software and hardware have changed dramatically since 1992. However,  
the fundamental issues and differences between pen-and-ink and line- 
and-stipple are pretty much unchanged.

This has got me wondering what the current state of the art is for  
scientific illustration. A morning review found a few classic  
scientific illustration handbooks that have been updated to include a  
chapter on computer methods, other more general digital illustration  
handbooks that seem doomed to rapid obsolescence, and at least one  
recent workshop on using Photoshop and Illustrator to generate  
scientific illustrations. A very limited survey of post-2000 species  
descriptions turned up several pen-and-ink drawings but also what  
appeared to be some freehanded computer drawings (as evidenced by  
square-pixel stippling and outlines with jaggies, but these were off  
PDF files, so hard to say for sure).

So my question is: these days, how are systematists generating  
illustrations for publications? Traditional pen-and-ink or computer  
line-and-stipple (or perhaps some edgier approaches, e.g., digital  
wash effects?...)? And who is doing the illustration, the author or a  
hired illustrator?


Alan Harvey
Associate Professor of Biology
Georgia Southern University
Statesboro, GA 30460
(912) 478-5784
fax (912) 478-0845

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