Scientific Illustration Benefits in Today`s Digital World

Scientific Illustration Benefits in Today`s Digital World: There are many who question whether scientific illustration is still relevant given that we now have digital photography. Since the average smartphone has a powerful camera capable of taking fantastic photos those opposed to scientific illustrations argue that hiring an illustrator seems pointless. In fact, in the United Kingdom the Royal College of Art seemed to agree with this argument, shutting down their MA course in Natural History Illustration. There has been a resurgence of support for scientific illustration however and people are realizing that scientific illustration indeed serves an important role in science.


Scientific Illustration Benefits

1# Scientific Illustrations Are Visual Records

One of the most important reasons scientific illustrations re important is because they are a visual record of a specimen or species. Scientific illustrations help visually represent species that may no longer exist – like dinosaurs for example – and the illustration is the only way to effectively reconstruct that species.

2# Scientific Illustrations Provide Scientists With Iconotypes

Scientists and museums will sometimes use something called an iconotype. An iconotype is type specimen that is represented by a painting or drawing instead of a physical specimen. Iconotypes are used by scientists and museums when a physical type has not been collected or was lost. They are also used to keep track of specimen colors. There are animals – such as fish – whose colors will fade very soon after death. The color of the animal can be further deteriorated if it is preserved in alcohol. Thus, scientific illustrations are used as iconotypes to represent what an animal looked like in life. (Scientific Illustration Benefits)

3# Scientific Illustrations Are Also Used In Botany

Botanists often use scientific illustrations to supplement their cultivated specimens for the same reasons as they are used with animal collections – when botanical specimens are pressed on an herbarium sheet, the colorof the specimen often fades.

4# Scientific illustration Highlights Specimen Anatomy

If a specimen is particularly tiny, scientific illustrations bring out detail. Though you can get a macro shot with a digital camera, the camera cannot display the level of detail an illustration can. With scientific illustrations you can also have cross sections, hairs and other minute details.The representation of the specimen can also be scaled up via a drawing. This is particularly useful when using the scientific illustration in publication.

5# Illustrations Are Aesthetically Pleasing

Illustrations are often more visually pleasing to the eye than a photograph as well as being functional. While photographs and scientific illustrations both have a place in publication, using both of the mediums often makes a publication richer and more aesthetically appealing.

6# Scientific Illustrations Can Be Used To Generate Interest

Scientific illustrations can also be used to advertise a scientific concept to the public. These types of illustrations don’t have to be as precise as illustrations for identification. When using an illustration to generate interest it is more important that the drawing is accessible, visually appealing and intriguing – generating the interest of a large swath of people. Such scientific illustrations can even be used for education – for instance in school books, educational comics or merchandise, etc.

7# Scientific Illustrations – A Useful Art Form

Despite digital photography, scientific illustration is still an important art form for use in science. Scientific illustrations are useful to give specimen detail, inform us about animal and plant colors and for studying lost species