Illustrating the future

Like the fields of science and medicine themselves, scientific illustration is ever-changing and evolving with the latest discoveries and technology—and UGA’s programs are keeping up.

Earlier this year, the Russell Special Collections Libraries hosted an exhibit on invasive insects in Georgia, featuring 3D models of the species created by Pederson and scientific illustration students. They used ZBrush, a digital sculpting program, to form each model, transforming a virtual ball of clay into a 3D figure. They then 3D-printed each one at a large scale and used traditional art techniques to transform the giant pieces of plastic into realistic insect models. 

In medical illustration, the 3D modeling ZBrush offers is quickly becoming a standard approach. Through the graduate certificate program, students like Christian and Pederson have gained valuable experience with this cutting-edge technology. Among many 3D projects, Christian has modeled the inside of a horse’s hoof, and Pederson has visualized the veins of a dog’s brain. 

It’s through projects like these that the graduate assistants hone their skills in visual storytelling and take their already well-developed talents to the next level. Certificate alumni enjoy success across the country, putting their training to work for hospitals, universities, biotech companies, journals and more. For many of them, a B.F.A. in scientific illustration from UGA was the first step in their educational journey, giving them the tools to stand out in their master’s programs and earn their way back to Athens for the certificate.  

With both postgraduate and undergraduate programs in the field, UGA is on the forefront of innovation in scientific and medical illustration. Its students have learned to take both a scientific approach to art and an artistic approach to science, creating images that are accurate and tell a compelling story. They go on to provide all kinds of people—from young children to highly specialized physicians and researchers—with an accessible window into scientific subjects or processes. 

Through their work, scientific and medical illustrators make science understandable for all.