What is Scientific Illustration?

Remember waiting in the doctor’s office and staring at that anatomy poster on the wall? How about that exoplanet illustration that caught your eye on Twitter? Or what about that infographic in the museum brochure that helped you to understand an exhibit? Have you ever wondered who drew those images? A scientific illustrator did!

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Scientific illustrators are visual translators for science. They take new research, scientific concepts, and objects from our everyday natural environment, and transform it into an appealing image. Scientific illustrations can depict everything from the atoms in your body, to the stars that formed those atoms. 

When an object, concept, or process is too small, too large, too far away, or too rare to be photographed, it is up to a scientific illustrator to create a visual. Because new discoveries and innovations are constant in today's world of advanced research capabilities, this means that scientific illustrations are always in demand and need updated over time as our knowledge of the world changes. 

Scientific illustrators come in a variety of flavors- here are just a few:

  • Biomedical (Human and Veterinarian)
  • Astronomical
  • Botanical
  • Biological
  • Paleontological

Science has numerous divisions of study, so naturally, scientific illustration does too! If you keep a keen eye open, you’ll begin to notice scientific illustrations everywhere!