Brachial Plexus Anterior View

brachi plexus ink banner

Media: Pen & Ink, Adobe Photoshop CC, Adobe Illustrator CC

Skills: Anatomical Research, Sketching, Layout Design

Scroll down for process images

1. The Project

Although there are many diagrammatical illustrations available of the brachial plexus (a complex network of nerves that innervates the arm and hand), it is rare to find a visualization that shows it both in diagram form and in relative position within the body. The project was to create an illustration that introduces the basic anatomy of the brachial plexus while being aimed towards a medical student audience. 

2. Anatomical Research

To understand where the brachial plexus sits within an actual body and not in an ideal diagram, I carefully dissected the shoulder and upper arm region of a cadaver within the anatomy lab in the School of Medicine. Observational sketches were then created before consulting anatomy atlases and anatomical textbooks for further accuracy. 

3. Sketching process

I sketched several different layouts and feedback was received from both faculty and classmates. The sketch on the bottom left was chosen as it best guides the viewer through this area of anatomy. The main image introduces the brachial plexus within the body as it would look relative to the surrounding anatomy in real life, to provide a sense of context. Once the location has been set, the viewer can then look at the diagram in the upper right as an overview of just the nerves. 

4. Final design

The final illustration was made using a traditional pen and ink medium in order to have a minimalistic look in this complex area of anatomy. Adobe Illustrator CC was used to create the final layout and labels.


5. Reflection

While I found the traditional pen and ink medium difficult to control and learn, it offered much more expressive and nuanced results in the illustration when compared to using modern pens. In the future, to teach the viewer about the different segments of the brachial plexus, color could be added to the nerves to differentiate the roots, trunks, divisions, cords and branches of the brachial plexus. This would easily allow an extra dimension of information to be included without making the image much more complex than shown here.