Media: Carbon Dust, Graphite, Adobe Photoshop CC, Adobe Illustrator CC
Skills: Scientific Research, Layout Design, Sketching
Scroll down for process images
To teach a lay audience interested in entomology about the lubber grasshoppers specific defensive behavior that is rarely depicted in illustrative media. The piece was selected as a finalist in the 2014 National Science Foundation Visualization Challenge.
Online sources as well as the Johns Hopkins Eisenhower library, were used to research primary scientific literature relating to the lubber grasshoppers defensive mechanism. Lubber grasshoppers were studied under a stereoscopic microscope to understand the surface anatomy. After dissecting several specimens, notes on relationships of anatomical landmarks were collected to ensure accuracy.
I produced several pages of layout sketches to explore design possibilities. A final design was chosen based on critique from faculty and classmates. The chosen layout sketch had the following benefits:
• Largest amount of atmospheric depth, allowing room for more information to be included through use of perspective drawing
• Inclusion of a predator, showing the cause of the specimens reaction
• More clearly defined secondary and tertiary focal points guiding the viewer through the story
Using previous research, a lubber grasshopper specimen was posed in the correct defensive stance as observational reference for the final illustration. I created the final illustration using a combination of traditional and digital media. The large grasshopper specimen and environment were drawn using carbon pencil and carbon dust. The background grasshopper and insets were illustrated using Photoshop. Illustrator was used to create the final layout.
Combining both traditional and digital media to create a cohesive piece was beneficial in that it encouraged experimentation and highlighted the different strengths of each medium. One issue I found was that not all viewers recognized the predator at the bottom of the image. This mistake seemed to have persisted up to the final version in part because the critiques were being received from the same set of viewers each time. Perhaps in future illustration projects it would be beneficial to show layouts to a wider group of viewers to see if all elements are clearly seen and change the layout accordingly, earlier on in the process.