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|Carabid Beetle - Agra levinsorum Erwin|
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution - 2001
Medium: Adobe Photoshop, version 6.0.
Size of the original is approximately 8.5x11 inches at 300ppi.
One of a continuing series of scientific illustrations, created in Photoshop to support the research of Dr. Terry L. Erwin of the Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.
Note: This is also a photo-illustration. It is the compilation of a number of photographs taken through with a special microscope system called "Photo Montage" that takes a series of images at different depths of field. One of the problems with microscopy, and the reason many microscopic specimens could not be photographed in the past is that under high magnification, you cannot keep everything in focus with one setting. You must constantly adjust the microscope to focus on the area of interest. This special microscope takes several images from the lowest part of the specimen to the highest, and then using an image analysis algorithm, separates out only those areas in the image that are in focus, and compiles them into one image. While this is an amazing evolution in Photomicrography, no one has found a way for it to reconstruct missing or damaged parts. That is where the illustrator comes in. This specimen was missing one of the feet on a mid-leg, and part on an antennae. I let you guess which and where. I was able to clone the missing parts from another part of the specimen and put them into place to make the specimen whole. Additionally I removed the pin and labels from the specimen and created an artificial shadow to give it depth. Actually all of the shadows on the preceding specimens are constructed as well, because when you look at a specimen under a microscope you often have multiple light sources which create conflicting shadows. The convention in scientific illustration is to always have the light source coming from the upper left hand side. This consistency helps the viewer when looking at a number of illustrations in a publication and making comparisons for identification.
This is the last illustration I did for the Smithsonian and Dr. Terry Erwin before I retired after 30 years service in their employ and created PXL PWR Multimedia Studio. This particular photo-illustration took approximately 3 hours from the time I was given the image. Does this mean that photography once again threatens the illustrator? Not in my opinion any more than it did years ago when photography was first introduced and generated these same fears. I believe computer technology along with photography will make the illustrator more versatile, and productive. Allowing more time for those tasks where this technology is not appropriate and does not address the need. It also puts the illustrator who knows how to make the most of the process more valuable to their employer. So just like the writer who must "Publish or Perish", the illustrator must "Adapt or Die". How many illustrators do you see working on drawing boards anymore?
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