Carabid Beetle - Agra ocrearuginosa Erwin & Lang
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution - 2000
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 a photo-illustration. It is the compilation of a number of photographs taken through a microscope that have been edited and cleaned up in Photoshop, and carefully arranged to show an entire specimen from the dorsal view. If you have ever seen an insect collection, you know that most insects tend to shrivel or curl up when they die. It is nearly impossible to take a picture of a specimen in the ideal position or condition for use in a scientific publication. Unlike the previous illustrations which did not use photography, this illustration has some advantages that they did not have. It is an actual specimen, and not an illustrators concept of what they think they see in the microscope. An inexperienced illustrator cannot determine if what they see is normal or abnormal, and must spend considerable time with the scientist to make sure that they have created an accurate drawing. A photo illustration eliminates some of the possibility of error, but it still requires a level of experience in order to feel confident that you have interpreted the specimen correctly.

The purpose of scientific illustration is not to create "Art", it is to document science, which could involve a process, a concept, an object, or all three. Unlike the conventional illustrator, the Scientific Illustrator must strive for accuracy at all times, because when scientific illustration is published, it goes into the scientific literature forever, to be used as a reference. If it is not accurate, then it is useless, and can cause any number of problems for researchers.

This photo-illustration took approximately 12 hours. A considerable time difference between the first illustration I produced for this series (60 hours) and this one. When a scientists livelihood falls under the "Publish or Perish" conundrum, being able to populate a manuscript with many illustrations in a short time is a lifesaver.