Illustration has been utilized in medical texts for centuries, especially throughout the Renaissance, when the world of medicine, art, and science was open for discovery. The invention of photography drastically enhanced the ability to convey medical concepts to both doctors and laypeople, and for years, photography was regarded as the gold standard for conveying medical information. While photography is still an invaluable tool in the medical field, more and more people are discovering the importance of quality medical illustration for a wide range of applications.
There is no argument that photography is easily the most realistic representation of a physical object, assuming the right environment. But even if all the conditions are met in which photography is possible, it may still be cost-prohibitive. Studio space, proper lighting, props, stylists, a photographer, a model or two, and retouching are required for photography. That's a number of people to communicate with, which can lead to multiple opportunities for failure. All of those same people will also need to be paid and the materials involved also cost money. Far worse, you may have to come up with all of those resources again if the photograph doesn't turn out the way you expected, or if you have to make changes later.
A well-rendered drawing enables you to express precisely the concept you want to, in a way that your audience can understand. Finding the proper subject and set of circumstances in which to take a photograph can be hard, if not impossible. Only an artist and his or her tools are required for illustration. Not only that, most graphics are created digitally, in layers that enable the artist to easily modify or remove any parts that don't fit your needs.
Medical illustration is better in other ways also. If you are a salesperson, it might be difficult or impossible to get a sample of a medical device or tool that's still in the development stages, even though you need it because you are trying to create compelling photographs so you can sell it. Not only that, the constant evolution which is part of the product lifecycle can often mean many changes to the shape, color, and texture of the product, making the photograph irrelevant in no time at all. An illustrator can adjust and change the image as the product adapts and changes, which means you can always have the latest and relevant examples to present to your client.
Because illustration is not bound by reality, there are more advantages. First of all, when compared with a photograph, it can show greater detail. Cutaway views that show a number of layers of a tool or organism is very difficult with photography. The audience can see an object from multiple perspectives utilizing overlays and transparencies. By distilling ideas down to the fundamental and important details, illustration can convey complex ideas in a manner that your audience can understand. It also allows diagrams to be completely integrated with the image you are portraying which a further advantage.
Every project is different, and the requirements can change depending on your audience, the concept or product you are trying to communicate about, and the immediacy of the subject. Enhancing your advertising copy, patient education materials, or business presentation with high-quality medical illustration is simply one of the best ways to educate and prepare your audience.
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