Stock versus custom scientific illustration: what you need to know before you choose

January 3, 2019
If you are a project manager in pharma, medical affairs or medical education, you could be facing the challenge of choosing between hiring an illustrator for custom images and opting for quick stock images to bring your project to life. But how do you deal with that challenge; how do you know what’s best for your project? Pharma and medical education teams are continually evolving, undergoing constant reorganization. Often project managers only have enough time to provide a sufficiently complete briefing for an illustration they need. It is also increasingly evident with their different education and backgrounds and there are big differences in people’s expectations when it comes to what a scientific illustration studio can do. This also means they can potentially judge custom and stock images as being very similar. How similar are they? Here we unpack the pros and cons of using stock and custom scientific illustrations for your project. To deal with time-consuming tasks of selecting artwork for a new project, a client usually has two main options for gathering the artwork needed: find illustrations online via stock sites or look for a studio that can produce custom scientific illustrations. There are essential differences between these two options and some important aspects you should consider before choosing. Sourcing images through stock sites This can seem like the perfect solution – after all, there are some excellent stock illustrations available. But the illusions of efficiency and quality soon fade when you consider the risks: Time. Despite the first impression that you’ll save on the budget, you will soon realize the amount of time you spend doing the actual search will counter this: one platform does not offer all images. If you are not used to dealing with images often, you may feel overwhelmed by the number of options and could lose focus quickly as a result. Style. When the project rotates around a specific medical condition or is directed to a particular audience, several works may be needed, and these will not be available from the same stock. Collecting drawings from different sources will pose a style problem, affecting the outcome and ultimately becoming a burden for the success of the project. Expert value. Stock illustrations do not have to the knowledgeable professional behind the illustration; this means you miss out on expert guidance on making the right choices considering your branding and storyboard and choosing the right visual complexity of subjects. This could make a crucial difference to your project. Uniqueness. Think about the specificity of the imagery on stock sites: it’s not very specific. Images are generic and as such are usually unable to communicate your unique message. You might need to adjust the image to suit your needs but will face the time-consuming task of having to change the one-layer stock illustration to suit your purpose. Extra costs. Getting stock images means that you are still left to pay for related services, such as layout. Plus, If you still need to tweak a detail or

How to choose the right scientific communication studio for your healthcare brand

November 19, 2018
With so many scientific communication studios online, and their portfolios open for you to browse, it might seem as if shopping for a studio to work with is no big deal. But in reality, that’s not the case. With such a broad choice of studios available online, there are some crucial considerations to be made in order to find the studio that’s right for you. Many key factors play a role in forming a valuable relationship between a pharmaceutical company and its scientific communication studio. If you’re the person at a medical company who is responsible for sourcing illustrations, information design and 3D, the largest part of the search process that leads you to understand the best options and choosing the appropriate agency falls uniquely on your shoulders. To help you structure your selection process, here is a list of aspects that need to be considered: 1. What role does scientific communication play in your business objectives? Before beginning the search, you will need to think critically about what role communication and visualization play in your company’s business objectives. Do you need to communicate to patients, medical professionals, or both? What messages do you want to transmit to each target group? Keep in mind that every studio has their own individual offering and strengths. Narrowing down your needs and communication objectives will help you find the one that is right for you. 2. Can you cover your needs in-house? Some successful companies rely solely on in-house talent to promote their brand. That is the case of larger companies with an interdisciplinary marketing team. Others, however, rely on external partners to support specific aspects of their communication strategy. For instance, a company might be able to develop compelling marketing content but lack the skills or knowledge to create accurate medical illustrations. If you represent one such company, it is crucial for you to assess the time you are willing to dedicate to this partnership, the budget you’re ready to invest,  the skills your team already possesses and the skills your team lacks. 3. Write a request for proposal (RFP) Once you’ve addressed the two above-mentioned questions, it’s time to put your story on paper. A request for proposal (RFP) is the most common way companies share a little bit about themselves and their communication objectives, as well as setting out contractual stipulations that make the request unique. I standard request for proposal includes the following parts: … Try to be realistic in expressing your vision. The possible scope and direction of your communication stem from a clear understanding of your business model and your customers’ demographics. No one knows more about your business and your customers than you do, and it’s critical that you pass that knowledge on to any potential partner through your RFP. 4. Search thoroughly and make a shortlist There are dozens of criteria with which you can narrow the field, but perhaps the most fundamental revolve around whether a small or large studio fits the needs of

Surgical illustrations depict the da Vinci robotic arms as they operate inside the female human body

May 17, 2018
Our most recent project, a series of medical illustrations, depict the da Vinci robotic arms as they operate inside the female human body to surgically dissect the inter-vesicovaginal space without opening the bladder dome. This preparation is necessary for the insertion of a female Artificial Urinary Sphincter – a procedure that is now entirely possible with the da Vinci robot, minimizing post-operative recovery. New Standard of Excellence When we first started this surgical illustration project with a medical device company, we took the opportunity to get to know more about this fantastic robot device and the people behind it. We discovered that behind the robotic surgery technology is a woman who has played a significant role in the development of the da Vinci robot as we know it today: New Zealand-born Catherine Mohr.  It’s worth sharing her background; we always like to see women in tech at this level. The da Vinci surgical robot is an amazing medical, surgical device that has set a new standard of excellence for the medical community since its inception, and is a work of art and tech (always in progress) that will change the operating room forever.” #davincisurgery #sciencecomm #scicomm #sciart #womenintech #womeninscience #vizscicomm #medicalillustration #medart #visualmedics #sciencecommunication #scienceinfographics #marketing #biotech #graphicalabstract #medicalillustrator #scienceillustrator #medicaldiagram

How patients better recall medical information

May 17, 2018
We would like to share this excellent article on patient information recall we have come across, from Roy P C Kessels. The article points out at the difference of using videos with patients as opposed to static visuals or pictograms (or infographics) and provides some good reference for the ones involved in patient communication, still in doubt about which media should be chosen when assembling patient information. Interesting conclusions are drawn. Below an excerpt: “Memory for medical information is often poor and inaccurate, especially when the patient is old or anxious. [ ..] spoken information should be supported with written or visual material. Visual communication aids are especially effective in low-literacy patients, but video or multimedia techniques do not improve memory performance or adherence to therapy.” See the full article here References presented in this article are worth a quick read as well. Houts PS, Bachrach R, Witmer JT, et al. Using pictographs to enhance recall of spoken medical instructions. Patient Educ Couns 1998;35: 83-8 [PubMed] Ford S, Fallowfield L, Hall A, Lewis S. The influence of audiotapes on patient participation in the cancer consultation. Eur J Cancer1995;31A: 2264-9 [PubMed] Delp C, Jones J. Communicating information to patients: the use of cartoon illustrations to improve comprehension of instructions. Acad Emerg Med 1996;3: 264-70 [PubMed] Bakker DA, Blais D, Reed E, Vaillancourt C, Gervais S, Beaulieu P. Descriptive study to compare patient recall of information: nurse taught versus video supplement. Can Oncol Nurs J 1999;9: 115-20 [PubMed]

3 reasons why Pinterest is valuable to medical illustrators

October 2, 2017
How Pinterest can become a visualisation Studio’s valuable tool for brainstorming, research, and mood boarding. Pinterest, brainstorming, and medical illustration I recently changed a little my inspiration and workflow habits, and joined the long list of artists and illustrators using Pinterest. I cannot turn back for many reasons.  As many, I faced difficulties when collecting references online. Bookmarks alone simply did not work. When I discovered Pinterest I discovered I had much more pleasure during this painstaking task of collecting references. So here are my reasons: 01. It’s an inspiring search process To start with, Pinterest is to me a better alternative to Google image search and to stock images sellers. When searching for either medical illustration, anatomical reference, art, infographics or inspiration, Pinterest has a higher chance of showing results that are relevant to me. While Google search results are based on file names, page ranking and relevancies related to pages reputation, Pinterest shows me users “pinned” results. In other words, the results have already been filtered by users that expressed their liking for certain images. 02. A sketchbook online. Pinterest has become a clipping file I can reach anywhere, I can also use the description box for taking notes and add information. We, medical illustrators, are very visual, so making tutorials boards seems a great way to find back images online.  Another option which I haven’t checked but interested to do soon is to collect pictures and sketches and upload them on the same “sketchbook”. 03. Compiling mood- or reference boards I am often baffled to see how Pinterest makes illustration and infographic mood boarding easy. When sending a mood board to a client, they feel engaged to contribute adding more images to the mood collection. The mood board is always online as a subject reference, it can aid future projects or be shared, or to be turned secret for private reference. Last but not least, I can share all my boards and connect with fellow artists. I do like to share a few of these mood boards to give my contribution to the digital/medical artists. If you have any inputs or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you.

A Science Infographic on How IPF, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, Affects Patients

September 20, 2017
IPF, or Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, is a serious, irreversible lung disease. The lung tissue of IPF patients becomes progressively scarred making it increasingly difficult to breathe. Among the most common risk factors we can find: certain medicines, Cigarette smocking, Viral or bacterial lung infections, genetoc predisposition, occupational and environmental contaminants, acid reflux disease (GERD). Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is a very deceptive disease, over 50% of IPF patients are initially misdiagnosed, with 60% of IPF patients receiving delayed treatment, often after switching more than 2 doctors. About 50% of IPF patients survive between 2 and 5 years after a diagnosis. Among symptoms for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis we can find shortness of breath, A cough that does not go away, feeling very tired, clubbing of fingernails. How is life with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis? It is difficult to breathe for a patient with IPF than a normal person, to start with. A healthy adult has 15 breaths for each minute at rest, whereas an IPF adult patient breathes 25 for each minute, at rest.  In 6 minutes a healthy adult can walk 200m further than an adult with IPF, and  ultimately takes 70% more effort to people with IPF to do the same activity. For more information on IPF please see the following links:

A Science Infographic on How patients better recall medical information

October 18, 2016
I would like to share this excellent article on patient information recall I have come across, from Roy P C Kessels. The article points out at the difference of using videos with patients as opposed to static visuals or pictograms (or infographics) and provides some good reference for the ones involved in patient communication, still in doubt about which media should be chosen when assembling patient information. Interesting conclusions are drawn. Below an excerpt: “Memory for medical information is often poor and inaccurate, especially when the patient is old or anxious. [ ..] spoken information should be supported with written or visual material. Visual communication aids are especially effective in low-literacy patients, but video or multimedia techniques do not improve memory performance or adherence to therapy.” See the full article here

Learn more about history of medical illustration

June 2, 2016
Precise lines and rich, accurate details make medical illustration extremely useful in learning about the human body. When we turn on the computer to research a subject, we hardly stop to think how the graphic representation of the subject has evolved over time or the path it has taken to get there. Medical illustration has evolved along with medicine itself, but its progress has been impaired at times by religious and ethical concerns. For example, dissection of corpses was not permitted in medieval medical schools.  In Renaissance Italy, renowned artist Leonardo da Vinci also worked in the area of medicine, and by connecting with physicians and anatomists learned how to better represent the human body in his sculptures and paintings. Da Vinci made more than 1200 anatomic drawings that still serve as inspiration for medical illustrators to this day. Around this time, materials such as stone (for lithographs in different gradations) and metal feathers were discovered, which facilitated the execution and modernization of drawings. The press contribution to medical illustration With the advent of books and the press, there was a scientific revolution in anatomy. Corpses were dissected to study the human body structures, inspiring anatomists to write their own texts with illustrations based on their work. Press development in Brazil started in 1808, with metal and wood-engraved works. There are universities in Europe and the USA that offer scientific illustration courses, where it is possible to become specialized in medical illustration. Professionals in the field are highly valued and need to have excellent knowledge of anatomy and physiology, as well as constantly carrying out research to enhance their work. Exist 2 main associations supporting the illustrators in their careers, AMI for US professionals, AEIMS for European professionals.   Medical illustration has also benefit from technological advances. Images are becoming increasingly more realistic, which in turn means they are more accurate for diagnoses and procedures, benefitting both doctors and patients. We rely on extremely qualified medical illustration professionals who studied and graduated either in medical illustration or biomedical communication, and offer services that respond to the most meticulous of demands from physicians. Our service extends to areas such as Europe, US and Latin America. 

Innovation and medical illustration?

February 15, 2015
We provided medical illustration for a leading company in innovation and best practice in the fields of surgery, radiotherapy and digital integrated O.R.s Can innovation and traditional medical illustration work together for a better communication? Surely yes. We have been asked to participate in an informative design project. Brainlab is a software company with applications ranging from patient positioning in radio surgery treatments. They also provide software-guided surgical navigation that facilitates the secure exchange of medical images. The assigned platform for our work to appear is BRAINLAB.ORG, a general health and information resource site for patients. It needed imagery able to aid in demystifying patients’ concerns about specific procedures, and needed to acquire a technical, yet friendly look. Approach: We worked straight forward anatomical image references using vectors, taking into consideration the “technical” and “friendly” factors. The medical illustrations have then been completed with captions and uploaded to the online presence, aiding so the read of technical information. Result: The result is a comprehensive overview of images that complete the online information presented to the lay audience, resulting in simplifying the medical message making it fit to the lay audience. check Brainlab here  

The TMJ eBook is out

April 22, 2014
We had the pleasure to work with FOR and bring to life an exceptional resource for those desiring in-depth knowledge of temporomandibular joint anatomy. An incredible collection of images further enhances the experience of understanding the more intricate anatomic characteristics of the TMJ. The Temporomandibular Joint  joins the existing digital textbook Single Implants and Their Restoration.

How medical infographics assist on health explanations

April 21, 2014
Wow can medical infographics help with health explanations? From prehistoric times to the digital age infographics have helped in comprehending various subjects. Medical infographics contribute greatly to today’s medicine and science. The first maps were created thousands of years before writing. Maps have been found drawn on the walls of Turkish city Çatal Hüyük in 6200BC. Christopher Scheiner used graphics to illustrate his astronomy research about the Sun and in 1786 William Playfair published his first book with statistical graphs about the English economy. Perhaps this is the origin of infographics? Most likely. The first major contribution to infographics in the medical sector was likely from Leonardo da Vinci, who planned work with detailed drawings about comparative anatomy to study the human body and fetuses. Infographics are illustrations that help to explain aspects of a subject or theme that would not adequately be explained by text alone. They are commonly used in newspapers, maps, scientific and educational manuals, making the content more dynamic. They have as well become today’s strategic tools for researchers and science marketers, wishing to share their work through social media. This type of infographics are currently denominated tweetable infographics, or shareable infographics. How medical infographics help in the health sector Thanks to technological development, infographics can be constructed from photographs, drawings, 3D modeling, vector illustration and animation effects. It is important to know how to accurately convey the subject and to organize all the elements in a way that can be clearly understood. Medical infographics have been essential in the field since the first days of university studies, showing details of the human body, illustrating various procedures and explaining cells and pain stages. They can also be used to help future doctors, dentists and nurses become acquainted with any instruments and devices that are used in their profession. Medical infographics help diagnosis and communication between doctors and patients. They are important in illustrating surgery and studying the evolution of diseases. They are also of great value in the development and operation of prosthesis and implants, in both medical and dental fields.

Cloud publishing: the new editorial publishing model and its practicality

March 12, 2014
Learn more about the new model in Cloud publishing, its practicality and editorial usage in medicine. Cloud publishing allows for faster information anywhere and on any device and is quickly becoming popular also for the medical and scientific publishing industry. A cloud publishing environment allows for remote access to programs, files and services on the internet, and it is possible to access these on any device with internet access. Google Docs is an excellent example of cloud publishing, where the service allows users to access, edit and share their files online. The advantages of a cloud publishing editorial publication for the medical field Medicine can greatly benefit from cloud publishing as well. Medical teams can get answers for their patients quickly as the cloud analyses and compiles similar data, which contributes to more accurate diagnosis. In a large hospital setting, the usage of cloud publishing can be very economical limiting expenses on software licenses and communication. Medicine and editorial publishing have benefit from technological advances and cloud publishing. Printed books are being used less and medical students have quickly become accustomed to using online references for research. Today it is possible to keep a medical library and updated reference material on a tablet or smartphone, allowing quick access and helping to solve diagnostic questions faster. Content can be downloaded for future consultations and used offline, which is a very useful feature. Issues are published in real time and users can receive notifications when updates are available. Elsevier’s student and expert consult rely on a very advanced cloud publishing system to make their titles available to students in medicine and professionals. Similarly, Visualmedics uses the same tool to collaborate with international publishers producing a variety of medical-related content, such as illustrations and ebooks, with great knowledge of digital media related to science and medicine. Depicted above is one of the eBook projects made in collaboration with FOR (Foundation of Oral Rehabilitation). 1000 images and illustrations make this book a vital reference for students and professional dentists alike. Watch the presentation video or see the full presentation of the product.