Excellence in illustrations

A picture is worth ten thousand words — but only when the picture is the right one. Having been involved with presentations and teaching and lectures I can vouch for that.

With the ubiquitous PowerPoint slides, it is quality and certainly not quantity that counts. Using the “right” illustration is extremely powerful and – above all – enables the speaker/presenter to stay on topic and get the message across. When I first started giving lectures I tended – as most beginners do – to have far too many slides to illustrate my talks. I used to try and have almost as many slides as I had minutes to speak. I tried- as beginners are wont to do – to try and get everything I wanted to say onto my slides. I forgot to focus on the message(s) I wanted to leave in the listener’s head.

But that temptation to broadcast rather than to communicate soon changed and the number of slides quickly reduced. I think I really learned the lesson on a trip to Japan when my baggage didn’t arrive and I was forced to make about 5 presentations – each about an hour long – with no PowerPoint slides and only 2 overhead projector illustrations available to me. Nowadays I tend to have at most one illustration for about 5 – 8 minutes of lecture/presentation time. That puts much greater pressure on selection of the right illustration. Paradoxically the “right” illustration is nearly always simpler, less cluttered and more focused.

There is also a downside. Images are so powerful that even one “wrong” illustration out of very many can completely destroy a lecture or a presentation.

John Hopkins celebrated 100 years of medical illustration a few years ago .

The exhibition will make you marvel at the amazing intricacy of the human body, the enormous talent of medical illustrators, and the trajectory the profession has taken over the past 100 years to produce art for medical science. The collection includes an array of subjects — anatomy, pathologic specimens, surgical techniques, textbook illustrations, magazine covers, and more — created with pen and ink, carbon dust, watercolor, photography, and digitized media.

Dr. Levent Efe specialises in medical illustrations and this pregnant elephant is one of their many fascinating works:


Pregnant Elephant Image Credit Dr. Levant Efe

h/t: Science is Beauty


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