A medical illustrator is a professional artist with extensive training inmedicine andscience who interprets and creates visual material to help record and disseminate medical, biological and related knowledge. Medical illustrators not only produce such material but function as consultants and administrators within the field of biocommunication.
They create medical illustrations using traditional and digital techniques which can appear in medical textbooks, medical advertisements, professional journals, instructional videotapes and films, animations, computer-assisted learning programs, exhibits, lecture presentations, general magazines and television. Although most medical illustration is designed for print or presentation media, medical illustrators also work in three dimensions, creating anatomical teaching models, patient simulators and facial prosthetics.
Medical illustrations have been made for hundreds (or thousands) of years; many illuminated manuscripts and Arabic scholarly treatises of the medieval period contained illustrations representing various anatomical systems (circulatory, nervous, urogenital), pathologies, or treatment methodologies. Many of these illustrations can look odd to modern eyes, since they reflect early reliance on classical scholarship (especiallyGalen) rather than direct observation, and the representation of internal structures can be fanciful. An early high-water mark was the 1542 CE publication of Andreas Vesalius's De Humani
extraordinary artist, he created new techniques, such as carbon dust, that were especially suitable to his subject matter and then-current printing technologies. In 1911 he presided over the creation of the first academic department of medical illustration, which continues to this day. His graduates spread out across the world, and founded a number of the academic programs listed below.
The Association of Medical Illustrators (external link) is an international organization founded in 1945, and incorporated in Illinois. Its members are primarily artists who create material designed to facilitate the recording and dissemination of medical and bioscientific knowledge through visual communication media. Members are involved not only in the creation of such material, but also serve in consultant, advisory, educational and administrative capacities in all aspects of bioscientific communications and related areas of visual education.
The professional objectives of the AMI are to promote the study and advancement of medical illustration and allied fields of visual communication, and to promote understanding and cooperation with the medical profession and related health science professions.
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