Anatomy and Art

a blog by Sara Egner

Upcoming Show

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Austin locals, please do come check out the works that are going up at Forbidden Fruit this weekend.

art show info

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June 5th, 2018 at 8:14 am

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With

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I finally finished this piece I’ve been working on for a while now.  I’m calling this one With.

 

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May 20th, 2018 at 1:25 pm

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The Young Artist and the Critic

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I don’t usually post memes here, but I just liked this one.

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April 8th, 2018 at 1:42 pm

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Nephron Anatomy

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I recently had an assignment to create a nephron illustration.  I’ve illustrated nephrons before, and I even thought I’d be able to re-use some of my old work.  But it turns out, all of my previous work with nephrons was at a more introductory level.  I have to say, I was downright disappointed.  Because science gets complicated, and anatomy in particular, there are a lot of times when models are simplified for clarity, but it really bothers me when I feel like students are actively mislead.

The first time I ever illustrated a nephron was in grad school.  I did it for my pen and ink assignment, and was really happy with how it turned out.


Then not long after I started with Sapling Learning, I wound up illustrating a nephron in Photoshop.


We even used arrows with this one at one point to show flow.  And I looked at a lot of images throughout making both of these images.  But not until a more advanced illustration request came up, did I ever realize that the distal tube of the nephron always passes by the opening of the capsule between the efferent and afferent arterioles.  There’s actually an important feedback process that happens there where the contents of the tubule affect dilation and therefore the rate of filtration happening.

If you look up the juxtaglomerular apparatus you can find a lot of references at this level.  That one detail of form is an important part of how nephrons work.  So it bothers me that it’s so widely agreed not to feature it in more introductory images.  They do that for clarity, but I think it’s too important and really I’m not sure that it actually adds all that much more complexity.  So this is my most recent nephron artwork.  It’s not my prettiest version, but it does tell more of the story.  If we’d had more time, we probably would have done more with the form of the podocytes.  They really weren’t the point of the illustration though, so we settled for at least giving them a nod.  This was more about showing the layout of the cells between where the distal tubule passes between those in and outgoing arterioles to allow for the signal exchange about how much filtration is needed and for flow to be appropriately affected via dilation.


So now I’m hoping that moving forward, I can always use that simple design change in representing nephrons so that when students get to this part, it’s not so jarring.  Maybe a lot of students don’t get stuck on details like that, but I know that I always have, and I know that I’m not the only one.

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March 21st, 2018 at 2:16 pm

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Head and Neck with Jasmine

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I recently got a chance to put a friend’s face in some anatomy work.  Sometime back the lovely Jasmine Harris let me photograph her face at Macmillan and I recently had the opportunity to pull it up for an AP illustration.  I used the Zygote model for much of the internal anatomy and made some adjustments to both fit Jasmine’s head and neck more appropriately and also to improve the accuracy for the cutplane view.

image - head and neck anatomy

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February 12th, 2018 at 10:14 pm

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Prints Again

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Picked up test strips of art prints today.  I’ve been enjoying playing with changes in scale on prints, and I think I may try blowing another of my smaller pieces up.

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February 10th, 2018 at 12:54 am

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Upcoming Art Show in Austin

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It sounds like I’m going to be doing an art show this spring with Austin’s friendly neighborhood sex shop, Forbidden Fruit.  I’m going to be bringing out a few of my older pieces for this one, especially if they let me display prints.  I’ve been hoping to pull off something new too, though honestly it’s been a while since I’ve been in love or even lust for that matter with anyone and I’m not sure what to make.  I’ve been a bit stuck in the making of new paintings lately, and one thing that’s nice about doing a show is that it gives you a concrete reason to push through a slump like that, or even if it doesn’t, it usually leaves you with new thoughts and feelings about your work afterwards that can often be channeled into new ideas.  Either way, it’ll be good to get my work up again.

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February 3rd, 2018 at 3:15 pm

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Using Sweep Nurbs to Make Vessels in C4D

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A little while back, I found myself needing to show the coronary vessels of the heart, but our purchased model didn’t include them.  It wound up being a nice opportunity to dive into some good anatomy again, and play with sweep nurbs in Cinema 4D.  I didn’t think this would work as well as it did, but I simply drew splines around the heart model where the coronary vessels would go, and created sweep nurbs over them.

The real finesse point was realizing that you can actually make sweep nurbs swell and get smaller with a pull down graph in the panel settings, which allowed me to have vessels swell when they would meet, and just look more natural overall.

And in the end, I thought they looked great. 🙂

image of 3D coronary vessels

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January 28th, 2018 at 8:00 pm

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Code

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Seems like about a couple of times a year I get it in my head to try and tackle coding in some way shape of form.  Unfortunately, I’m not good at it.  But one of these days I hope for something to finally click.  This particular time, I’m looking at a thing called Processing.  I think it’s basically a fancier level of javascript that’s geared toward artists.  The tutorials are definitely set up to start at the beginning, unlike last year when I thought I’d just figure out Unity (for which I found painstakingly slow explanations of things like shapes, but everything just assumed you knew at least a couple of coding languages going in).  Anyway, I thought I’d share the link here for anyone else who wants to play around with this a little.  A little ways in to the tutorial videos, you get a sandbox to play in there (and if you’re not used to that expression, that’s a place to try typing the code where you can see what it does without first having to work it into an html file for yourself and open it in a browser).
processing.org

And if you want to get really fancy, Paper.js looks really cool too.  But I think it’s still too far over my head.  Even so, the home page is just lovely to play with.
paperjs.org

It’s nice having friends who send you stuff like this 🙂

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January 11th, 2018 at 9:56 am

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The Wiggle Expression

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Recently at work, I’ve had cause to use the wiggle expression in After Effects.  If you’ve never done this, it’s pretty simple to set up.  First, open up the transform controls in your timeline for the object to which you intend to apply the effect.  Then alt-click the position stopwatch.  You’ll be prompted to add an expression in the timeline under the layer, and there you’ll write wiggle(1,20).  Actually, the numbers will be whatever you want them to be.  The first specifies how many wiggles per second you want to apply.  The second specifies the amplitude of the wiggle in pixels.

In my case, this effect was really great for bobbing around a bunch of molecules in a scene.  But I ran into trouble when I wanted to ease up the effect for more control.  To use my example again, I needed molecules to bob around in liquid, and then pass through a semi-permeable membrane, which required more control over them, and then go back to bobbing about.

screen shot of water molecules moving across a semi-permeable membrane

So, to do this, you need a slider control layer.  So you’ll create a new adjustment layer.  Then under the effects pull-down, up top, go to expression controls, and then slider control.  Then you’ll highlight the number on your expression that you’d like slider control over.  In my case it was the amplitude (see the 20 in the example).  With that number highlighted, you’ll grab the pickwick (looks like a swirl) and literally pull it up toward the slider stopwatch.  You’ll see your code change it it’s worked.

Your wiggle expression will then be defaulted to zero until you dial the slider control up.  Now you can keyframe that feature to begin slowly, or to reduce mid animation for greater position control when you need it.

Some of this is easier to understand when you see it, and doesn’t really lend itself well to explanatory screen shots.  This YouTube video by Ian Killick does a great job of showing the process…

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September 30th, 2017 at 10:19 am

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