How It
Works

How
It
Works

Technical Illustrations for The Scientist magazine

Distilling the complex

The Scientist is the magazine for life science professionals—a publication dedicated to covering a wide range of topics central to the study of cell and molecular biology, genetics, and other life-science fields. Through innovative print articles, online stories, and multimedia features, the magazine explores the latest scientific discoveries, trends in research, innovative techniques, new technology, business, and careers. It is read by leading researchers in industry and academia who value penetrating analyses and broad perspectives on life-science topics both within and beyond their areas of expertise. Written by prominent scientists and professional journalists, articles in The Scientist are concise, accurate, accessible, and entertaining.

I worked with the editors to create a series of in-depth articles called How It Works, that set out to make extremely complex (and often proprietary) lab equipment understandable for users. Over several years, I created more than 30 different illustrations of cutting-edge technology and life-science methods.

HIW_Microarray Scanner-7Tech_Mockup
Keep it simple

Despite the apparent complexity of the task, it was my job to make sure that anyone reading the article would be able to visually grasp how the machine was made, although without ever giving away any trade secrets or IP of the manufacturers. I worked with both the The Scientist writers and equipment manufacturers themselves to help navigate this tricky tighrope. 

HIW_Optical trap_mockup
Visually interesting

There is always a chance with simplification that the visuals themselves would become boring, or worse, innacurate. So before starting each new illustration, I would do extensive research into materials, methods, and techniques, in order to guarantee an accurate but interesting visual.

HIW_04_0412
7T_DNA_Seq
Confocal Microscope
Showing the invisible

The greatest challenge with the How It Works series was making microscopic, subatomic, or even invisible processes come to life. I used a variety of techniques, from movement arrows to "laser beams" to step-by-step walkthroughs in order to make the unseen be understood.  

HIW_Lab on a chip_mockup
HIW_Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorter_mockup
A sampling of the work

In the image gallery below you can find many of the How It Works technical Illustrations as they were originally published in the magazine. The Scientist retains all copyrights on the text and print layouts.

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