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Science Illustration Creation Process
Tell me about your story! Do you have an exciting new research development or a technological advance? What are you excited to share with the world? What is unique about your research? Who are you trying to reach: other scientists, the interested public, or a broad audience? Reach out to me and we will get started.
After you reach out to say hello, we’ll send you a form that gives you pricing and policy information, with questions for you to help you share the important details of your project. Namely; due date, scope, and where it will be used. We know, sometimes it’s easier to just have a quick conversation, so at any point we can set-up a complimentary 20-min Meet-and-Greet chat. After I have the needed information you, we’ll send you a detailed proposal with cost and schedule estimates for your review.
3. Client Portal
Let’s get started! Once you have accepted the proposal and contract, we can begin. First, we will send you a link to your client portal where you can access important forms, plus other relevant project materials, including a link to a showcase to review drafts. If you ever need to come back to the client portal, you can access it here with your main point of contact’s email address. This will also give you access to a reference uploader, so that it’s easy for you to send files without clogging up your email (although email is fine too!).
1. Gathering Sources
At Sayo Studio, we focus on the hard work that should come before pencils hit the paper: research and innovative thinking. We build off of your initial description, may it be in a detailed design brief, or in an informal conversation describing the key points, and use that to guide our further research. Any content you send is helpful, including manuscripts, figures, presentations, and even a competitor’s image. No, we definitely won’t copy it ;-), but it can be helpful to know where/how to make our work different and stand-out. We’re trained to read background literature, and details, say in the methods, may not be important to the big picture, but help us add texture and depth to the artwork. And yes, we definitely are familiar with embargoes and non-disclosure agreements.
2. Concept Development
Now, we dive into the details. We’ve gathered your resources, discovered our own, and looked to see what other resources are out there and how we can improve upon them. Working from your source material—manuscript, figures, presentations—we work together to craft the visual story that explains your science, and it’s importance. We can start from your detailed design brief, or from text descriptions and references. I’ll offer my own ideas on how to visualize and feature your science.
Once I have all the background research, I use your guidance on what to emphasize and hunker down to supplement with my own research. As I read and process the material, it’s possible I’ll have a few questions for you as I work. In all likelihood though, you won’t hear from me until I have the sketch. Often it’s easiest to include a list of notes and questions with the sketch in the next stage.
With my scientific background, I ask the right questions to clarify your vision and create truly unique bold illustrations.
1. Pencil Sketch
The fun begins, with old fashion pencil and paper. The reasons we start with a sketch are two-fold. One, as a quick way to start to visualize your work and confirm that we’re on the same page. Two, we’ve found that a pencil sketch, as opposed to more developed color, gives you more room to offer feedback. If we’re creating an animation for you, this is much the same, but with a scene by scene sketched sequence called a storyboard for your review.
2. Sketch Review
In this sketch phase, 2 rounds of sketch revisions are included in the base price. This is the point to ask for complete overhauls. Not happy with the composition? Let us know and we can create a new sketch. If there are small shifts, we’ll incorporate those edits into the color artwork. Once you have approved the pencil sketch (with noted detail edits to incorporate in color), 2 rounds of detail revisions (e.g. resizing elements, fixing accuracies not seen in the pencil sketch) are included in the cost. Large edits to the composition may be possible, but will incur additional fees.
1. Color Artwork
Once the sketches have captured the key concepts and details, we use a suite of digital software to bring our vision to life. The industry-leading 3d and digital software used are as follows:
- 3d modeling with Cinema 4d and Zbrush for use in still illustrations and animation.
- Photoshop and Procreate for hand drawing, and final collaging to create unified final art.
- Illustrator for vector art and labeling.
- After Effects for animation final production.
2. Full Color Art Review
This is the point that we carefully review the artwork, and make sure there aren’t any small details to fix. Essentially, we clean up any last smudges, and address any changes that were too difficult to review in the pencil sketch like transparency. At this point 2 rounds of detail revisions (e.g. resizing elements, fixing accuracies not seen in the pencil sketch) are included in the cost. Large edits to the composition may be possible, but will incur additional fees.
3. Final Art Delivery
Finally, we’ll deliver your files in your client showcase to the specifications you need, whether it be for print, web, or other uses. If you realize you need something else after we’re ‘done’ just let us know and we’ll find a solution.