Friday, May 31, 2013

Giant Siphonophore

A giant siphonophore (Praya dubia) is a colonial Cnidarian like the Porteguese man-o-war. It can get up to 130 feet long and can be found at up to 1000 feet deep. Each of the small animals are connected together and have different functions like feeding, swimming, and reproducing. The "head" or swimming bell is the nectosome and the long "tail" is the siphosome. These guys can bioluminesce a blue color to attract their prey. The giant siphonophore is part of the Aquarium of the Pacific's new exhibit on Ocean Exploration called Wonders of the Deep. Since the images of these animals of their full length are mostly low-resolution ROV video captures and since the original designs called for a 40 ft image, I decided to illustrate the animal instead of going through the frustration of Photoshopping, cloning, and blowing up itty bitty pixels. Illustration gave me the flexibility to play around with the size of the image to fit the context and also to blur or clarify the parts of the image that overlapped or went behind other Photoshopped photos. This first image is the final image as it went to pre-press, with the images from the different sections and two walls put together. The illustration was built at 1/8" size.

Here's a close-up of the front of the siphophore, with the nectosome and some of the siphosome showing.

And here is the image in the context of the Wonders of the Deep Gallery. The projections above it show animals that live in the abyssal plains, 13,000 ft down. The siphophore isn't one of those animals, it's more an element to tie together the different panels. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo. It's an appropriately dark exhibit.

If you find yourself in Long Beach, come check out the new Ocean Exploration exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific!

Friday, February 08, 2013

Putting together the whole

I suspect that people working as illustration editors for magazines do this kind of thing all the time, but I thought it might be interesting to take a look at what I get handed before I start an illustration. This is a post touching on the process behind creating an illustration from existing materials.

While it's essentially a tracing job, it's not quite as straight forward.

What you get is this:

What they want is this:

I created this image for a forum on planning the use of marine space off the California Coast. It's officially called coastal marine spatial planning (CMSP). You can read more about the forum here. It's a vector image created in Adobe Illustrator with a map base created in GIS software and additional data added. I put reference links to the original image where possible.

This is the original map:

You can see the general shape of the land mass in the image. The shape of the coastline is directly pulled from this image. However, since the final image was reproduced at 8' wide, I added more detail to the map using other maps of the Southern California area.

 This is a reference image that I used to create the oil platform icon:

And this is the reference for placement of the oil platforms:

I used this map for the Marine Protected Areas (represented in green) and the state boundaries (represented in blue):

Federal boundaries (represented in purple) and shipping lanes (teal) were traced from a nautical map:
found here:

And the final layer was of Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) represented by an outline of the Garibaldi (yellow):

Just a little look behind the scenes of everyday illustrations, making science and data more beautiful through art.