Medical Illustration WIP: The Osteocyte Network Inside Compact Bone

So, here is my starting point for this figure. I will often set my sketch layer to multiply and then colorize it with an additional adjustment layer.


I went over my process for rendering these cell bodies and extensions in an earlier post so I am just focusing on the surrounding bone matrix here. In this image, I have:

  • darkened the channels to make them look like tunnels
  • added a rim of shadow to one side of each tunnel
  • added a rim of light to the corresponding hill that a tunnel cuts through or surrounds
  • added some subtle embossing effects to produce the texture on the hills

These blue osteocytes sit inside fluid filled channels. The cell bodies and the processes are covered. So to indicate that:

  • I did a flat fill in the tunnels on a separate layer. (This indicated the liquid.)
  • I set that layer's transparency to high.
  • In a new layer, I added highlights on either side of the furrow to indicate the viscosity and reflective nature of the fluid.

Lastly, to indicate that the cell bodies themselves are also covered in fluid, I extended the highlights on the processes onto the cell bodies.


Below is the final illustration with labels. I painted a haze behind the labels to increase the contrast between the text and the figure. 


That is it for this week's post! Thanks for looking. Feel free to like or share if you found this helpful! 

If you would like to see more work, visit my Wordpress blog! 

Medical Illustration Work in Progress: Figure 03 - Osteocytes

I discussed some of the process behind this sketch in an earlier post. I had just re-visited the concepts of light, shadow and form and it really influenced my rendering process. 

Sketch layer

Sketch layer

The image below goes a little beyond a flat fill and into some rendering. I almost never use black for my shadows. I usually start with a deep color like burgundy or navy.

If I want to check if I chose the right shadow color I'll apply a hue/saturation adjustment layer. From there, I will move the slider around the scale while glancing at the illustration. The right hue becomes obvious when I do this.

New: shadow on osteocyte and beneath processes, highlight on matrix, embossed texture on matrix

New: shadow on osteocyte and beneath processes, highlight on matrix, embossed texture on matrix

Here, I have begun adding highlights - my favorite part! I chose either a cool or a warm highlight color depending on which side of the osteocyte I was on. 

New: highlights on processes and cell body

New: highlights on processes and cell body

My next favorite part - reflective light. I selected colors from the surrounding matrix, and then lightened and increased their saturation. I glazed over the underside of the cell with my brush set to a very low flow in photoshop.

The final rendered osteocyte!

The final rendered osteocyte!

Below is the final image with text.

That's it! The making of an osteocyte! Come back again to see figure 4!

Feel free to visit my Wordpress blog to see more work! 

Medical Illustration WIP : Figure 02 - Histology of Compact Bone

This figure is an additional orienting view for the figure that comes after it. It depicts the general histology of compact bone.

I generally start with a sketch which I ultimately colorize in photoshop to remove the gray tones. 

Next, I add a flat fill. I spend some time here because messy, out of boundary color fills are a pain to find and clean up later in the illustration!

For the image below, I duplicated the radiating lines layer, whitened the duplicate using an adjustment layer, and then offset the duplicate from the original in order to get this grooved appearance. This technique is featured on the AMI website here. I've also added shadows.

Lastly, I added highlights to the osteocytes, cleaned them up with a stroke and hinted at nuclei.

Below is the final image with labels.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Up next is figure 3. 

Feel free to visit my Wordpress blog to see more work!