Computer Graphics World

Edition 2 2020

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34 cgw e d i t i o n 2 , 2 0 2 0 I n the early part of the year, COVID-19 struck, and struck hard and fast. In a matter of a few months, this novel coronavirus infected close to 4.7 million people in the US alone, killing 160,000 of them as of early August, and those number continue to rise with each passing day. Indeed, this microscopic monster has impacted the lives of people around the globe in ways we could never have imagined. And yet, it's safe to say that most of us have never seen this virus, although all of us can instantly recognize it on sight, thanks to the work of medical illustrators and animators. These specialized artists use illustrations and animations to help the medical com- munity as well as scholars and the public ac- curately communicate complex information, and in the case of COVID-19, put a "face" to this invisible infectious agent. The work requires significant education and training, both in the medical/science fields and in the arts – a le brain/right brain profession requiring a very specific type of skill. Here we look at three medical illustra- tors and how they are using the same type of 3D tools and techniques employed by filmmakers and others to ply their cra. Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins, CDC Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins are both medical illustrators at the CDC in Atlanta, and it was their work that led to the image of COVID-19 that is seen everywhere, from the covers of magazines, to charts and graphs used by medical experts, to the nightly news broadcasts. Eckert initially planned to become a veter- inarian, but has always taken art classes for fun. She started out studying biology for a few years and then switched to scientific illustration, an interdisciplinary study that combines science and art, aer discovering that she could combine both those inter- ests into one profession through medical illustration. She looked into it as a career and determined it was for her. She eventu- ally earned a master of science degree in medical illustration, having had to com- plete classes alongside medical students, in addition to art classes that focused on illustrating scientific information. Right out of school, she began working at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), where she has been employed for 14 years now. Left Brain, Right Brain ANIMATORS USE COMPUTER GRAPHICS TO HELP EXPLAIN COMPLEX MEDICAL CONCEPTS BY KAREN MOLTENBREY Medical animators Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins of the CDC created this image of the COVID-19 virus.

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