Smoked Out

Double-page spread created as part of the Visual representation of processes in human pathology course in the Masters in Biomedical communications (2020)

The goal of this assignment was to create a conceptual medical illustration explaining a particular disease process to an educated lay audience, as a double-page spread for a popular science magazine.

I chose the topic of smoke-related lung cancer, because it is a pathology for which better health education could “easily” help reduce the number of cases as the etiology is so strongly linked to smoking. I later refined it to smoke-related lung squamous cell carcinoma to avoid over-generalization and inaccuracies.

I organized the information in three different scales: the cellular and molecular level, the tissue level, and the organism level. My intention was for the viewer to be able to read and understand each part of the story independently, but also that each of them would build on each other and work in synergy. I wanted to integrate a 3D environment, mostly for engagement reasons, and also to serve as a strong converging point for the eye. I had from early on this idea of comparing the interior of the bronchus with the inside of a tunnel filled with smoke, because it is a familiar and powerful image for most of us. In addition, I wanted to underline the causal link between smoking and lung cancer by rendering the tumor in a style that would remind the viewer of a glowing cigarette tip (which is also present, even only subtly, in the hand of the top left character). I was committed to also use some schematic, flat, 2D illustrations for both aesthetics (interesting style variation) and comprehension reasons (avoid unnecessary cognitive overload).

This piece is very dark on purpose to set the mood of the viewer. I decided to use the greyscale as the base of my palette, in order to stay coherent with the theme of smoke/smoking/tar. This choice also enabled me to easily put the emphasis on key elements through the selective use of more salient colors.

Audience: Educated lay public

Media: Maxon Cinema4D, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop