Thursday, December 22, 2011

James Gurney Integrates Science and Illustration

Art teachers are often looking for ways to integrate the arts with other subject areas. With the addition of design to the curriculum there is no need to make up superficial ways to integrate with other subject areas because integration is a natural part of the process. An illustrator like James Gurney (left), for example, integrates science in a variety of ways even in his fantasy illustrations of dinosaurs in his popular "Dinotopia" book series (right).

Gurney's knowledge of real science is so strong that he is often called upon to provide illustrations for Scientific American magazine. In addition, he applies scientific principles of visual perception in his work to gain the most compelling visual effects. Our eyes are often fooled by the variation in colors seen in shadow, sunlight, or different colored lights. Gurney has made careful studies of these effects.

Click on the video below of Gurney talking about creating an illustration for Scientific American. In the video he describes his process for doing an illustration depicting a 90-million-year-old scene of dinosaurs becoming trapped in mud. Students should be aware of the amazing amount of background research Gurney does to create his illustrations. In art class we often jump right to the finished product without the research, preliminary studies and exploration necessary for high quality results. If students are interested in scientific illustration, James Gurney is one of the masters.

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