I was commissioned by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the USA to illustrate a laboratory for their annual newsletter.
Rather than just text and figures, they wanted to develop a colourful image that best personified the organisation.
The idea being that they would feature their modern laboratories showing a hi-tech, busy environment with all the latest features. It also needed to deliver a sense of humanity so we would need to add plenty of scientists at work.
The challenge of illustrating a laboratory
I was given a very long list of items which had to be in the illustration as the text would be referring directly to them. These items needed to be prominent.
I also needed to cram it full of all the usual bottles, measuring jugs, and files that one would find in any other busy lab. Finally, I needed to feature six scientists at work wearing the right lab coats. All looking natural and airy.
I felt my pencil stage needed to be really accurate. As I worked out the scene, I ticked off all the necessary items as I went. I needed to ensure all the bottles, that were the same make, went back in perspective accurately. My old art college training came in handy here.
I kept a space in the foreground to prevent the scene looking cramped. A bit of refection helped to lift it all too and it all slowly came together as a cohesive image.
We had a few amends on the initial drawing though nothing major.
Illustrating the laboratory
When it came to the painting, the laboratory I used plenty of warm colours on the floors, and cupboards to lift the feel of the environment. Here too, I put in plenty of reflections to increase the sense of space.
Where I had to use cold colours such as metal table tops, I punctuated them with items of red and orange as a warmer counterpoint.
Thankfully, it all worked out very well and we had minimal amends in the end.
This could have been a very tricky job, had it not been for the process employed to visualise the illustration in the early stages. The developmental pencil work was crucial in communicating with the client about what the final piece would look like, and that every item needed was there not to mention the look and feel.
“Working with Liam was a great experience. He understood our project completely, was highly creative, delivered top quality work on time and was very communicative. Without hesitation, we would use him again for another project.”
Department of Communications
Associate Art Director
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
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