Just What Is Scientific Illustration?

by Micah Gordley on April 30, 2021

Just What Is Scientific Illustration?

by Micah Gordley on April 30, 2021

Whenever I tell someone I’m majoring in Scientific Illustration, the next question is always, “What is that?” or “What would you do with that degree?” Scientific Illustration is a program that’s both specific and really interesting, but is often not fully understood. So let’s break down what it is at Arcadia. 

Scientific Illustration combines art and science and is often what you might recall seeing in textbooks. At Arcadia, you can use it to focus on biology and depict plant life, or you can follow a pre-med track that sets you up to focus on medical illustration and anatomy later on, which is what I am doing. Both are great options; it just depends on what you’re most interested in!

Though it’s a challenging major, Scientific Illustration is something that continues to surprise me and crosses over in ways I didn’t expect.

- Micah Gordley

Scientific Illustration is definitely one of the more intensive majors, and there are a lot of credits needed for it. My first year has consisted of many broader classes, like general biology, beginning art classes, and my gen eds, all adjusted to be online, of course. Though in-person classes would have been ideal, especially for art classes and labs, I still was engaged and utilized what I had at home. 

Though it’s a challenging major, Scientific Illustration is something that continues to surprise me and crosses over in ways I didn’t expect. I chose it because as an artist, I always go back to capturing realism and expression, and people are my favorite subject. Scientific Illustration also drew me in because it uses both the right and left parts of the brain. I love the challenge of bouncing between creating something out of nothing and then learning processes and facts that I can apply later on to what I make. 

Micah's drawings

It also has been useful in ways I didn’t think of, like studying. Drawing out the processes and structures in biology made a huge difference in how I understood and remembered a lesson. 

Scientific Illustration is an opportunity to combine two fields that normally would be opposites. For every one person who is unaware of it, there’s another that tells me they loved to look at the illustrations in textbooks as a kid. It may be a specific major, but it’s also one of the most valuable to me.