Wayne Heim – The Hidden World


illustrator_wheim01_smallMedical illustration can be a squishy business, according to Wayne Heim, a professional medical illustrator and president of Indexed Visuals, Inc. « Much of what medical illustrator’s ‘draw’ is produced because it is impossible to see with the naked eye, or too difficult or ‘gory’ to publish. 3D provides a perfect tool for uniquely visualizing these hard-to-see topics.

While Heim has used several 3D graphics authoring packages, he feels that trueSpace is particularly well suited for medical illustration because of the particular “look” generated from the product.

We work with tissues, fuzzy textures and malleable parts. trueSpace does a great job with organic objects and warm, soft lighting. Sometimes you don’t want to make something too realistic – you are trying to educate and avoid creating too gross or bloody of an effect. »

« You want the object to look a little softer and friendlier. Of course, you can always create something that is spectacularly realistic using trueSpace tools, but I find that more often, basic or even the default settings will generate the illustrated look my clients prefer. »

In order to create his meticulously precise models, he typically spends as much as 60-70% of the time devoted to a project on research. After the research is done, he often works in series, creating multiple versions of an image from different angles or with different colors, styles, lighting, etc.

Use of trueSpace’s simple/default settings also offers the advantage of speed, something that Heim says directly affects his bottom line. “The faster I can turn something around, or the more efficient my workflow, the more profitable my efforts will be. When I can use quick, simple, or often just the default settings to turn around a killer comp in 15 minutes, it’s efficient for me and an advantage for my time-pressed clients.

illustrator_wheim02_smallThis is a big advantage,” said Heim. “I can create a great looking comp using trueSpace in a fraction of the time it would take me in competitive packages – like LightWave or Maya. I often use just the default settings in trueSpace, tweak a few options, generate an absolutely beautiful screen render and send it off to the client for review. Thereafter, modifications are pretty trivial, since I’m working with a 3D model and I don’t have to re-create anything in order to make a change. I can respond quickly to a client’s request for changes, making something bigger or smaller, change the lighting, perspective, texture or color with a few clicks. Then, once the customer is satisfied, I turn on all the ‘bells and whistles’ and generate a gorgeous finished high-resolution render.

Generally, Heim uses a combination of tools to provide him with the image he is looking for with a particular design. “2D, 3D, airbrush – I will usually bring elements of each,” he said. “When I’m done no one can tell where one method started and another stops. For example, I may start by modeling something in trueSpace, export the object into an airbrushed 2D picture and then use Photoshop to merge the images together.

Or, I’ll often create 3D models of products or devices from photographs in trueSpace, so that they can be viewed from all angles and modified as necessary. I might then pull the image back into Photoshop to do some tweaking by hand, and composite the images when I’m satisfied with the result.

 » Much of what medical illustrator’s “draw” is impossible to see with the naked eye, or too difficult or “gory” to publish. 3D provides a perfect tool for uniquely visualizing these hard-to-see topics.

Heim finds that he uses 3D more and more in his work, not just because of the efficiency advantages, but because it gives him more control over all aspects of the user’s experience with the illustration.

I enjoy bringing that ‘story telling’ feeling or ‘user involvement’ into my website designs and illustrations,” he said.

According to Heim, the ability to accurately and uniquely tell a story is one of the most interesting and challenging aspects of his field and something that will continue to push the envelope of design and user interaction. 3D provides a perfect visualization tool for this type of work.

illustrator_wheim03_smallMany of the new treatments that we are learning about as a result of the Human Genome project will take place at the molecular or cellular level. Without involving trained medical illustrators and the work they produce, it will be very difficult to accurately show and educate people about these treatments, how they work, their effects, etc. As long as science and medicine continue their rapid progress, there will always be the need to visualize or animate something that couldn’t otherwise be presented.

With this need for imagery in mind, Heim created Indexed Visuals, (www.indexedvisuals.com) a company that currently represents more than 200 artists and 10,000 images. “I wanted to enable myself and other artists to market their work in a more artist-friendly way and enable them to retain control over the images.”As natural a fit as 3D technology is for medical illustration, Heim feels his industry has been slow to embrace the technology. “Certainly the learning curve and cost of some of the packages has been an issue for people, and some of the masters are still immersed in a 2D or pencil and paper world. But for me, trueSpace was immediately appealing because I was able to master it in a short time. And I’ve kept using it because it’s one of the fastest ways of producing accurate, exciting, organic 3D models and images with no trade-off in visual quality.