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AMI Members Recognized in the 2008 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge
Amanda Yarberry Behr, MA, CMI, AMI PR Committee Chairman
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Three members of the Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI), Linda Nye, Donald Bliss, and Travis Vermilye, received awards in the 2008 National Science Foundation (NSF) and Science's International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. Since 2002, the NSF and Science have awarded artists in celebration of the impact of visual imagery on science and public understanding of scientific research. Linda Nye received First Place in the Illustration Category for Zoom into the Human Bloodstream, her collaboration with the Exploratorium Visualization Laboratory. Donald Bliss, a medical illustrator with the National Library of Medicine (NLM), was awarded Honorable Mention in the Illustration Category for 3D Imaging of Mammalian Cells with Ion-Abrasion Scanning Electron Microscopy, which was a collaboration with scientist Sriram Subramaniam at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Travis Vermilye was recognized with an Honorable Mention in the Non-Interactive Media Category for his animated collaboration with Kenneth Eward, A Window into Life.

Linda Nye
Illustration: First Place Winner


Artistic Background


Linda Nye started her artistic career in high school studying under her father as an American Western art painter. She exhibited and sold her oil-on-canvas work with her father after high school in galleries in Scottsdale, AZ and Santa Fe, NM. After finishing a few semesters of college focusing on art, she was hired as an in-house artist by Hallmark Cards, Inc., in Kansas City. At Hallmark Cards, Inc. for four years, she worked and trained in traditional media on a wide range of products from gift-wrapping to sculpted Christmas ornaments. In the mid-eighties Linda began her transition into scientific and medical illustration. Linda's personal interest in aerospace and astronomy served as a springboard for work with the aerospace industry, then, with start-up biomedical companies in the San Diego area, illustrating their annual reports. Although her roots as an illustrator are very traditional, including figure drawing and oil painting, Linda embraced computer art and especially 3D modeling technologies early. Linda says that she was on "the bleeding edge of technology" by starting in 1986 with the Mac Plus then adopting Photoshop and Illustrator (version 1) when they were available. Linda has been a member of the AMI since 1995.

Zoom into the Human Bloodstream


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Zoom into the Human Bloodstream © 2008 L.S.Nye
Linda Nye beautifully combined traditional art and 3D technologies in Zoom into the Human Bloodstream. At the top of the image, a graphite figure drawing of a man descends into an ever increasingly colorful and "high-tech" rendering of anatomical structures down to the nano-scale. The 48 inches by 12 inches poster is part of a three-part installation demonstrating the scale of the small particles in the body. The pieces will also be displayed as large banners at the Exploratorium Visualization Laboratory Museum.

The second and third panels demonstrate the structure of a butterfly wing and the structure of a computer. All of the panels align so that structures of the same size are at the same level of each panel so that viewers can compare. Linda combined traditional illustration techniques such as graphite in the figure at the top of the piece with 3D modeling software, Strata 3D™ CX, at the bottom of the piece. The poster was artfully pieced together in Adobe® Photoshop® using traditional techniques of aerial perspective used by landscape painters. Linda collaborated with scientific advisors for the Exploratorium Visualization Laboratory to accurately identify anatomical and scientific structures and their precise size relationships to other structures.

Donald Bliss
Illustration: Honorable Mention Winner


Artistic Background


Donny has been an AMI member since 1990, when he joined as a student member. Donny developed an interest in medical illustration in college. He was a pre-med major in college and took art classes for fun. One day, he happened upon a poster "Things you can do with a Biology Degree" and discovered the field of medical illustration. Finding medical illustration a perfect fit for his interests and talents, he attended graduate school in medical illustration at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After graduating from Hopkins, Donny worked in the Johns Hopkins Hospital Radiology Department. There he was given the opportunity to explore computer art technology. He worked for four years developing interactive multimedia projects targeted at medical students. Donny then worked for Engineering Animation, Inc. (EAI), where he developed his 3D animation skills. After EAI, Donny worked for five years at NIH in the Medical Arts Group as the Acting Chief of Designers and Illustrators. Donny currently works at the NLM as part of a collaborative scientific team.

3D Imaging of Mammalian Cells with Ion-Abrasion Scanning Electron Microscopy


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3D Imaging of Mammalian Cells with Ion-Abrasion Scanning Electron Microscopy, Donald Bliss and Sriram Subramaniam
As a demonstration of the collaborative environment at NLM, Donny visualized the many-layered Ion-Abrasion Scanning Electron Microscope images of a melanoma cell. Donny isolated structures of the nucleus shown as a dark globe, surrounded by pink mitochondria and yellow endoplasmic reticulum. The many tiff images generated from the microscope were segmented into polygons and used to generate a 3D vrml file. Donny used Autodesk® 3D Studio Max® to texture map the 3D structure and global illumination to replicate real world lighting. To add perspective, Donny used Adobe® Photoshop® to create a depth-of-field effect.

Travis Vermilye
Non-Interactive Media: Honorable Mention Winner


Artistic Background


After discovering the AMI website while pursuing an art degree, Travis worked with the faculty at Southwest Missouri State University to develop a personalized interdisciplinary studies degree in biological illustration with the intention of pursuing a master's degree in medical illustration. Travis received his master's degree in medical illustration from the University of Michigan in 2002. He has been a member of the AMI since 2001 when he joined as a student member. After graduation, Travis moved to Golden, Colorado to work for Medical Modeling, Inc., a small but growing company that creates physical replicas of patient anatomy for surgical planning with the help of rapid prototyping technology and medical image data. As the chief artist for the company, Travis was responsible for all artwork from web design and creation of marketing materials to development of new products such as a digital method for creating cranial implants for repair of bony defects. Most notable was work done in the planning for surgical separation of craniopagus conjoined Egyptian twins, Ahmed and Mohamed Ibrahim. Work on this case included stereolithography models of the complex venous network surrounding the brains as well as external models of the soft tissue. These were used in development of a special rotating operating table for the separation. Travis left Medical Modeling in 2006 and currently enjoys a successful freelance career in medical illustration and animation.

A Window into Life


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Stills from A Window into Life, copyright 2008 Kenneth Eward, Travis Vermilye
The animation A Window into Life is an artistic collaboration between Travis Vermilye and Kenneth Eward. Kenneth acted as author and chief modeler, while Travis's role was that of modeler and animator. The original project was developed for Cincinnati's Children's Hospital Research Foundation and contracted through Kolar Design. It consisted of five 4-5 minute animations to be displayed as part of a sculptural wall on 42-inch plasma screens in the lobby of the new Research Foundation building with the intent of showcasing areas of research at the foundation. The animations were originally slow-paced and fluid to add a feeling of calmness to the piece.

In order to match the Challenge requirements, the animations were edited and timing increased with the music tempo to create a cohesive compilation. Travis and Kenneth used Maxon™ Cinema 4D® to create the 3D models and the animation segments. Compositing and effects were accomplished with Adobe® After Effects® and Adobe® Premier Pro®. The style of the animations was designed with the thought of changing environments and a feeling of immersion. Environments within each segment involved a color change (i.e. from blue to pink to dark purple to red). Special effects include depth of field and a subtle watery ripple to add to the illusion of immersion in a new world.

The works created by the AMI members recognized in the 2008 National Science Foundation (NSF) and Science's International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge exemplify the mission of the Challenge to celebrate the value of images in illuminating scientific and medical content for the public. Linda Nye's Zoom into the Bloodstream visually displays nano-scale making it accessible to the viewing public. Linda combines 3D computer art with the traditional illustration techniques or "artist's hand" maintaining a unique artistic style. Donny Bliss visualizes complex 3D structures creating a striking molecular atmosphere in 3D Imaging of Mammalian Cells with Ion-Abrasion Scanning Electron Microscopy. Travis Vermilye portrays complex scientific "worlds" in beautiful and seemingly epic interactions in A Window into Life.

For more information about the Challenge or the 2008 Challenge winners, please visit http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/scivis/index.jsp?id=win2008.