Journal cover: Brain Health

Client: University of Toronto Medical Journal.
Media: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator.
Audience: Biomedical researchers and students.

Format: Journal cover.

Objective: Design and render an editorial cover about "brain health" that would entice readers. I chose to place the brain within a succulent garden to evoke a sense of tranquility and hardiness as well as the mystique associated with brain science.

Completed in April, 2018.



Thumbnail sketches


I first made a few simple thumbnail proposals that portrayed the theme of "Brain Health" with different concepts. I agreed to move forward with the concept that the client was most interested in, which was the succulent garden (middle).

thumbnail sketches.png

Comprehensive / composited roughs


Once the concept was selected, I developed a more comprehensive design of the illustration, with placeholder text to show the client how it might look in the end. Following client feedback, I added more succulents around the brain.


I drew the brain and the plants on separate sheets of layout bond, so that the linework for the former could be preserved when I made changes to the latter. On the right, both scans are composited in Photoshop.

pencil sketches.png

Colour study & vector trace


Before beginning to render, I did a colour study of the comprehensive sketch in Photoshop to figure out colour combinations. When tracing significant shapes in Illustrator to make "selection" layers, I used the fills suggestive of the colours I was going to paint with later.

colour traces.png
Free Brain-0307.jpg

To help inform my colour choices, particularly bounce light/reflections, I used this open source brain model and composed a simple scene in Cinema 4D.

Full colour rendering


I exported my traced file into Photoshop to begin rendering. The painting workflow I used for this project mainly involved painting with tone within selected areas, and using the fills from the Illustrator layers to modify "Color" (left). As the painting progressed, colour was added in a more direct manner and adjustment layers were used for global tweaking. Graphic design was completed by the UTMJ team.