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Brain Health Journal

Biomedical Illustration, Editorial

Journal cover: Brain health


University of Toronto Medical Journal




Photoshop, Illustrator.


Journal cover



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.


Target audience

Medical students, researchers.



​1. Concept sketches

I first made a few simple thumbnail proposals that portrayed the theme of "Brain Health" with different concepts. We agreed that the concept in the middle, which was the succulent garden, was the most interesting.


2. 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. We decided to add more succulents around the brain.

The brain and the plants were drawn 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.


3. Colour study & vector trace

Before beginning to render, I did a colour study of the comprehensive sketch in Photoshop to figure out colour combinations. The colour design was further explored when vectorizing the sketch in Illustrator as preparation for rendering.

Pencil sketch with colour applied in Photoshop (left) to vector trace in Illustrator (right).

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.


4. Rendering

To begin rendering, I imported the vector trace file into Photoshop. For this project's workflow, I started by painting in tone only, with the vector trace shapes on top set to the 'Color' layer effect. Later on, I painted colour details on a separate layer and applied global changes with adjustment layers.

Rendering process image

Graphic design / layout of the final cover was completed by the UTMJ team.

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