About James Provost

James Provost is a freelance technical illustrator & editorial illustrator and co-founder of Technical Illustrators.org. Say hello on Twitter @jamesprovost.

Apr 13

Featured Illustrator – Martin Woodward

Martin Woodward - Jet Engine Martin Woodward - Engine Martin Woodward - Water Turbine

Martin Woodward - Eye Martin Woodward - Vein Repair

Martin Woodward, also known as  tecmedi, is a British technical & medical illustrator. He has been producing illustrations for publishing, manufacturing & advertising clients for over 20 years. His portfolio features a broad range of subjects as well as tutorials and a quite sensible style & pricing guide.

Mar 13

ColliderScribe Illustrator Plugin

In Illustrator CS 4, Adobe added a bunch of features to Smart Guides that made them, well, dumb. Moving an object in even a simple drawing became a tug-of-war against seemingly random alignment guides and snapping points. Sure, these features could be adjusted or turned off, but the only way to get something approaching the legacy behaviour is to hold the Command/Ctrl key while dragging. And even if Smart Guides happen to snap to the desired object, switching to Outline mode (Cmd/Ctrl+Y) often reveals that the snapping wasn’t accurate.


Once again, Astute Graphics to the rescue. Their new ColliderScribe plugin for Adobe Illustrator makes snapping a snap. It enables precise snapping, consistent spacing and tangential alignment easy and painless. It’s a small, easy to learn, affordable but powerful addition to your toolset.

Astute Graphics is holding two webinars tomorrow, Wednesday, March 13 at 3:00PM and 5:00PM GMT (10:00am and 12:00PM EST) to demonstrate ColliderScribe and SubScribe. Only 25 spaces are available in each session, so reserve now:

10am EST GoToTraining session
12pm EST GoToTraining session

ColliderScribe by Astute Graphics (£10 / $15 US) or try it free for 14 days.

Full disclosure: As a beta tester, I received a complimentary copy of this plugin.

Feb 13

AOI Awards Adds Category for Technical Illustration

AOI Awards

The UK-based Association of Illustration has added a new category to their annual international illustration awards:

Research & Knowledge Communication
Illustration commissioned for the purpose of undertaking research and communicating knowledge. Illustration that is used as a research or investigative tool and that represents, explains or seeks to understand information or data.
Includes but is not limited to… natural history illustration, wildlife, scientific illustration, forensic imagery, architectural imagery, illustration supporting academic research (for example in archaeology, geology, paleontology, natural sciences, biological sciences), visual informatics, data-visualisation and graphic facilitation.

The description may be vague and wordy, but this is a big acknowledgement of information illustration. The rise of photography in mass media largely redefined the role of illustration to be something more abstract, emotive and symbolic, more in the world of fine art. This schism between Art and Science meant that for decades illustrators who depicted things from reality, subjects of non-fiction, couldn’t find recognition from the larger illustration community. The inclusion of information illustration in these awards is an acknowledgement of the importance, relevance and indeed the enjoyment of the work that we create.

This is also a great promotional opportunity. Your work will be judged by a panel of influential industry professionals, and if selected, it will be published in the 2013 awards catalogue, promoted online and exhibited in the AOI Awards show.

The deadline for entry is February 28, 2013. Thanks to Kathryn Chorney for the tip!

The AOI Awards

Feb 13

WidthScribe Illustrator Plugin

Astute Graphics has released another amazing plugin for Adobe Illustrator. WidthScribe adds a tremendous amount of ease and control over the Width Tool added in CS5.

WidthScribe consists of:

  • Width Brush Adjusts the width on existing strokes by brushing over them.
  • Width Gradient Applies width by clicking and dragging, much like the Gradient Tool for colors. Perfect for creating depth and perspective.
  • Width Selector Allows for marquee selection and group adjustment of any number of width points, including quick and easy tapering, smoothing and averaging of line widths.

…and that’s just scratching the surface. As with all their plugins, Astute Graphics allows for very granular control and customization, both through tool preferences and additional panels. For more information, check out all of the demo videos.

Until February 28 2013, existing customers can save £10 (about $15 US) on WidthScribe via Astute Graphics’ loyalty discount.

WidthScribe by Astute Graphics (£39 / $60 US) or try it for free for 14 days.

Full disclosure: As a beta tester, I received a complimentary copy of this plugin.

UPDATE: Astute Graphics has a full tutorial on How to Enhance a Technical Illustration with WidthScribe and Adobe Illustrator.

Jan 13

Jim Hatch for Volkswagen

Jim Hatch - VW Beetle Cutaway Illustration

Jim Hatch recently completed this great project for Volkswagen, featuring finely detailed and rendered cutaway illustrations of their entire vehicle lineup. After the break, he shares some insight on working on a project of this scale, some process work, and lots of beautiful final illustrations.

Continue reading →

Jan 13

National Infographic

National Infographic is a blog written by Juan Velasco, art director of the venerable National Geographic magazine.

Velasco writes in depth about the rigorous journalistic integrity, the painstaking attention to detail, and the high-level design thought that goes into producing visuals for such an esteemed publication. The graphics department spends months producing original research, consulting with experts and consultants, and digging through data to bring a story to the surface. The amount of resources at their disposal is amazing.

Far beyond geographic maps, the graphics department produces illustrations, infographics, animations, interactive modules, videos, 3d models, dioramas and photo essays on topics such as science, technology, history, culture and economics.

National Infographic. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

Aug 12

Who Stole My Pictures?

Reverse Image Searching with TinEye

I’ve mentioned TinEye in passing before, for protecting your images and your reputation online. TinEye is a reverse image search, meaning you upload or link to an image, and it finds all the places the same image appears online.

Using TinEye periodically on images in your online portfolio can help you find unauthorized usage of your images on other sites. The best course of action from there is up to your discretion—you could ask for a credit line and a link to your site, request they remove the image, demand payment, or file a DMCA Takedown.

But uploading or linking each image from your site to TinEye is tedious and time consuming. And TinEye’s database hasn’t indexed every image on the web (“only” 2.18 billion) which means it might not find all cases of infringement. For a more exhaustive search you’d have to repeat the process on Google Images, the Russian search engine Yandex and the Chinese search engine Baidu.

Instead, you can use browser plugins/extensions such as Who Stole My Pictures for Firefox and RevEye for Chrome to search all of these engines at once. Simply right click on the image and select Search All In Tabs (or something similar). A tab will open to each site showing the results.

Thanks to my pal Chad for the tip!

How do you protect your images online, and how do you deal with infringers? Let me know your opinions in the comments!

Jul 12

General Motors Media Portal

Corvette Cutaway Illustration by David Kimble

Corvette Cutaway Illustration by David Kimble © Copyright General Motors

Davvi wrote in to tell me about this somewhat hidden collection of technical illustrations and photography of the Chevy Volt. Very cool stuff, hopefully that link doesn’t disappear!

From there I found my way to GM’s excellent media portal which provides official content and high resolution images for news and editorial outlets. Digging around in the photo section yielded some awesome finds like the huge David Kimble airbrushed cutaway illustration above. Try searching for illustration, cutaway, and rendering, you’ll love what you find!

Know of any other manufacturers with public media portals? Let us know in the comments!

Apr 12

SubScribe Illustrator Plugin

Astute Graphics has done it again. In what seems like a quest to put all of Adobe Illustrator’s native tools to shame, they’ve released a new plugin suite called SubScribe. Included are tools for drawing circles based on 2 or 3 points, connecting and straightening lines, drawing arcs, rotating and orienting artwork and drawing tangents and perpendicular paths (as shown in the video above).

Time to reassign some hotkeys.

SubScribe is free to all Astute Graphics customers.

Apr 12

Assembly Illustration from Hell Redux


Assembly Illustration from Hell by Dave Correia

Dave Correia wanted a print of the Assembly Illustration from Hell to hang by his desk, but couldn’t find a source or a decent image. So he took it upon himself to redraw it and share with anyone that might one as well. Click above for a 17″ x 11″ print-ready copy.

Thanks, Dave. Happy Friday!