The Intriguing World of Medical Illustration: Understanding the Role and How to Join the Field

In the ever-evolving healthcare industry, one profession blends the creative and the scientific in a unique way: Medical Illustrators. They are the skilled artists whose accurate and detailed renderings can clarify complex medical concepts, aiding both patient comprehension and professional training.

Related Class: Drawing Anatomy: The Human Face with Medical Illustrator Tiffany S. DaVanzo

In this article, we dive into the world of medical illustration, discussing what a medical illustrator does and how you can embark on this exciting career path.

What Does a Medical Illustrator Do?

A medical illustrator is a professional artist with advanced training in both the arts and sciences, adept at visually interpreting and communicating medical or biological information. Their work is vital for healthcare professionals, educators, researchers, lawyers, pharmaceutical companies, and others who need precise visual representation of medical procedures, biological processes, or complex medical conditions.

Medical illustrators use a variety of techniques to create their works. These include traditional art techniques like drawing, painting, or sculpture, but increasingly, digital tools and software are being used to generate computer-aided designs or 3D models. Their work can be found in textbooks, scientific journals, health websites, patient education materials, courtrooms for medical legal cases, and even in digital applications such as virtual reality simulations for medical training.

Medical Illustrator Tiffany S. DaVanzo

Medical illustrator and Sktchy teacher Tiffany S. DaVanzo

How to Become a Medical Illustrator

To become a medical illustrator, a strong foundation in both arts and sciences is necessary. Prospective illustrators typically start with a bachelor's degree in arts, graphic design, or a science-related field. This should be followed by a Master’s degree from an accredited medical illustration graduate program. These specialized programs provide intensive instruction in medical sciences (anatomy, pathology, physiology, etc.) and advanced training in visualization techniques.

Certification is another important aspect of this career. The Board of Certification of Medical Illustrators (BCMI) provides a Certified Medical Illustrator (CMI) credential that verifies an individual’s competence and professionalism in the field, ensuring they abide by a high standard of ethical practices.

Getting practical experience is key in this field. Aspiring medical illustrators should aim to gain experience through internships or entry-level jobs. Creating a strong portfolio showcasing a diverse range of skills and techniques is essential for impressing potential employers or clients.


In conclusion, medical illustration is a unique profession that merges science and art, providing an invaluable service to the healthcare industry. Becoming a medical illustrator requires rigorous training in both art and science, but the result is a rewarding career where you can contribute significantly to medical education and communication. If you have an affinity for both art and science, a career as a medical illustrator may be the perfect path for you.

Related Class: Drawing Anatomy -The Human Face with Medical Illustrator Tiffany S. DaVanzo

Learn how to draw the human face from the inside out. Learn more.