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Human Brainstem, Ventral and Lateral Views



Completed on:

Tools used:

Prof. Dave Mazierski¹, Prof. Shelley Wall¹

Neuroanatomy students, medical students

Jan. 2017

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

This is a digital illustration depicting the neuroanatomical structure of a human brainstem. Initial sketches were studied from specimen at J.C. Grant's Museum, and cross-referenced with anatomy atlases. Final sketch was traced in Illustrator, and rendered in photoshop taking advantage of AI tracework. Final renders were placed in pre-determined layout template and labelled based on a style specification sheet.

¹Biomedical Communications, University of Toronto

Process Work

1. Rationale

This project was a technical illustration exercise on depicting complex neuroanatomy. I chose to illustrate the human brainstem in frontal and lateral views, as it has an unusually wide variance of depiction across numerous literature and neuroanatomical atlases.

2. Background Research and Study

In order to create a convincing depiction of the brainstem, existing literature (both in terms of photographic references and anatomical illustrations) was consulted in conjunction with sketch studies of formalin-preserved dissected brainstem specimens from JCB Grant's Museum. This combinatorial approach allowed for a comprehensive reconstruction of the brainstem.

Pernkopf 1963

3. Rendering

After a refined draft was created by pencil, the rendering process entailed vector tracing of the pencil linework in Illustrator, followed by digital airbrush painting in Photoshop.


Augur, A.M.R., and Dalley, A.F. 2017. Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy 14e. Page 710-711: Brainstem and Cerebellum. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Company.

Pernkopf, E. 1963. Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy - Vol. 1. Page 80: The Head. Philadelphia and London: W.B. Saunders Company.

Rohen, J.W., Yokochi, C., and Lutjen-Drecoll, E. 2011. Color Atlas of Anatomy 7e. Page 114-115: Brain – Brain Stem. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Company.

Vanderah, T.W., and Gould, D.J. 2016. Nolte’s The Human Brain: An Introduction to Its Functional Anatomy 7e. Page 275: Organization of the Brainstem. Philadelphia: Elsevier.