Production, Circulation, and Drainage

Cerebrospinal Fluid:

This two-page textbook spread is the result of a collaborative effort of three students in the Biomedical Communications neuroanatomy course. For this group project, a pre-determined style guide and colour palette were followed, and a studio environment workflow was emulated, with each team member taking charge of a different stage of execution. My role was the conceptualization and design of the illustrations and layout and the composition of text. Illustrations were then vectorized by Jenny and rendered by Felix. The goal of this spread is to communicate key anatomical and physiological aspects of cerebrospinal fluid at molecular, tissue, and system scales.

Clients: Prof. Dave Mazierski, Prof. Shelley Wall

Audience: undergraduate students

Format: print (textbook)

Medium: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

Date: April 2018

Final artwork

Initial sketches were drafted based on multiple visual references, including neuroanatomical atlases and anatomical models. The circulation-drainage illustration began as a canonical midsagittal view of the brain; however, this visualization strategy did not adequately communicate the form of the ventricles and the space they occupy. In this case, oblique viewpoints more effectively depict space and form, so an anterolateral view was adopted in subsequent iterations. The second iteration contained only the left ventricular system; however, based on consultation with Profs. Mazierski and Wall, the right ventricular system was also included in the final sketch.


1. Agur, A. M. R., & Dalley, A. F. (2009). Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy (12th ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

2. Crossman, A. R., & Neary, D. (2015). Neuroanatomy: An Illustrated Colour Text (5th edition). Churchill Livingstone.

3. Fujii, T., Youssefzadeh, J., Novel, M., & Neman, J. (2016). Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Ventricular System and Choroid Plexus. In The Choroid Plexus and Cerebrospinal Fluid (pp. 1–13). Elsevier Inc.

4. Lun, M. P., Monuki, E. S., & Lehtinen, M. K. (2015). Development and functions of the choroid plexus-cerebrospinal fluid system. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(8), 445–457.

5. Nolte, J. (1993). The Human Brain: An Introduction to its Functional Anatomy (3rd ed.). St. Louis, Missouri: Mosby-Year Book, Inc.

6. Speake, T., Whitwell, C., Kajita, H., Majid, A., & Brown, P. D. (2001). Mechanisms of CSF secretion by the choroid plexus. Microscopy Research and Technique, 52(1), 49–59.<49::AID-JEMT7>3.0.CO;2-C

brain and ventricles composite_v1.png
brain and ventricles composite_v2.png
CSF circulation_v3_cleaned.png
CSF circulation & drainage
CSF production original sketch_corrected
CSF production alt original sketch_corre
CSF production_v3.png
CSF production

Several visualization strategies were considered for the depiction of CSF production at the molecular level. To show the osmotic and electrochemical gradients in play, I considered showing groups of individual ions and molecules, as well as using symbols to summarize information about groups of ions and molecules. For the final sketch, I opted to use symbols (gradient arrows) as they created minimal visual clutter.

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MSC2012Y-Assign2-Linear design_v3.jpg
MSC2012Y-2018-assign2_Phase3_Son_Felix D

Finally, several page layouts were considered, and multiple versions of text were drafted to accompany them. As this piece followed a pre-determined style sheet, the layout was restricted to one page. It has since been moved into a two-page spread, which provides the necessary space to distinguish important details in the circulation-drainage illustration (i.e. the meningeal layers).

Process work