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Toronto Notes 2019

Cover Illustration

This illustration was created collaboratively with Nati Chen for the 2019 publication of Toronto Notes, a study reference for the Canadian MCCQE and USMLE Step II medical licensing exams. The theme of atherosclerosis provided by the client. Upon this basis, we conceptualized, laid out, and created an illustration depicting plaque rupture and subsequent thrombosis in an artherosclerotic artery.

Client: Toronto Notes

Audience: undergraduate medical students

Format: print (textbook)

Media: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop

Art DirectionToronto Notes 2019 Editors-in-Chief

Date: September 2018

Final artwork

Process work

Research & Conceptualization

Thumbnails of cover composition and layout options were created and then presented in thumbnail sketches for our clients' review and selection. A comprehensive sketch was drafted for the selected thumbnail. Drafting of the comprehensive sketch was guided by research on the pathogenesis of artherosclerosis and on the cellular components of blood.

Creation of 3D visual assets

Rough 3D models of blood components were created in ZBrush and Cinema 4D and used as reference for the comprehensive sketch and eventually the final render.

Some examples of original colour palettes

Colour palette selection

After the comprehensive sketch was completed, colour thumbnails were created for our clients' review and selection. High-key colour palettes were originally proposed; however, based on client feedback and preference, a more naturalistic colour direction was ultimately taken. A black background was included based on client preference as well. The selected colour palette and background were taken forward into the rendering stage to produce the final cover illustration.

Modified colour palettes based on client feedback


1. George, S. J., & Johnson, J. (Eds.). (2010). Atherosclerosis: Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms (1st ed.). Wiley-Blackwell.

2. Kessel, R. G., & Kardon, R. H. (1979). Tissues and Organs: Text Atlas of Scanning Electron Microscopy. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman & Co Ltd.

3. Krstic, R. V. (1991). Human Microscopic Anatomy: An Atlas for Students of Medicine and Biology. New York: Springer-Verlag.

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