BioTech illustration

This is an illustration I did for the NLB Science Fiction “Biotechnology” Genre Guide (2006).
biotech SciFi 400x400

The picture shows a human hand juxtaposed with a cybernetic one. There’s a DNA double helix strand on the side of the human-hand, while the series of computer zeros and ones are on the side of the machine-hand.

How it was done
We needed illustrations for the genre guides. No time to commission an illustrator, so I volunteered. My Colleague suggested that the illustration could be based on the following:

“BioTech Science Fiction – cloning, genetic engineering, Aeon-Flux stuff etc…Usu. with enmasse specimen laboratories, or really complex-looking machinery…Or eye candies with some form of marked defect.”

That gave me some rough idea to work with. I remembered I had these pieces done years ago — a sketch of my left hand and a cybernetic hand:
1990 Sketch - Left Hand Cybernetic Hand (Sept 1990)

In brief: After cropping the separate images, I adjusted their placement on a new canvas (I used Photoshop Elements). Then added the background colour, played with the eraser tool with different opacity settings to give the background a washed look (there are 2 background layers). Then added the Zeros and Ones, and the DNA strand.

Photoshop Layers
Layer #1 — a series of Zeros and Ones. It’s done as a text (‘System’ font, size 22). Got the idea partly from “The Matrix” where the zeros and ones pixelised to become images.

Layer #2 — the sketched hand, cropped from the “1990 Sketch – Hand and Figures” (see this post). Used the lasso tool to crop over the image and then used Eraser tool (with different brush & Opacity settings) to wash out the unwanted spaces. Colour/ Lighting adjustment was done to give the pencil lines a more rusty look, like something out of Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings — to show something really old, as opposed to the futuristic cyberhand.

Layer #3 — a cropped image of a DNA strand (from It’s a composite of two copies of the same image and merged-down (bec. one single image wasn’t long enough, or got distorted when stretched). Colour adjustments done to give it a bluer tone. Layer was set at 50% Opacity to blend into the background.

Layer #4 — cropped image from the “1990 (Sept) Cybernetic Hand“.

Layer #5 — a layer to paint the cybernetic hand. Highlights and shadows are painted onto the same layer.

Layer #6 — background layer for that chalky/ washed look for the side of the hand. It was one of the first layer I started off as a doodle. I liked how it blended nicely with the look of the sketched hand, I left it there.

Layer #7 — added as a background layer to paint the shadows and give more depth to the cybernetic hand and the zeros and ones.

Layer #8 — Plain white background. Kept it so that I can duplicate blank white-filled backgrounds as required.


One thought on “BioTech illustration

  1. Pingback: Sketches of my left hand (1990) « My Right Brain

Comments are closed.