AUDIENCE  Anatomy and medical students
FORMAT  Digital drawing
MEDIA  Illustrator

The project brief called for the production a labelled black-and-white line drawing of a dissected foot, hand or head. The illustration was to be largely based on the observation of specimens from the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification’s collection at the University of Dundee. Both Thiel soft-fix and plastinated specimens, each displaying various degrees of dissection, were made available, offering the opportunity to study a wide range of anatomical structures.

I chose to draw a foot because of my initial interest in its biomechanics: its design combines load-bearing properties with complex motor and balancing skills. I initially worked on a series of quick pencil sketches to familiarise myself with the foot’s anatomy and explore possible viewpoints, finally settling on one that showed the foot ‘in action’. It demonstrates the relationship between the longer flexors as well other muscles of the leg and the intrinsic plantar structures of the foot, with a special focus on the ankle and calcaneous tendon area. It aims to suggest the structure of the foot’s longitudinal and transverse arches and their main muscular stabilizers.

The choice of a non-standard view for which there is little precedent in textbooks had the indirect effect of forcing me to engage more thoroughly with the studied specimen rather than relying on previous illustrations. The process was therefore particularly instructive thanks to the unique opportunity to draw directly from Thiel soft-fix cadavaers (in which the body’s tissue and organs retain near life-like properties in terms of form, flexibility and colour).

Anatomist Prof. Catherine Carr kindly reviewed the final piece to confirm its anatomical accuracy.