Taxonomic illustration in the digital age

Rudi Schnitzler *1

1 Plant Health and Environment Laboratory, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, PO Box 2095, Auckland

Insects are the most diverse group of organisms on earth with almost 1 million described species. They come in a remarkable array of sizes, colors, shapes, and textures. Taxonomists use the complexity of insect morphology not only as the primary means of identification, but also for inferring evolutionary relationships. Accurate illustration of characters is critically important in describing insect diversity, especially for new species that are regularly being discovered. Equally important are high quality illustrations that are fit for publication. This presentation will cover computer-assisted techniques of scientific illustrations using Adobe Illustrator® and Adobe Photoshop® for the production of high resolution character drawings.  A brief introduction of techniques for the preparation of full characteristic colour illustrations of insects will also be given. While the focus of this presentation will be on taxonomic illustration of insects the methods described in the presentation are equally transferable to other organisms.

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