I’ve let this blog go quiet for a few months now, planning to get back to my weekly posts of new and old NYTimes Science Times illustrations…but it just hasn’t happened. Happily, we’re still doing the column. And, also happily, illustration in general is busy. But it’s just been too much to keep up with my regular work blog and my tumblr and Drawing Science, so I’m closing up shop, at least for now. I’ll be leaving the blog here, as an archive of the assignments, and maybe I’ll get back to it eventually. Thanks to everyone who checked out the posts each week, and to everyone who took a moment to comment.

100

 

The column this week was about how babies begin to anticipate their hands moving to their mouths in the womb. And to make it a little more challenging, unlike the usual 4″ width, word counts ran long and we had to work with 1.8″ wide. ¬†When coming up with ideas, you start out thinking – OK, what else is this like? But that didn’t really work here. It’s not really like anything. Here are the sketches:

TOUCH_SKETCHES

 

In such a small space, the idea had to be an instant read, and I had 1.8″ to get your attention, so the color and shapes needed to be bold and graphic. Here is the final:

TOUCH

 

Thanks for reading!

This was a stumper. I’m not making apologies…just saying. The column was about how sea sponges recycle nutrients in a coral reef ecosystem that are then consumed by snails or hermit crabs. Sooooo, here are the few ideas I managed to squeak out.

SPONGE_SKETCHES

 

Sometimes without the pressure of a deadline, the perfect solution will just pop into my head after the fact.

Still nothing.

Here is the final, which made a nice image even if the idea was just ok. Big thanks to Peter, as always.

SPONGE

Here are the sketches for this week’s Science Times column:

BONES_SKETCHES

 

The article was about injections of a protein that can restore normal bone growth in mice that exhibited characteristics of dwarfism. The problem is a single mutated receptor in the genetic code and scientists were able to promote proper growth by treating the mice with a decoy receptor. I tried a couple of things with the sketches, either fixing the bone at the genetic level, or the injections. Here is the final that ran yesterday:

BONES

 

Thanks for reading!

Almost all caught up posting these! Last week’s column was about the first discovery ever of a gear-like mechanism in nature. The tiny leaf-hopping insects have interlocking joints that propel their long jumps. Here are the sketches:

JUMP_SKETCHES

 

This was another example of a week where I got very little of the story initially, including not knowing the name of the insect. I wasn’t entirely sure from what I received from the AD if it was more about the mechanism specifically or how they jump great distances as a result. Happily one of my guess sketches worked, and here is the final:

GEARS

 

At the last minute, the Times was able to get a series of photos and a video, and even though I never like to see the illustration get 86ed, it’s definitely worth watching here.

For whatever reason, lately I am getting shorter and shorter summaries of the articles and it leads to a little guesswork with the sketches. The article was about how the genes on the Y chromosome are weaker and more sensitive to environmental factors. Since I had no idea what the environmental factors were, I used the X chromosome as a basis for the comparison. Here are the sketches:

SAND_SKETCHES

 

The AD and I both liked the sagging Y arm but he was concerned that we didn’t have enough depth to pull off the Y or we would have to crop too much of the head. So we decided to go with the parody of old Charles Atlas comic book ad:

SAND_3

Specifically the classic sand-kicked-in-your-face panel:

SAND_2

A symbol of male weakness throughout the ages, I tried to keep the feel of the original and just change a little to fit the story (the X chromosome is much stronger that the Y, although rarely pushes it around):

SAND_1

Thanks for reading!

 

I’ve missed a few weeks here since we moved so I’m going to try to catch up on recent illustrations and then get back to posting archive items. Speaking of moving, I did sketches for Science on the very night we moved in, and since my computer wasn’t even set up yet, I had to send a photo from my phone:

ATOMIC_SKETCHES

 

The story was about how the new atomic clocks are even more accurate than the old ones, by like a hundred millionth of a second or something. You have to admire that kind of commitment to accurate time-keeping. Here is the final:

ATOMIC

 

Another new post coming tomorrow!