Maya Shoemaker

Maya Shoemaker appendectomy illustration

It’s been a while since we’ve posted the work of an actual medical illustrator here on Street Anatomy, but when I saw this image in the current medical illustration Sourcebook, I was in complete awe.  Maya Shoemaker, a graduate of the UT Southwestern Biomedical Communications graduate program, is an award-winning illustrator who just started her own medical illustration business, Shoemaker Medical.  She has a very artistic aesthetic and an uncanny ability for photorealism.

I have the honor of working with Maya on a project and she’s been an extreme pleasure!  Take a look through her new site,

8 thoughts on “Maya Shoemaker”

  1. Wow this is really cool. I have been taking an anatomy class and studying on cadavers. I love it and I am now inspired to draw pictures that have to do with anatomy.

  2. Aw, thank you, Vanessa and kind comment-ers!

    Here is my technique on this one: First I went to an appendectomy and took a bunch of pictures. I used 2 or 3 photos for reference with one being my primary source, drew outlines of my composition in pencil, and scanned that into Photoshop.

    Then I tried to recreate the tissue using my little Wacom tablet and photoshop airbrushes. Paint paint paint. The reference was up on my screen next to my work. Sometimes I will shade the forms in grayscale first but I don’t think I did much of that here… I tried to grab luminous colors from the photos. I’d have something selected, like the appendix shape, and airbrush inside it for a while. Near the end I intensified my shadow layers and added more darks because I always start out too subtly no matter how bold I try to be. Then white/wet highlights and touching up annoying problem areas.

    Everything stays on separate layers while I work so that I can change my mind on something, shading for example, without messing with something else I love, like maybe a finished highlight.

    Qualities I needed, before making photorealism-ISH art: being a tedious nerd, having patience, and really focusing on seeing forms/lights/darks instead of what my brain thinks it should see.

  3. This is stunning, sooo jealous!

    I’d also like to know what she uses before she renders it in the computer!

  4. Absolutely stunning!

    What kind of medium is she generally using before it’s computerized?

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