Depth and immersion give static print images new digital life

Laura Maaske on creating captivating digital imagery.

This post is part of the TOC podcast series. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.

Today’s ebook landscape is mostly filled with nothing more than quick-and-dirty conversions of print to digital. There’s not a lot of imagination, and we’re certainly not taking full advantage of all the capabilities of our digital devices. This includes not only the text and how it’s presented, but also the images that accompany the text. We have an incredible opportunity to take those static images from print and bring them to life in digital format.

Laura Maaske, a medical illustrator I met earlier this year at TOC NY, is someone who understands this opportunity and is creating digital imagery like you’ve never seen before. I recently reconnected with her to discuss the move from print to digital and how publishers need to adjust their thinking.

Key points from the full video interview (below) include:

  • Imagery begins with a metaphor — Laura has used layering techniques so that users can easily explore the depths of the object, in this case, a human hand. It’s the first step toward a 3D rendering that lends itself to even more immersion. [Discussed at 1:58.]
  • It’s not just about medical imaging — Look at all the static images in your own products and consider the option of adding depth or immersion to them. The possibilities are endless and can be applied to pretty much any topic. [Discussed at 3:38.]
  • Is “digital first” the best approach? — Perhaps, but publishers should also consider how they might utilize their vast libraries of existing images that weren’t originally created with layering in mind. “Before” and “after” images are excellent candidates, for example. [Discussed at 4:32.]
  • New skills are required … including programming — The core illustration skills are critical, of course, but digital imaging professionals need to go further. Knowledge of HTML and even a good foundation in scripting or programming is very important as well. [Discussed at 7:12.]
  • Choose your tools wisely — Laura carefully chooses her tools by avoiding proprietary software and using license-free options. [Discussed at 8:10.]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.

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