3 Finished Pieces – Album Design, Music Video Animation & Merchandise Design

These are the three different outcomes of the SI project, and for Khaidian’s b(r)and identity so far.

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Double album covers by me
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The finished album cover for one album- design/typography by John
I’m really happy with how the cover looks. The typography that John chose fits the style perfectly, it looks like the annotated notes of a 19th century scientist.

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Mock up of what the digipak for the first album will look like. Inlay booklet designed by John, illustrations by me, CD face design by me.
I love the inlay booklet, and the way that John has used my illustrations. I’m glad that the same colour background was used for the inlays as the cover as it ties it together well. At first I would have thought that the red smoke would look odd and too bright, but when I saw it I thought it worked really well. The pop of colour is interesting. I’m also really glad that the kaleidoscope design is being used.
The Music Video for Dominion

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Illustrations by me, some filming of the actress by me, video editing, cg and all other work by John
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Makeup fx/costume design by me (with help from John and Natalia). Video editing, cg, and all other work by John.
I couldn’t be more pleased with how the music video turned out. I think John did an amazing job with the filming, editing and other special effects like the cloud tank. I was worried about my input – would the illustrations look right, would the costume design look professional enough, etc but I think John has really brought out the best in my work. I never imagined my illustration work could be used in this way, and it has inspired me to pursue animation perhaps in my own time. I’ve always loved fx makeup so was thrilled to be able to work on that. I feel this video allowed me to use all the skills I am best at and to push those a little harder than usual.
Khaidian merchandise

 

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Design/illustration by me, Khaidian logo by John.
The band decided to go with the anatomical man drawing, as the exploded skull still needs some more work before it’s right for the shirts. The band will be printing two shirts hopefully. If the skull design isn’t used for shirts, Khaidian will find another use for it. I am happy with this decision because I think that the anatomical man drawing works great for the shirt and I’m happy to see it being used in this way. I’m not entirely happy with the exploded spine on the back of the shirt, so I will redraw this. However for now, I’m using the current drawing to show roughly what the merchandise shirts will look like.
I’m extremely proud and satisfied of the way that John and I have worked together and combined our skills. I think that the three outcomes we have produced are very strong (although the merchandise is still a work in progress, I know that when the design is finished it will look great.) John was very easy to work with and I admire everything he does. We both have the same work ethic which made the collaborative process much easier. We also have very similar tastes and aesthetics, which I think is a good thing because it allowed us to create work we both like. However, we do both have slightly different influences and inspirations which I think you can see in the resulting final outcomes.
I’m very proud of this work, and I know that this is exactly the kind of work I want be doing in the future for other musicians and bands too.

Eschewing the genre/s

It was always important to me and to John and the rest of Khaidian to avoid some of the typical conventions of metal related visual imagery – in the sense of the sub-genre of Djent and also the wider umbrella of metal itself.
Djent album cover conventions:
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TesseracT – Altered States.

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TesseracT – One 

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Periphery – Periphery
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Periphery – Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal
  • Usually quite technical and modern looking
  • Minimalist
How Khaidian’s artwork is different:
  • There’s still an emphasis on technology but it’s old fashioned/Victorian science instead of the very modern look of Djent, combined with the natural world which is a little unusual for the Djent genre.
  • The drawings and illustrations are very detailed. They’re also created traditionally whereas most Djent artwork seems to be digital.
How Khaidian’s artwork is the same:
  • Use of digital software to make the album cover. The reason – most album covers are done digitally now and it was easier to compile it in this manner. It still retains most of it’s traditional/antique look with the textured/paper background and pencil drawings.
  • The artwork is quite minimal. The reason – to mimic the minimal layout of scientific illustrations. And also because the artwork needs to speak for itself and therefore doesn’t need too much going on around it.
Metal album cover conventions:
  • Very masculine
  • Dark colours, usually black, white, red.
How Khaidian’s artwork is different:
  • The artwork is actually a bit androgynous: the themes of anatomy have been used but in a very clean way as opposed to the usual gore and violence. The natural world is usually associated with femininity. So by using both the masculine “scientific” theme and the feminine “natural” imagery drawn in quite a delicate and precise way, you create work that appears to combine elements of both “genders.”
  • The colours are quite light. There’s not that much black used in the presentation.
How Khaidian’s artwork is the same:
  • Use of anatomy, bones, skulls, etc. The reason – it’s a theme that myself and the band members are interested in and it juxtaposed nicely with the nature imagery that we thought of first. Also, it is very popular in metal artwork to use bones, etc. Fans will know this is a metal record.
  • The imagery is quite dark in theme. It’s not exactly cheerful artwork! The reason – (see above)
  • The background is quite grungy/distressed looking. Lots of texture. The reason – to look antique and to look like the page of an old anatomy book. Also because a plain background would look a bit boring.
  • Use of the “blood” looking smoke. Ties in with the usual gory elements of metal artwork. The reason – it adds an interesting element to the layout. The red colour makes it pop and stand out.
Metal merchandise conventions
  • Use of skulls – usually normal looking skulls. Often some kind of violence inflicted upon them.
  • Sometimes the shirts can be quite busy
The usual skull imagery you see on some metal shirts. Personally, I think these are so overdone and cliche.
These two skulls are almost identical.
How Khaidian’s merchandise is different:
  • Use of a skull that is very unusual and not often depicted in that manner for metal artwork
  • The shirts are quite minimalist. This lets the artwork speak for itself and really shine.
How Khaidian’s artwork is the same:
  • A direct relation to the album art/music video art. The reason – Most bands do this to cement their identity. Fans will appreciate the link to the album as well. For example: the back of the shirt has an exploded spine just like the character in the video. This will make the fans feel like they’re a part of the band.
  • Used on a black t-shirt. The reason – the most popular type and colour of merchandise for a band. You won’t sell as many shirts on a white, grey or coloured background.
  • Use of the band’s logo in the central chest position – the most popular place for the band’s logo. The reason – this is the prime location for the logo. When you wear a hoodie partially zipped up, this is the only area of the chest that is usually exposed and the area your eye is drawn to first, so it makes sense to put the band’s name/logo here.
Music videos
  • Band feature in the video performing the music, or a man will be the primary character
  • Any women in the video are secondary characters and are harmful in some way to the band members, or used as sexual objects.



How Khaidian is the different:
  • Woman is the primary character and is not sexualised. She also doesn’t cause any harm to the male character – instead she tried to help him. The male character is secondary.
  • No shots of the band in the video and no lyrics are mouthed/sung by the characters.
  • Use of animation – is a little less common than usual.
How Khaidian is the same:
  • The imagery is quite dark and a little morbid in some places. The reason : because this interests the band members and also myself.
  • Some other bands are using animation and not featuring the band members for the same reason that Khaidian did – to be a bit different.
 Through these brief bullet points, I am trying to show that myself and John have considered how we can create very different visuals for Khaidian to what is normally seen in metal. However, Khaidian is still a metal band – we still have to adhere to some of the usual traditions of metal because we need to attract metal fans as well as trying to stand out. Bands that stray too far from the usual conventions of metal will be mistakenly assumed to not be metal, therefore potential fans that enjoy metal may not listen to Khaidian if their artwork doesn’t indicate them as a metal band. Be different, but not too different so you don’t completely alienate your target audience!

Reverse/Back of Shirts

For the back of the shirt, I wanted to create something related to the front. When I put the heart design on the back, I loved how it looked but it didn’t make sense as hearts would be on the front really. This made me think of having a spine on the back. However, I didn’t want a spine continuing all the way down, as I think this is quite cliche. I decided just to show a suggestion of a spine.
I had a play around with the idea of an exploded skull with the spinal chord turning into branches. Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 22.36.44
The sketch/idea for the exploded spine.
I used these images from online because unfortunately my Grey’s Anatomy was lacking a bit. Using these views of the spine I was able to have an understanding of what the separate components of the spine would look like.
I also tried to design a sagittal spine too but I felt that this wasn’t working. I could have cut it horizontally instead but this would have looked so similar to the exploded skull. The exploded one is much stronger design, so it didn’t make much sense to design something less interesting than what I’ve already done.

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The finished drawing. I also used this for the back of actress for the animation too. I thought it would be a good link/connection from the music video to the fans. Metal fans enjoy feeling a part of something, little details like that make a big difference.

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I sent these designs to the band to choose which back they like best for the shirt. The other two designs are inlay illustrations. I thought I’d give the band the option of a few different spine ideas. They chose the top one, which I think was a good idea for the reasons I listed above.

Skull Merchandise Design – More Work

Inspired by some of the exploded/sagittal skulls I’ve been researching, I came up with a few ideas for composition/styles of the skull. I wanted to have a skull arranged in an usual way – either sliced or exploded – and then have veins/branches growing up/along the skull. This ties in with the anatomical theme of the album and the 18th century/victorian theme, as well as tying in the branches and roots of the logo and the other artwork.

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To get started on the design, I started playing around with the reference images I took of the 4d skull model.
Using some internet images I quickly tested this idea out, trying out a few sagittal cut skulls. The 4d photos will be better because these aren’t accurate as you can’t see where the rest of the skull would show in the different sections.

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Half cut skull, using two photos of the model photoshopped together.

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Trying to recreate a sagittal skull/booked skull using photos of the skull taken at different angles, trying to show the inside of the skull in some places.
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Trying to combine the images of the skull from every angle, having to resize a bit so they line up properly. I did a quick sketch of this because the collaged photos make it quite hard to see what’s going on. I’m not sure of this design, because it’s a bit confusing and it didn’t work as well as I hoped. I wanted to show a skull turning.Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 22.07.28Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 22.07.33Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 22.07.38Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 22.07.48
Some sagittal style cuts on part of the skull. I think the idea is interesting but it would need more work.

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A sagittal cut skull with parts of the inside showing – to make it more realistic and 3d.

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Conjoined, exploded skull inspired by some of the skulls I saw in the museums. I photoshopped the skulls together at different angles, then split the skull where the suture lines (where the different plates of the skull connect) are. I used the model to turn the skull in angles where I could see what it would look like in 4d. This made the drawing a lot more accurate and detailed.
Some of the ideas were quite interesting but needed a lot of work and playing around with. I thought that the work was becoming a bit too abstract, so I decided to go back and try out some simpler ideas. I think if a skull – a very recognizable shape – is abstracted too much, the audience might not be able to relate to the image anymore. Especially as with metal there are certain conventions you still have to follow.

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I did these two quick sketches of an exploded and a sagittal skull. They’re still pretty unusual as images. 12243812_10153334982489087_1601792870_n12270030_10153334981964087_1910323979_n12272827_10153334982484087_1473298314_n
Inspired by Gunther Von Hagen’s skulls with plasticized veins on them, I turned these veins into branches. The branches looked odd directly on the skull itself like veins, so I decided to make the branches poke between the segments of the skull.

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I also changed the proportions of the sagittal skull, as the thin, long shape fits on the shirt better.

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Two mock ups of what the shirts will look like with both images, as well as how the Khaidian logo will flow with the design. I’ve decided to re-draw the Khaidian logo’s branches. I have a version of the logo without the branches so I can create ones growing up (the logo’s branches grow down, the two directions look odd) that flow with the branches growing up and out of the skulls.
After submitting both images to Khaidian, they wanted the sagittal cut skull. I was happy with both designs as I think both worked eqaully well.

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The sketch of the skull.

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The work in progress.

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The finished drawing!Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 22.25.58
In photoshop I edited the image slightly, using a black brush set at a low opacity on the “darken” settings. I wanted to have a bit more contrast between the insides of the skull and the lighter sections, as I think the drawing was becoming a bit confusing without that contrast. Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 22.26.32
Edited photo – threshold. To turn the drawing into black pixels only so that it’s suitable for screenprinting.

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The finished design – inverted so that it all matches. I redrew some branches and photoshopped them on to the branches at the top of the skull. Because they’re solid white, they blend in with the logo.

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I started playing around with the design a bit more, seeing how the skull would look if it wasn’t inverted on a dark background. I thought that the inverted skull lost some of the detail and looked a bit strange. However, the logo and branches need to be white the stand out against the black background. When a white outline is added, it looks really strange (I tried this previously with one of the inlay drawings of the anatomical man.)
I think it looks strange where it’s cut off where the black and white branches meet.
I had a think, and thought about introducing some kind of colour. I originally didn’t want to do this, but I couldn’t think of another way that the branches would show up on both a white and black background. I tried subtle, muted colours – a dark red and a mid grey.  If the band don’t want colour we can always use grey which shows up quite well.

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I also tried the shirt design out on a mid grey t-shirt – I really like this but it looks more “fashion” based, less metal and I don’t think it would be a popular shirt. Black is still the most popular colour for metal t-shirts.
Although I really love this skull design, it still needs a lot of work. I would like to continue working on this idea and how it can work for black clothing. Thankfully, after the deadline for this project, Khaidian and I will still be working together, so I will be able to finish this design to the standards I want it at.

Skull Model Photoshoot

I discovered a skull model for sale on Amazon of a 4D exploded skull. I decided to purchase it because it would be a great model for the drawings and designs for this project, as well as any future projects too. Being able to have a physical model means that my drawings would be so much stronger because they’d be more accurate as I’d be able to see the subject from every single angle, including inside.
The model has quite a few parts which lock back in together.
To take some reference photos that I could digitally manipulate and work with, I set up a quick photobooth with white backgrounds and a few lamps. It was a bit of an amateur but at least it worked fine for what I wanted!

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I taped some guides down onto the surface. Later in the shoot, I used taut masking tape to hold the skull upright. Again, not very professional but it didn’t matter as these are just for my own reference.
I took these photos, removing a piece each time to achieve a side view of the skull. I would use this to build up a sketch of a vertical sagittal cut skull viewed from the side, as in some of the research examples I found.
Using the tape marker, I turned the skull in different angles and stripped back the pieces each time. This provides me with a complete 180 view of the skull and what each section looks like with different cuts. This will make a great resource for my sketches and studies, as well as being able to physically look at the model for a reference too. I think being able to have my own model for this is a good idea as it is always better to use your own references if you can, and preferably not just photos as that’s quite limiting.

 

Skulls – Research for Merchandise

As mentioned previously, I wanted to create a skull design for the merchandise for the band. Unsatisfied with the way that most skulls are represented in metal artwork and art in general, I did a bit of research into unusual aesthetics of skulls.
Leonardo Da Vinci
I always like to start my research way back into history to study the origins of a concept. I remembered that Leonardo Da Vinci did anatomical illustrations way before most people.
Leonardo da Vinci worked for 25 years on a complete guide to the human form that would have transformed the study of anatomy in Europe. But the project was never finished and the notes were all but lost for centuries after his death.
Leonardo created the outline for his book as early as 1489, but his progress was hampered by lack of access to anatomical material—in other words, corpses. Existing books and the dissection of monkeys, cows, dogs, and the occasional human skull could only teach so much. By about 1507, however, he was gaining fame as an anatomist; bodies, primarily of executed criminals, began to flow, likely due to his partnership with anatomist Marcantonio della Torre of the University of Pavia medical school.
Leonardo dug in, creating the first exploded views of structures such as the foot, hand, shoulder, and spine.” (source: Getty Images Blog)
Leonardo’s desire to be ‘true to nature’ in his painting led him to research the appearance of the physical world in all its aspects, including the principal subject-matter of the Renaissance – the human body. Through his anatomical studies Leonardo tested contemporary theories of ideal proportion and sought greater knowledge of human life – conception and growth, the senses, memory and fantasy, even the soul itself.  Working in hospitals and medical schools, he undertook dissections to investigate the bones, muscles, vessels and organs.  His skill at dissection, his insights as an architect and engineer, and his astonishing artistic ability enabled him to portray three-dimensional structure with unparalleled clarity.
Many of Leonardo’s earliest anatomical drawings were based on the received wisdom of medieval treatises, and, as human material for dissection was hard to come by, he had to work on the bodies of animals.  One of Leonardo’s most impressive early studies is of a dissected foot of a bear (c.1485-8), the only large quadruped that walks on the soles of its feet.  Another early drawing (c.1488-90), at first glance showing the nerve pathways in the arm of a man, seems to have been based on dissections of monkeys and dogs.
In 1489 Leonardo produced a series of exquisitely detailed studies of a human skull. In one drawing, he has sliced the skull vertically and the right half frontally, juxtaposing the two pieces to capture the position of the facial cavities in relation to the skull’s surface features.  Leonardo’s concern with proportion reflects the Renaissance preoccupation with the ideal human body as an expression of universal harmony.” (source: Royal Collection)
In particular, I was fascinated by the exploded and sagittal views of the skulls that he depicted, and also some of the exploded machinery images as well.
Exploded/Working/Assembly drawings
An assembly drawing is needed for all products or inventions that have more than one part. These drawings list all parts and sub-assemblies that make the final product. A BOM (Bill of Materials) on the drawing lists each part number, part name, and part quantity.
Some of these drawings provide instructions on how to assemble the product at amanufacturing level, while others may list part numbers for consumers to re-order parts. Instructions may include information such as how to fasten parts together, or what types of lubricant to use.” (source: My Product Engineer)
The drawings that are used to give information for the manufacture or construction of a machine are called as working drawings.Working drawings must include all the knowledge for the production of a machine or structure explicitly so that no further information is required to complete the production.” (source: M.E.T.U)
Exploded drawings are mainly used for engineering purposes, but Da Vinci also used them for anatomy as well, combining and juxtaposing the mechanical looking diagrams with the natural body.
Sagittal drawings
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“The sagittal or lateral plane dives the body into left and right halves and is an x-z plane. Technically, the sagittal or median plane goes right through the middle between the body’s left and right halves. Planes parallel the sagittal planes are called parasagittal planes. It is called the sagittal plane because it goes through or is parallel to the sagittal suture, the line running along the top of the skull that marks where the left and right halves of the skull grew together.
The coronal or frontal planes divide the body into front and back (also called dorsal and ventral or posterior and anterior) sections and are x-y planes.
The transvers planes, also known as the axial or horizontal planes, are parallel to the ground and divide the body into top and bottom parts. The top and bottom sections also called the superior and inferior section s or the cranial (head) and caudal (tial) sections). They are x-z planes.” (source: Machine Design)
Sagittal cuts are interesting, because they show the layers that make up anatomy. It’s a really unconventional view because it’s not normally how the body is viewed, a bit like exploded diagrams.
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Anatomical Preparations, Milton Hildebrand.
 How to prepare bones for sagittal sectioning and why it would be interesting to do so.
Beauchene Skulls 
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(Source: Cult of Weird, piece by Ryan Matthew Cohn)
“A Beauchene Skull, also known as an exploded skull, is a disarticulated human skull that has been painstakingly reassembled on a stand with jointed, movable supports that allows for the moving and studying of the skull as a whole or each piece individually.
In the mid-1800s French anatomist Claude Beauchene developed this method to display the anatomy of the head.” (source: Cult of Weird)
In my research however, I found that Claude Beauchene is always wrongly named as the pioneer of this technique.
“For years, the exploded skull technique has been widely misattributed to one Claude Beauchêne, an imaginary anatomist in Paris in the 1850s. Alternatively, it has been misattributed to the famed psychologist and physician Edmé Pierre Chauvot de Beauchêne, who lived between 1749 and 1825. But in 2011, researchers from the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Neurologic Surgerydiscovered that the widely known preparation technique takes its eponym not from either of these figures, but Edmé Francois Chauvot de Beauchêne, the largely overshadowed son of Edmé Pierre.” (source: io9)
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I’m also fascinated with the process of exploding skulls too.
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Anatomical Preparations, Milton Hildebrand.
Some directions for creating an exploded skull. Sometimes the method is just as interesting as the end result.
Ryan Matthew Cohns
I discovered that there is a modern day artist who created sagittal and beauchene skulls with custom metal fixtures.
“As a teenager, a girl I was dating gave me a human skull. She couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate gift. Up to this point, I’d handled just about every variety of animal skull short of an elephant, but this was the first homosapien cranium I’d seen up close. I was intrigued, fascinated, and awe-inspired. Intoxicated. This wasn’t just some half-eaten dog skull, this belonged to an actual person. As the weeks passed, I poured over the anatomical works of Leonardo DaVinci. I was absolutely compelled to examine every aspect of what made up the human cranium. Every different component, detail, and complexity that form this wondrous structure took my breath away. Through my research, I was led to the discovery of 18th century French Anatomist Claude Beauchene’s “exploded” skulls. This kicked my interest to another level entirely. Here I’d found the perfect merger of art and anatomy. From then on, I was determined to revive this lost art form. Relying on techniques gleaned from years of experience as a custom jeweler, each piece of metal is painstakingly cut, formed, and manipulated to perfectly match each section of the individual skull. I take great pride in making sure that each piece of osteological work I produce is uniquely one of a kind.” (source: Ryan Matthew Cohn)
Cohn’s work makes use of the same techniques utilised in the 18th-19th century. It’s archaic in it’s aesthetic, in keeping with traditional scientific methods.  His work provides a good reference for my drawings, although I would also like to be able to use my own references too.
Cohn’s tumblr which can be viewed here has many fantastic reference photos and images of different ways of displaying Beauchene and sagittal cut skulls and anatomy.
Gunther Von Hagens
Another modern artist utilising ancient methods of anatomical display and study is Polish born Gunther von Hagens.
“Anatomist, inventor of Plastination, and creator of BODY WORLDS—The Original Exhibitions of Real Human Bodies—von Hagens (christened Gunther Gerhard Liebchen) was born in 1945, in Alt-Skalden, Posen (in today’s Poland).
In 1975, while serving as a resident and lecturer-the start of an eighteen year career at the university’s Institute of Pathology and Anatomy-von Hagens invented Plastination, his groundbreaking technology for preserving anatomical specimens with the use of reactive polymers. “I was looking at a collection of specimens embedded in plastic. It was the most advanced preservation technique then, where the specimens rested deep inside a transparent plastic block. I wondered why the plastic was poured and then cured around the specimens rather than pushed into the cells, which would stabilize the specimens from within and literally allow you to grasp it.
He patented the method and over the next six years, von Hagens spent all his energies refining his invention. In Plastination, the first step is to halt decomposition. “The deceased body is embalmed with a formalin injection to the arteries, while smaller specimens are immersed in formalin. After dissection, all bodily fluids and soluble fat in the specimens are then extracted and replaced through vacuum-forced impregnation with reactive resins and elastomers such as silicon rubber and epoxy,” he says. After posing of the specimens for optimal teaching value, they are cured with light, heat, or certain gases. The resulting specimens or plastinates assume rigidity and permanence. “I am still developing my invention further, even today, as it is not yet perfect,” he says.” (source: Bodyworlds)
Early this year in February I visited the Bodyworlds: The Happiness Project exhibition whilst on holiday in Amsterdam.
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(Photo of me taken by a sneaky friend, as photography was banned)
What stood out to me the most was the delicate plastination of veins and also the sashimi-esque slicing of the bodies. I found some examples online of the kind of work by Von Hagens at the exhibition.
Museums
The Horniman Museum and Gardens
“We’ve been open since Victorian times, when Frederick John Horniman first opened his house and extraordinary collection of objects to visitors. Since then, our collection has grown tenfold and includes internationally important collections of anthropology and musical instruments, as well as an acclaimed aquarium and natural history collection.” (source: Horniman.ac.uk)
The Horniman Museum and Gardens is not too far from where I live in Kent. I’ve visited there about 2 or 3 times now, but it never gets old. Unfortunately, the photos I took on my visits are on an old laptop which is now broken, so I will refer to the photos from the museum’s online archive.
In particular, I’ve always been attracted to these half skeleton, half taxidermy animal specimens. These were made by German Natural History dealers Schlüter of Halle and taxidermy company Gerrard’s of London. My favourite, is a large bat half skeleton, half taxidermy. It was used on a TFL poster!
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The Hunterian Museum
“The Hunterian Museum boasts unrivalled collections of human and non-human anatomical and pathological specimens, models, instruments, painting and sculptures that reveal the art and science of surgery from the 17th century to the present day.” (source: RCSENG.ac.uk)
The Hunterian is another “no photos” museum. I visited here once in first year and again this year when a friend visited London. They don’t actually have any exploded skull specimens on public display, but they do have one in their archive.
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(from the museum’s online archive)
The Grant Museum of Zoology
“The Grant Museum of Zoology is the only remaining university zoological museum in London. It houses around 68,000 specimens, covering the whole Animal Kingdom. Founded in 1828 as a teaching collection, the Museum is packed full of skeletons, mounted animals and specimens preserved in fluid. Many of the species are now endangered or extinct including the Tasmanian Tiger or Thylacine, the Quagga, and the Dodo.” (source: UCL.ac.uk)
The Grant Museum of Zoology is home to animal specimens as well as a few different human ones. When visiting the museum, I found this exploded human skull.
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The online catalogue also has some animal examples of exploded skulls which is even more unusual than human specimens. They have a different technique for displaying them, and the mechanism of the metal moving parts is different to the way Ryan Matthew Cohn has engineered his.
(source: Grant Museum online catalogue)
The Paris Catacombs
“The Catacombs, which form a veritable labyrinth beneath the very heart of Paris, were created in the galleries of the former quarries whose stone was used to build the capital. Situated twenty metres below ground, the ossuary contains the remains of approximately six million Parisians, transferred there gradually between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries as graveyards were being closed because of the risk they posed to public health. The first of these was the cimetière des Innocents graveyard in 1786 in what is now the district of Les Halle.
In the long maze of dark galleries and narrow passages, visitors can see a tableau of death with bones arranged in a macabre display of high Romantic taste. The alexandrine verse “Arrête, c’est ici l’empire de la mort” [Halt, this is the realm of Death ] above the entrance to the ossuary is just one of an extensive series of maxims, poems and other sacred and profane passages giving pause for thought during the tour. This unusual site movingly brings the history of the Parisian people back to life and takes visitors on a timeless journey.” (source: catacombs.paris.fr)
Last year I visited the Catacombs in Paris, after I had been meaning to for some time. I love the way that a lot of ossuaries are laid out, with the skulls forming intricate patterns. The Paris Catacombs is more impressive in terms of the amount of skulls and bones on display as well as how big it is underground, whereas other ossuaries such as the Sedlec in Prague and the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in Rome feature much more creative and extraordinary displays.
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Musee De l’Histoire De Paris
“Situated in the historical Marais district, the Musée Carnavalet is dedicated to the history of Paris from its origins to present day. Opened in 1880, the current museum occupies two mansions from the 16th and 17th centuries. In this remarkable architectural setting, you can discover the rich collections of the museum: medieval and Gallo-Roman archeological collection, mementos of the French Revolution, paintings, sculptures, furniture and items of art. The collections are presented in rooms which reconstruct the atmosphere of 14th and 15th century private residences. One of the highlights of the visit is the Orangery, which was entirely restored in 2000. Major exhibitions are regularly organized here.” (source: ParisInfo.com)
I also visited Paris’ Natural History Museum during the same trip where I visited the Catacombs. There were no exploded skulls, however there were lots of sagittal cut skulls (vertically down the middle only) and a few conjoined skulls too, which are also interesting and a bit different in how they look. I might look into designs featuring conjoined skulls too, but my main focus is really on sagittal and exploded ones.
Other Sources 
I also found an oddities and antiques specialist online, called The Radio Guy. They have a number of different specimens on their website. A lot of exploded skulls, and some sagittal skulls styled in a way that I haven’t found elsewhere on the internet.
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All of this research into skulls, the techniques of displaying specimens and the different aesthetics of the mechanism have been important for inspiration and references for my own skull designs. I will refer back to this research during the designing process as much as I can.

Skull T-shirt Design

As mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to create another merchandise design with a different design on it, as well as using one of the inlay illustrations.
I wanted to continue using the anatomical/branch theme because it would be good to keep a recurring motif that becomes a part of the band’s identity. It’s quite a good motif because there’s so many different designs and ideas I could come up with based on those two simple ideas.

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The first idea I came up with was this rib cage design, meant to sit roughly where the wearer’s own anatomy would be. However, I’ve seen this kind of idea and placement used a lot, although not with branches. I feel it was too cliche and I wanted to do something a bit different. I don’t think this design would stand out particularly.

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The second idea I had was to create some kind of skull t shirt design. I draw skulls a lot so every time I draw a skull again, I now make sure it’s in a different or unusual way. Skulls are so cliche in metal as well as in art in general, so I’m always looking for new ways to portray them. The veins on the skull are inspired by the work of Gunther Von Hagens and some other research I’ve done of skulls – I will have a blog post detailing this research directly after this post.

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A quick mock up of a possible shirt design. The roots of the Khaidian logo could weave/interject the roots from the skull drawing. I want the skull to fill up most of the shirt, so I think a portrait size is best to make the most of the space.