How does chronic acid reflux progress to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and potentially lead to cancer?
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The Pathology of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Adobe Photoshop | Adobe Illustrator
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Research

Extensive research was done to better understand the causes of GERD and its progression. Pathology textbooks and many histology slides were consulted to ensure accurate represenation of the pathology

Tissue Study

Before a comprehensive sketch could be developed, a tissue preparatory study was conducted. This time was used to practise drawing the key features of esophageal tissue, and to study how these features  change with disease progression.  

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Composition & Layout

The main visual goals for the final composition were three. First, it had to be very clear where in the body this disease occurs. Secondly, GERD had to be shown "in action" i.e. the movement of gastric acid entering the esophagus. Finally, the space for the tissue cubes needed to be maximized to enable clear comparisons of the morphological tissue changes over time. As a result, sketches were made iteratively to find the best layout to achieve these visual goals.  

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Colour Studies & Rendering

Once the client approved the accuracy of the information, experimentation with colour could begin. At first, histological stain colours were attempted to represent the microscopic elements of the illustration. However, the purple/pink colour palate did not match the skin-tone colours of the other graphical elements. As a result, earthy colours were used for the entire illustration, which better emphasized and differentiated between key elements. 

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Problem Solving

Because of the specific visual goals for this illustration, finding the best layout was a challenge. Initially, the stomach was on the right, and the tissue cubes on the left which did not work well. After some consulting, simply switching these around achieved all of the visual goals, and improved the reading flow of the illustration.