Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Henry Vandyke Carter is a much-overlooked illustrator that has contributed much to the worlds of medicine and illustration. He was active from 1853 to 1888. The later years were consumed by his work on Gray’s Anatomy. Interestingly enough H.V. Carter was not even an Illustrator by trade. He was a reasonably skilled surgeon. And upon completion of his illustrations and his retirement he was honored with the title of “Honorary Surgeon to the Queen”. To many he is the grandfather of Medical Illustration; perhaps only da Vinci has the potential to take this title away from Carter.

H.V. Carter had a unique drawing technique often using simple techniques to show parts of the body. In Plate 50. (Base of Skull) he happens to use lines to denote shading and depth. However, notice how he uses only vertical and diagonal lines to achieve this. He does this so that when he draws the horizontal lines to identify areas the lines are crisp and distinguishable. This allows his line work to be modestly complicated yet not be overpowered by the denotation of physical aspects.


  1. This is very impressive. Medical Illustration is difficult and takes a lot of patience. He does have great line work and his technique is amazing. He has a great eye for rendering.

  2. This stops and makes me recognize the level of skill and patience medical illustrators show when they work. A lot of the times I over look medical illustrators (mainly because its something I don't want to do), but I'm glad this post is up because it means someone appreciates medical illustrations and illustrators.