Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spots before your eyes!™©®*

This spot leaves plenty of room for text "callouts,"
describing the tendon's special mechanics as the
talon closes.
*(I really should trademark this; it was the headline I used back in the day when I mailed postcards featuring my work to prospective clients. Nobody else get any ideas!)

I just finished these spot illustrations for a display that will go up at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, Calif. The display describes raptors (owls, hawks, falcons and other birds of prey), and the spots illustrate lightweight bird bones, plus something I didn't know before: How raptors hold said prey.

It turns out that as certain leg muscles pull the raptors' sharp talons closed, the tendon attached to the underside of the claw catches on the folds of a sheath around the tendon as it fold together like an accordion. The underside of that specialized talon has a jagged set of teeth that catch on the folds and holds the talon in place so that the birds don't have to contract their muscles constantly.

The roller coaster car is meant to show how
the "teeth" on the talon tendon and the tendon sheath
catch each other, in the same way that pins on the
car catch the teeth of the belt raising the car to
its eventual speedy descent. The client chose the
version without the riders.
The display also demonstrates a key factor in flight: Hollow bones. The bone structure is supported by a mad maze of bony struts in every direction within the bone. I wouldn't call it a honeycomb because that would imply order and uniformity. I'm curious, though, whether some order exists within the bone beyond my ability to see it.

I'll post the display when it's available.

It was another opportunity to work with Lisa Park-Steskal, who designed the new Old Sacramento signs for which I illustrated. (Also here and here.)

Lisa wanted a blueprint look but in a sketchy, loose style, as if the museum was jotting down relatable concepts to help visitors understand what was going on in a raptor's claws and bones.

Birds' bones are not solid, but shot through with tiny struts,
making them light for flight.

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