Our book LOOK INSIDE featured in Fast Company’s Co.Design

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CO.DESIGN is great website about the intersection of business and design created by the team of FastCompany  magazine. They just published a nice review of our book Look Inside, by Meg Miller, including some nice samples. You can read it here.


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Our new book about cutaways, LOOK INSIDE: Cutaway Illustrations and Visual Storytelling is a showcase of the best, most beautiful and fascinating cutaway illustrations ever created, from historical times to now. Cutaways, exploded views, and cross sections, are explored across a wide range of applications and disciplines. Architectural renderings, anatomical illustrations, machine diagrams, and even fantasy illustrations are just a few of the various subjects presents in this compilation.

LOOK INSIDE is published worldwide by Gestalten and can be ordered in Amazon, at the Gestalten online store or wherever books are sold.

The 800-year-old Cutaway Graphics of Ismail Al-Jazari

Al-Jazari2.jpgAl-Jazari’s automaton musical band

In the introduction to LOOK INSIDE we mention the mechanical engineer, artist, inventor, mathematician, artisan and scholar Ismail Al-Jazari (1136-1206) as the first person in history to make extensive use of cutaways with the clear intention of revealing how something works. In the book we mentioned him briefly, and did not have the chance to show any of his illustrations. We will do so here.

Badīʿ az-Zaman Abū l-ʿIzz Ismāʿīl ibn ar-Razāz al-Jazarī (Ismail Al-Jazari for short) lived in what is today Turkey. Very little is known about his life beyond the fact that he belonged to a family of artisans and engineers, and that he served as the chief engineer for the local ruler, just as his father did before him. His fame rests mostly in a book he wrote and illustrated in 1206 titled “Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices”. In this book Al-Jazari describes many machines, often of his own invention, with instructions on how to built them. More than an engineer in the modern sense he was a mechanical artisan that assembled his machines by trial and error, rather than by mathematical calculation.

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Hydropowered perpetual flute

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Mechanical peacock fountain

The machines described in his books include several automata, such as drink-serving waitress, a hand-washing servant, and a musical robot band, and many types of clocks and several pumps and water-rising mechanisms. In his book Al-Jazari cites the previous authors that have inspired several of his machines, and how he improved them. Many of the machines though are original inventions than employ novel techniques and mechanisms.

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Candle clock

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Hydraulic mechanism

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Water-serving automaton

Most importantly for us, wonderful cutaway drawings in color illustrate the functioning for most of the machines. The precise and beautiful diagrams look remarkably modern, and are drawn in a clean lineal style, and include labels indicating the name for each part of the mechanism.

There are many good articles online about Ismail Al-Jazari. This one include extensive references and is a great place to start if you want to lean more about this medieval genius.


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Our new book about cutaways, LOOK INSIDE: Cutaway Illustrations and Visual Storytelling is a showcase of the best, most beautiful and fascinating cutaway illustrations ever created, from historical times to now. Cutaways, exploded views, and cross sections, are explored across a wide range of applications and disciplines. Architectural renderings, anatomical illustrations, machine diagrams, and even fantasy illustrations are just a few of the various subjects presents in this compilation.

LOOK INSIDE is published by Gestalten and will be released in the U.S. in November 21st. It can be preorder in Amazon, or, if you are in Europe, can be ordered at the Gestalten online store.

G.H. Davis: a Master of the Cutaway

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In our new book LOOK INSIDE, dedicated to cutaway infographics, there are only two examples (due to space constrains) of the work of one of the most prolific cutaway artists of all time, and perhaps the first to concentrate most of his efforts in this particular kind of explanation graphics: George Horace Davis. Regrettably, he is almost completely forgotten today, and we feel he deserves to be better known.

G.H. Davis was born in London in 1881. He received a formal art education and was already working as a freelance artist before World War I. He served on the Royal Air Force putting his talent to good use creating aerial diagrams for pilot training. After the war he continued his career as a freelance artist specialized on military subjects, and in 1923 he started his 40-year collaboration with the Illustrated London News. By his own estimate he created more than 2,500 pages of illustrations over a 40-year span, many of them consisting of very detailed technical cutaways of military planes, ships, submarines, and tanks.

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A British mine-laying submarine: detailed drawings of a boat of the Rorqual Class, in use during the Second World War. It carried out a specialised and dangerous task in enemy waters. Date: 1944

A British mine-laying submarine: detailed drawings of a boat of the Rorqual Class, in use during the Second World War. It carried out a specialised and dangerous task in enemy waters. Date: 1944

Most of his illustrations for ILN are black and white paintings, occupying  a full-page or a spread, and sometimes a four-page gatefold. During World War II he created hundreds of paintings revealing the inner workings of about every single plane, ship and tank used by both sides during the conflict.

Besides his work in ILN he collaborated with other British magazines such as Flight and Modern Wonders. In the U.S. Popular Mechanics published his work regularly. He died at age 82 in 1963, and many of his original pieces are preserved in the Imperial War Museum, in London.

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A British mine-laying submarine: detailed drawings of a boat of the Rorqual Class, in use during the Second World War. It carried out a specialised and dangerous task in enemy waters. Date: 1944

A British mine-laying submarine: detailed drawings of a boat of the Rorqual Class, in use during the Second World War. It carried out a specialised and dangerous task in enemy waters. Date: 1944

There is not a lot of information about Davis online. There are good articles about him  here and here. For those interested, It is still possible to find original copies of his illustrations for ILN in Ebay.

LOOK INSIDE will be released this month in the U.S. In Europe it can be ordered already on Gestalten, and in the U.S. can be preordered in Amazon.

The Cutaway Illustrations of Fred Freeman

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During the two-year research
for our book LOOK INSIDE we discovered many amazing illustrations and artists that, for one reason or another, did not make it into the final version of the book. It would be a pity to leave these forgotten on a drawer, so during the next few weeks we will present here some of these masters of the cutaway.

A while ago we wrote here about Frank Soltesz, an American illustrator active from the 30’s to the 60’s, and author of a marvelous series of architectural cutaways appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. Today we want to pay homage to another artist of the same epoch: Fred Freeman.

Fred Freeman started his career in the 30’s. By this time cutaway illustrations were becoming a tool that popular magazine would often use to covey to their readers detailed information about technical topics. Commercial illustrator were often asked to produce cross-sections and cutaways for various publications, sometimes with striking results.

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Fred Freeman was an accomplished American illustrator who designed and illustrated books on naval history, space exploration and other technical subjects. What impressed us most during our research was the wonderful series of cutaway illustrations he created for Collier’s magazine between 1952 and 1954, all of them for the series “Man Will Conquer Space Soon”. The spectacular, full color, spread or full-page illustrations depict in stunning detail cutaways of space stations, spacecraft, space emergency devices, and other aspects of the future of space exploration. The images illustrate the ideas of the then director of the Marshall Space Flight Center, at NASA, Wernher von Braun, a space travel visionary who was already insisting by then on a manned mission to Mars.

It is surprising and disappointing how little information is out there about such a wonderful artist as Fred Freeman. Please let us know if you have any more information about him and we will publish it as an update here.

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The new Atlas of Design

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The latest edition (Volume III) of the Atlas of Design is available for pre-order! The Atlas is an amazing compilation of cartographic design, selected in a worldwide competition by a panel of experts. The range of creative approaches in the 32 maps that make the book presents a wonderful picture of the broad scope of mapmaking styles as well as its challenges. Each map is accompanied by comments from the author, giving us insight about the conception and the ideas behind its creation.

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The book is published every two years by the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) a not-for-profit professional organization for mapmakers. In their words:

The Atlas aims to inspire readers both within the field of cartography and without toward new understandings of design, and of the power that a well-crafted map can have. In an age when more and more mapping tasks are being turned over to computers, the Atlas provides one more answer to the question: What do cartographers do?

I was honored to be asked to write an introductory essay for the book, which I ended noting: “This book is a formidable compilation of beautiful and informative cartography, from classically designed to bold and daring; from hand-drawn gems to multilayered interactive presentations. It is a collection of short stories about the world we live in, each as fascinating and unique as the cartographers who made them”.

When I was Art Director at National Geographic I was lucky to work with some of the best mapmakers in the world (including Ginny Mason, an active force behind the publication of this book), and I was in awe of their skill to achieve beautifully crafted and precise pieces of journalistic storytelling. The work in this compilation speaks to that great skill.

You can preorder the book here. And take a look at some of the work in the previous Volume I and Volume II.

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Form left to right: Co-editors Marty Elmer and Sam Matthews, and assistant editor Ginny Mason

 

Our book LOOK INSIDE in Wired.com

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Margaret Rhodes has written a great review of our book LOOK INSIDE at Wired.com, and we can’t be more pleased with it. The article, titled LOOK INSIDE: A SPECTACULAR COLLECTION OF CUTAWAY INFOGRAPHICS, includes a nice gallery of images from the book.

Margaret called us a few days ago and we talked a few minutes about the book:

“From the beginning the idea was to make not only a collection of scientific infographics, but show the whole range of how different artists are using these types of illustrations,” says designer Juan Velasco, who curated the book with his brother, Samuel. (The two also co-founded information design studio 5W Infographics.) Together, the pair began collecting visualizations for the book two years ago, after realizing no such compilation existed.

The result is an exquisite assortment of cross sectional, transparent, and exploded-view cutaways that crisscrosses both history and subject matter. The book traces the earliest evidence of the genre to the Arnhem Land region in northern Australia. There, 28,000 years ago, Aboriginal inhabitants painted diagrams of humans and animals on cave walls, deconstructing their subjects into bones, organs, and muscles. “They are most certainly the first cutaway illustrations ever created,” the Velascos write.

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LOOK INSIDE  is ready to ship in Europe in the Gestalten’s website. It will be available in the U.S. in November 21 and can be preordered already in Amazon.com.

Thanks Margaret!

Our new book: “LOOK INSIDE” coming out this month

 

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Two years ago, we had the idea of putting together a book about cutaway illustrations, one of our favorite kind of infographics. It would be a showcase of the best, most beautiful and fascinating cutaway illustrations ever created, from historical times to now. It would include not only cutaways, but also cross sections, and exploded views. We pitched the idea to Gestalten, a leading international publisher of graphic books in Germany. We had contributed with a few infographics to some of their books before, and we thought they may be interested. They loved the idea!. We have been working together with Gestalten for the last two years putting together this book. Its title is “LOOK INSIDE: Cutaway Illustrations and Visual Storytelling“, and we are proud to announce it will be released this month in Europe, and in November in the U.S. It is, we believe, the first of its kind, showcasing exclusively cutaways, cross sections and exploded views.

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Lookinside2.pngBionic Woman, by Bryan Christie

 

Lookinside3.pngFeline Anatomy, by Raymond Biesinger

All images from Look Inside, Copyright Gestalten 2016

 

Gestalten did a fantastic design job and the book itself looks great. It is a large (9.6 x 13 inches) hardcover volume, 256 pages long, choke-full of gorgeous illustrations, and includes several spectacular gatefolds. As for the contents, the book celebrate cutaways in all their variety and richness, from the renaissance engravings of the mystic-scientist Athanasius Kircher, to today’s 3D, X-Ray-like anatomical views of Bryan Christie. Cutaways, exploded views, and cross sections, are explored across a wide range of applications and disciplines. Architectural renderings, anatomical illustrations, machine diagrams, and even fantasy illustrations are just a few of the various subjects presentes in this compilation.

We are so excited about this! We hope you have as much fun with this book as we had making it. The book will be ready for preorder in a few days in Gestalten’s website.