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New fast and free method to make accurate digital line drawings

Date:
July 30, 2015
Source:
Pensoft Publishers
Summary:
No matter if you are a specialist or not, there is one vital rule in illustrating descriptions of new plant or animal species: you have to do it! A paper published in the open-access journal ZooKeys describes a new fast and free method to make accurate digital line drawings.
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The user can draw using a simple mouse and pressing the shift key on the keyboard to digitally ink the pencil line.
Credit: Dr. Giuseppe Montesanto; CC-BY 4.0

When aiming to express a concept or convey a message, the use of visual material is certainly a clearer and more understandable method compared to a text-only description.

Images facilitate the reading of a text by providing an easy and immediate visual explanation. In biosystematics, descriptions of new plant and animal taxa are always combined with figures and plates in order to illustrate the anatomical parts and body details.

Taxonomists need images of good quality in describing taxa. As a rule, drawings are better detailed than stereo or light microscope photographs since some details, which are often barely visible in a photograph, can be highlighted in the drawing.

Nowadays only digital figures (drawings or photographs) are accepted by the most important journals of taxonomy. The usual method used so far to digitalise a conventional drawing is by scanning, however a simple scan does not always represent correctly the complex ink figure.

The new method, developed by Dr. Giuseppe Montesanto in the University of Pisa (Italy), to produce digitised drawings straight on your computer using specialised software.

The paper published in ZooKeys provides simple step-by-step instructions for users to produce noteworthy results with this easy method.

The procedure in short makes use of bitmap graphics with the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). The method is very accurate, producing detailed lines at the highest resolution and the raster lines appear as realistic ink-made drawings.

Additional advantages are that it is faster than the traditional way of making illustrations and everyone can use this simple technique. The method is also completely free as it does not use expensive and licensed software and it can be used with different operating systems.

'When you describe a new species for scientific literature, the illustrations are not an addition to your description. They are an integral part of it. You may not be a great artist (although many biologists are talented artists), but with this method you can learn to do adequate drawings'. adds Dr. Montesanto.


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Journal Reference:

  1. Giuseppe Montesanto. A fast GNU method to draw accurate scientific illustrations for taxonomy. ZooKeys, 2015; 515: 191 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.515.9459

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Pensoft Publishers. "New fast and free method to make accurate digital line drawings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 July 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150730111037.htm>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2015, July 30). New fast and free method to make accurate digital line drawings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150730111037.htm
Pensoft Publishers. "New fast and free method to make accurate digital line drawings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150730111037.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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