Last week (depending on when you're reading this), someone from Decagon Devices asked if I could work up a few sketches on a new hydrology sensor they're developing. It's called the "CTD", an abbreviation of "Conductivity, Temperature, Depth". The device gathers data in those categories and is great for monitoring wetlands, surface and groundwater, agricultural settings, and any number of other applications.
Lately, I've been approaching projects of this nature with a new question in addition to the standard questions I ask during the concept phase (audience, context, application, etc.). The new question is, "How can illustration be used in this context to offer something another medium (like photography or video) can't offer?"
Aside from the typical benefits of using illustration in an advertising/marketing arena (custom material, aesthetic appeal, accessibility, etc.), illustration also provides a means of visualizing ideas and concepts that can't be created through other means (not easily, at any rate). I like to utilize that advantage whenever possible.
In this case, the simplicity of the CTD's exterior belies its complexity. With illustration, Decagon can show an audience of potential clients how the design and engineering of this sensor make it uniquely functional and diverse. This can be accomplished by creating a pull apart image that lists some of its components, their functions, and their benefits. I also created symbols that correspond to these functions in order to help distill their meaning somewhat and make the diagram more visually appealing.
The next step was to show how the CTD is useful in multiple environments. Again, asking the question about the advantage of illustration, I realized a cross section of soil beneath the environment being monitored could show what the CTD is actually doing. I can show what it looks like underground, which I think is pretty cool (and pretty unique to illustration).
I included multiple versions of these concepts in various layouts. My favorite is probably the vertical wetlands concept, mostly for aesthetic reasons. The final versions are in the works and I'll post them when they're ready.