Here are two recent technical illustrations for Decagon Devices, Inc. They're both of a new sensor called the Dual-Head Infiltrometer. The sensor "measures soil saturated hydraulic conductivity, or Kfs. It is fully automated and requires no post-processing of data". That description came from the Decagon website here. A description more accessible to a layman illustrator such as myself is that, among other things, the Dual-Head Infiltrometer measures how quickly a particular soil (or some other material) absorbs water.
The DHI has three main components: A pressurized chamber, a field pump, and a water bag from which the pump draws its water for testing purposes. Like all Decagon sensors, this one was built for accuracy, ease of use, and durability.
First, I was asked to draw a cross-section of the pressurized chamber. It needed to show the pressurized interior of the chamber and the area beneath the chamber where the water is absorbed 3-dimensionally into the soil (this area is known as the "wetting front").
Here's the sketch of the cross-section:
Here's the final version of the cross-section:
This illustration is a perfect example of why illustration is invaluable: It clearly explains the process and mechanics of the sensor, which makes it great for education and marketing. It's also a visual that's nearly impossible (or at least extremely difficult) to get any other way. The only way to photograph something like this would be to physically cut a section away from an existing sensor, which would be expensive, time-consuming, and unlikely to look particularly good in the end. Stock photography isn't likely to be much help in a situation this specific, either.
This was a great job. I hadn't done an in-depth technical illustration for a while and it was fun, interesting and satisfying to have the opportunity to do so.
The second part of this job was an illustration of the Dual-Head Infiltrometer field setup, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: An illustration of the three DHI components as they look when they're being used on site.
Here's the layout sketch:
Here's the outlined version:
And here's the final version:
It was a lot of work. Fortunately, the amount of work was also commensurate with the amount of fun. This was such a satisfying piece to draw. I enjoyed pretty much every minute of it and I'm also pretty happy with the way the illustration turned out.
So I'd call that a success.