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Scientific illustrators represent visually aspects of science, particularly observations of the natural world. The emphasis in scientific illustration is on accuracy and utility, rather than on aesthetics, although scientific illustrators are skilled artists and often known for aesthetic values. Scientific illustration was an important part of scientific communication prior to photography. Since the development of photography, scientific illustration is particularly useful for selective renderings rather than lifelike accuracy. For instance, illustrations of stellar phenomena that are not visible to the human eye; or medical illustrations, which highlight particular parts of a system.

See also technical illustration, which aims to illustrate scientific principles, engineering schemata, inventions and technologies.

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