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Nerves & Structures of the Cranium

A structurally accurate and realistic depiction of the cranium from a posterior coronal view that depicts its contents as well as the pathways of various cranial nerves as they exit the cranium.

Client: Shelley Wall

Medium: Anatomy textbook

Primary Audience: Anatomy students

Software: Procreate, Illustrator


The goal of this project was to design a one-page illustration visualizing a neuroanatomy topic that is difficult to conceptualize. During our anatomy course, we had to memorize which cranial nerves exited which foramina of the skull. Looking back, I realized I had never encountered any diagrams depicting this content. For this reason, I chose to illustrate a coronal cut of the cranium from a posterior view. This non-standard view allows the viewer to appreciate the contents of the cranium and follow the trajectory of several cranial nerves as they emerge from the brainstem and exit the cranium.

Clean Sketch

A combination of 2D and 3D visual references (see below) were collected and referenced during the generation of a clean sketch. The focus of this illustration was to depict and highlight the cranial cavities and nerves from a posterior view. For this reason, vascular structures were intentionally omitted as they would have obscured these focal structures and created additional visual clutter.


Dr. Shelley Wall and PhD student Hei-Ching Kristy Cheung were consulted on the anatomical accuracy of the clean sketch. Minor adjustments were made to the sketch before moving on to the rendering phase.


Surgical photographs and videos were referenced in the rendering of the final illustration. This enabled me to portray the various types of tissue in a manner that resembles live tissue.


Finally, I chose to depict my subject as a person of color with natural Afro-textured hair as I strive to increase diverse representation within the canon of anatomical illustrations.


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