Design, Medically-related, Science, etc.

UnderSkin, the Tube and schematic mapping

A beautiful piece of medical art has cropped up and being doing the rounds again the last few days.

Titled ‘UnderSkin’, and made in 2010 by illustrator/designer Sam Loman, UnderSkin shows the human anatomy in the style of the very famous London Underground map.


The original UnderSkin design by Sam Loman. Credit: Sam Loman. See to buy prints of the updated version. Click to enlarge.


I must say, it’s a beautiful piece of work, showing the locations of and linkages between our respiratory, arterial/venous, muscoloskeletal, lymphatic, digestive, nervous and other systems. And, should you want to put it on your wall, you can buy an updated print directly from Sam (go on! support great work!).

But while it looks, superficially, very much like that Tube map, there’s one, large difference. And it’s that this is far more accurate, at least in terms of where things are. Because, if nothing else, where things are is _important_ in anatomy.  One cannot have people simply carving randomly into bits. Things go badly.

The Tube map, first designed by Harry Beck in 1931 and continuously improved/worked on ever since, isn’t geographically accurate at all. Rather, it shows the _relative_ position of each of the stations along the line, and their connective relationships with each other and fare zones, rather than their geographical position. Which means, amongst other things, that you can’t trust it to tell you how far away something is, or quite, well, where.*


The London Underground map, 2012. Warnings: things are not quite where they appear. Click to enlarge.


So yes. Enjoy.  And go buy a print from Sam. She deserves it, don’t you think?  Also, check out her other art (I especially like the Medical stuff, admittedly) :)


* I found this out myself, when living there. Something could seem like it was going to miles and miles on the tube, but upon getting out and walking I discovered that my destination was a couple of blocks away: something particularly common in the hive that is Central London.