A type specimen is a single specimen of a new species established as an example of the taxon. The illustration along with the species description is published to preserve and convey visual information used for classification and differentiation between species using individual characteristics. The drawings must render explicit features in support of systematic ordering and fixed criteria. A specimen is brought in fresh, preserved in liquid or on herbarium sheets, and discussed with the researcher. Repositioning or reconstructing dried, distorted, or broken specimens may be necessary in order to render explicit characteristics if they have been damaged in any way. The Illustrator’s job is to draw the required views accurately with the morphological criteria to be emphasized, review the detailed, preliminary sketch with the researcher, and render the final illustration using a technique most appropriate for publication needs.
The completed illustration is scanned at high resolution for labeling, making a plate for publication and submitted in digital format. The time involved per illustration varies greatly with the complexity of the specimen and the number of elements required for a finished plate, often 20 to 40 hours.
A diagram is a simplification of a complex subject. Maps are useful for representing research sites and depicting relationships between elements in space or areas. The amount of time for such diagrams or maps varies greatly due to the wide range of needs, but generally 3 to 15 hours each.