Profile | Fritz Drury





Fritz Drury is a Professor of Illustration at RISD, and a painter residing and working in New York. Among many courses in painting, drawing and human anatomy, he has taught Virtual Reality Design for Science for 15 years in collaboration with Brown University, and has collaborated on many user studies and research papers on using artistically derived visual expertise in designing research tools for scientists. Following undergraduate studies in 1977 at Stanford University where Drury earned a Bachelor of Arts Distinction in Art History, he attended Yale University where he earned his Master of Fine Arts.





Design and Validation of Perceptually Accurate Spatial Data Visualization for Brain Cohort Analysis: Using Concepts from Arts, Perception, and Information Visualization

Current NSF Grant Proposal in Collaboration with Jian Chen of University of Maryland, Baltimore

The project goal is to conduct research in parallel between human-computer interaction and human perceptual and cognitive capabilities to understand their integration so as to maximize humans’ limited perceptual, cogntive, and motor resources and thus enhance scientists’ analysis capabilities.

The proposal makes three innovative claims: (1) artistic drawings can define some contextual visual constraints that make visual stimuli explicit so that visualization will replace arduous cognitive tasks with perceptual inferences. By explicit visualization, we mean the representation conveys the data structure directly; (2) such artistic drawing will be able to support complex spatial data presentation “preattentively” and we can turn subjective artistic drawings into objective design knowledge by decomposing visual design into primitive visual elements, describing a functional classification of the different primitives, and presenting rules for composing these elements. In this way, design principles can be derived to let us compare and reuse visual design elements for many spatial tasks; and (3) when human vision (perceptual and cognitive) and interaction (motor) resources are combined with the physical display characteristics (hardware), we can truly to understand the range of design in multifaceted data analysis.


Virtual Reality Design for Science

Fall 2015

In collaboration with Brown University Professor David Laidlaw, Department of Computer Science; Professor Sharon Swartz, Brown University Departments of Biology and Engineering; Professor Stephen Gatesy, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Professor Joseph Crisco, Professor of Orthopedics and Engineering.

This course will be taught in part in the YURT, the new virtual reality facility at Brown, replacing the CAVE. This is a collaborative, interdisciplinary exercise, merging faculty and student expertise in art and science to create “sketches” for innovative approaches to scientific visualization for use by doctors and other scientists. Visual qualities and variables from diverse artistic and design disciplines are studied for potential applicability in enhancing communicative properties of visualizations of complex data in challenging 3-D and time variant situations, ultimately employing the unique qualities of immersive, interactive virtual reality environments.

The student cohort is drawn equally from RISD and Brown, and includes artists, designers and scientists. This is the sixth iteration of the course, and will feature multiple topics for study including the movement of the human carpus, the flight of bats and dinosaur morphology. Past projects have included arterial blood flow.


Human Anatomy Textbook

On-going work emphasizing kinetics and functional morphology, for use in art


Visualization Criticism

May-June 2008

Kosara et al., Computer Graphics and Applications, IEEE

I collaborated on this paper detailing the role that techniques of visual analysis used in art & design critique can play in determining effective structures and strategies for scientific visualization.


Natural Media and Artistic Process in Scientific Visualization


Lecture at the 2004 Winter Conference on Brain Research: (within the group presentation: Applying Lessons of Visual Art to the
study of the Brain).


Using Visual Design Expertise to Characterize the Effectiveness of 2D Scientific Visualization Methods


IEEE Best Poster Award with Acevedo et al. I collaborated on this poster detailing the role that techniques of visual analysis used in art & design critique can play in determining effective structures and strategies for scientific visualization.



Contact Fritz Drury