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Master of Arts in Fine Art and Design


Margot Ceelen

The Heart of Forensic Medicine

When I looked through my notes from the past two years, I found a piece of paper that had my teacher Ilse’s handwriting on it. Long before starting the graduation project, like the rest of the class, I had a personal conversation with her about what drives me, why I chose this profession and what I want to contribute to this field of work. Without fully realizing it, all of these questions resurfaced when I had to decide on a thesis topic.
All I have ever wanted to do professionally is use my artistic skills for a purpose. Coming from the gaming/animation industry, where I missed the depth I was looking for, going into scientific illustration felt like coming home. It is a privilege to be a part of a small group of people that dedicate their career to creating art in service of science.
I didn’t know the specifics yet, but I wanted my thesis to be about mortality in some way. It felt natural to stay close to myself when choosing a topic that, although harder to execute, would keep me searching for depth for longer.
This is why I decided to go with the forensic field and more specifically; forensic medicine.

What draws me to this specific corner of science is its unique position between medicine and the judicial system, where they offer the final ‘quality control’ check on the healthcare system.
As scientific illustration is illustration in the service of science, forensic medicine is medicine in service of the law. That overlap of worlds really resonates with me.
In this thesis I will illustrate several aspects of forensic medicine so that you, reader, will be able to understand its value and let go of any misconceptions you may have. I hope to shed a visual light on a subject that is mostly shrouded in darkness.

Over the duration of this thesis I explored several illustrative solutions to help solve visual problems for the Forensic Medicine Departement of University Hospital Leuven. I explored the different categories of Forensic Art by making my own contributions to it with the several target audiences in mind.
I provided my external advisor with new forensic body diagrams, created illustrations for relatives of a decedent and illustrated the most challenging steps of the heart dissection done during post-mortem investigations.
To see the full publication, including my research and work processes, visit my instagram page @margot.ceelen or send me an email at