Medical Illustration

Illustrating anatomy, science and medicine

Rocket Steps specialises in medical illustration (medcomms illustration) and motion graphics. Helping clients communicate medical and scientific information effectively through clear visuals and animation.

John's background in art, production and visual storytelling creates detailed and engaging medical illustrations for use in education and marketing. From anatomy to theory models, we can help you find the correct level of detail needed in your images to convey bodily structures and procedures clearly and concisely.

Catering for large and small-scale delivery, from one-to-one consultations to collaborations with other artists in the studio, John works with public and private medical healthcare organisations across the world. We assess project requirements and offer a variety of options to create visuals with precision and clarity that bring your project in on time and on budget.

Stem illustration, for science, Engineering, technology and Maths, medicine

We provide medical communication artwork which can be turned into motion graphics animation to explain complex processes clearly. As well as animation we also provide graphic design for leaflets brochures and exhibition stands.

Medical science illustration

We don't use AI-generated imagery, everything is bespoke and human-made. All artwork provided to the client is owned by the client on completion. We have a large bank of existing illustration reference images that we refer to to make projects cost-efficient.


Healthcare Graphic Design & illustration
Medcomms illustrator
STEM Education
Science and Education illustration

Medcomms illustration for the University of Manchester
e-learning illustration html5

Animated explainer videos

Animated explainer videos. Telling stories with illustration and engagement.

I recently worked the the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership, a department of the NHS that helps autistic people access healthcare. For this project, I animated two stories, those of Robbie and Helen, capturing their experiences in illustration and animation (motion graphics).

Chatting with Robbie, Helen and the team, I listened to their stories and put together visuals to add movement to, I guess you could say I took on the role of art director. Working in subdued colours and subtle image transitions, It was a deliberate choice to make the vocals the primary focus, letting the story of lived experience inform the flow and tone of the visuals. I'm really proud of this work.

Both videos had slightly different considerations. The audio has been edited, to keep the videos short for social media, while keeping the message of the story clear.

Massive thanks to Robbie, Helen, Sharon, Lesley and team. This was a great project to collaborate on. While the illustration, video and animation are all my work, this never felt like a solo project, and that's the mark of a great client.

Looking for animated explainer videos for your project?


Candid autism strategy

More animation and motion graphics

What can an explainer video look like?

You've probably seen an explainer video. Traditionally it starts with someone talking, and then a hand appears and starts drawing what's being talked about, speedily making pictures to illustrate the subject. I've done a few of those, but they don't always need to look like that, do they?

I think it's just in the terminology, perhaps more folk have heard of the word 'explainer video' than say 'motion graphics' or 'storytelling video'. There are loads of ways of telling a story in a video, and explainer style is just one.

Where will it appear?

He's an example I did recently for NHS North West. You'll notice no sound or voiceover in this version. That's because in the initial meeting, we looked at what the team needed the video for, and where it would be seen. From there I could Then plan the best formats, so they got maximum value from the result.

Getting maximum value from the explainer video format

There were separate illustrations for print, a PowerPoint slideshow someone could talk over to an audience, and a version with text overlayered, to play out on a big screen in a conference room to engage an audience before an event began.

The end goal in mind

Having the end goal in mind helped the format. Identifying where and how the content would appear, meant I could lean into detail with the illustrations to engage the audience in my signature style. A great project to work on and cheers to the team for giving me creative freedom on it.

Illustration taken from an explainer video

Ask the robot dog assistant

Question: Come on then Turbine fella, how would you describe an explainer video?

Woof, an explainer video is a short and engaging video that explains a complex or tricky-to-understand subject in a simple and accessible way. It can be created using different styles such as hand-drawn animation or clean and technical data animation.

What could I use it for?

They can be used for a variety of purposes. They are great for simplifying complex ideas, introducing a new product or service, showcasing a brand or company, educating customers or employees, and promoting a cause or idea. 

How long should an explainer video be?

the ideal length of an explainer video depends on the complexity of the subject matter and the attention span of your target audience. Generally, most explainer videos range from 60 to 90 seconds. This is because attention spans are short, and you want to get your message across quickly and effectively. However, if the subject matter is more complex, the video can be longer, up to 2-3 minutes.

Useful links:

NHS GM integrated care

Motion Graphics for NHS North West

I recently worked with an NHS team in Leyland to create a video celebrating their progress.

They were a great team to work with, telling me their story and providing ideas to work with help articulate the story they wanted to tell. I created warm, eye-catching illustrations to capture the events that they wanted to recognize.

I started with some rough sketches suggesting how the video could look and put together an animatic, which is a rough version to show the team and make sure we were on the right Lines. I also got to work with a professional voice actor Drew whose vocals really gave the final work.

Do you have a story your looking to tell visually? Whether you have a clear idea or you're not sure where to start get in touch and I can help you create your vision. Below are some stills taken from the video.

Graphics taken from a storytelling  video, animation and illustration.

Turbine (robot dog assistant) on the benefits of using animated videos for your marketing;

Woof! Using motion graphics for marketing offers several benefits:

  1. Attention-Grabbing: They use animation and visual effects, making them highly engaging. They attract attention more effectively than static images or text, helping your marketing materials stand out in a crowded digital landscape.
  2. Enhanced Branding: Motion graphics allow you to incorporate your brand's visual identity, such as logo, colours, and typography, into dynamic and animated elements. This helps reinforce your brand recognition.
  3. Improved Information Retention: Animated visuals can be more memorable Woof! Using motion graphics, you can present complex information, data, or whatever you like in a visually appealing way.
  4. Increased Engagement: People are more likely to engage with and share content that includes motion graphics. The dynamic nature of motion graphics can evoke emotions, spark curiosity, and encourage viewers to interact with your marketing materials, resulting in higher engagement rates.
  5. Versatility: Motion graphics can be used across various marketing platforms and formats, including social media, websites, presentations, advertisements, and videos. They are adaptable and can be tailored to suit different purposes, making them a versatile tool for conveying your marketing message consistently across different channels.
  6. Improved Storytelling: Motion graphic animation allow you to tell stories in a visually compelling way. By combining visuals, text, and audio, you can create narratives that resonate with your audience, evoke emotions, and convey the essence of your brand or product effectively.
  7. Increased Conversion Rates: Engaging motion graphics can have a positive impact on conversion rates. By capturing attention and creating an emotional connection, motion graphics can drive user actions, such as signing up for newsletters, making purchases, or sharing content, leading to higher conversion rates.
  8. Modern and Innovative Image: Incorporating motion in your marketing strategy demonstrates your brand is up-to-date with current trends and appeals to tech-savvy audiences.

Overall, motion graphics offer a powerful way to communicate your marketing message, enhance brand awareness, and drive audience engagement, leading to improved marketing outcomes.

Useful links;

Leyland Primary Care Network

Can you draw sound?

Do you know what Phononics are? Can you draw sound?

Here's some new work I did for Professor Will J. Parnell for the International Phononics conference this year. As a creative, I love learning new things when I make animations and visuals - and this is a brilliant challenge.

"Phononic materials are engineered media that can manipulate waves propagating through them due to their synthetic and periodic architecture" Got that? My rough understanding is how soundwaves move through materials, and how soundproofing works.

Illustrating sound waves was pretty straightforward, with waveforms. Soundproofing materials was trickier. I looked at maths-based art (as that formed the exciting logo) with all its geometry, tesselation and symmetry, and the two parts came together nicely to carry the theme of the event. But where does the sound come from? These are the questions, and that's when the train the visual whoosh came in at the beginning.

Animating for #WorldAutismAwarenessWeek

Helping the NHS Cheshire tell positive stories of the experience of autistic people for their Autism Awareness Strategy.

The NHS Cheshire & Wirral are launching their new autism awareness strategy and were looking for someone to help promote it with some animation. Hello.
What was so cool about this project, is how open to ideas they were when I suggested using characters to tell a 'day in the life' story. We are all keen to get it right and make it really engaging. So less data and more story. It became a really positive collaborative process.

The Characters
Taking feedback from a group, the team tested a few types of characters, from basic shapes to talking animals and, settled on people with easy-to-read expressions.
Robbie, who brought me into the project had seen my pandemic comic strip, Distance, and was keen to use that style to render the characters, giving the animation (motion graphics to be fair) a comic strip feel to tell the story, some of which was taken from his own life experience.

The Script

The script was created collaboratively. I wrote up a first draft, a jumping-off point to work from. The team then added, edited and in our online meeting gave me plenty of notes to create a more well-rounded, story while keeping a light-hearted tone. If you want funny stories about real life - crikey, the folks in the NHS have loads of them!

The Recording

I did a first run, and then Robbie suggested recording people with lived experience. This made perfect sense, and as we weren't budgeting for full lip-synched animation and made the piece a lot more authentic.


In discussion with the NHS team, we looked at details like the use of colour, sound and clear facial expressions of the characters of Andy and his pal Seema. Big thanks to Maddy, Sharon, Lesley, Robbie and Mahesh for getting me in to be their art director, and creator of this video animation.

Do you have a story to tell? Not sure how to get started with it or just need some ideas?
Get in touch to see how I can help bring it to life.

The Princess and the Neutral Inclusion

Combining a few different techniques, working with the department of waves and materials at the University of Manchester.

The science itself was a bit tricky to get my head around, but then learning new things is one of my passions, and creating educational content like this is one of the pillars of the design studio - to make work that has value outside of just doing the work. So what are neutral inclusions I hear you ask? Well, I'm just the messenger, here's the video.

Illustration and Motion Graphics

I recently worked with Gorse Hill Studios, creating illustration and video animation for schools on the subject of CCE (child criminal exploitation).

For the brief, I had text descriptions of scenarios that can happen in CCE . Animatics were created - roughly sketched storyboards with movement - so the client could see what the end videos would look like. Voice-over narration was recorded by the Gorse Hill team with school children describing the scenarios they may encounter. The video animation was kept really (really) simple. It's mostly image transitions, as the voice-over was added later, and the turnaround time was really tight.

Illustration and video for schools. This video has no sound.

I'd like to think my signature style works well here, helping to soften the tough message the studio and project leaders are addressing in the work they do in schools.

Working in the educational space is really rewarding as the work has a purpose outside of the aesthetic of the illustrations. Having simple scenarios to work from, as opposed to a script, meant that I could try and tell the story in as fewer frames as possible.

The illustrations where created in ClipStudio then broken into elements. The audio was edited in audacity. These assets were imported into DaVinci resolve for video editing and exported as 1080pHD MP4 for videos. Some colour correction was done Affinity Photo.

Illustration for Innovation.

Teaming up with animation studio The Outset to create an animated video for Innovate UK.

I was given a script to work with and provided storyboards and illustrations. They were then broken into assets and given to The Outset to animate and produce. Creating work that's purpose-driven is a real goal of mine, as is collaborating with other talented creatives. It was a pleasure to be brought onto this project for my signature style of illustration work. See the full video below.

Illustration for video production
artwork for video

Providing the illustrations for this promotional video on place-based innovation

See also:

The Outset.

Motion graphics work

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    Visualising the Maths of Muscles

    I've teamed up again with the researchers at the University of Manchester's Department of Waves and Materials. this time to create an illustration video on the understanding of soft tissues. Take a look here:

    They provided me with data and the blog article, which was re-written to flow better in audio form. From there I ran with it, creating illustration and animation of karate kids and strongmen. Working together with Dr's Naomi Curati and Tom Shearer making sure the visuals and motion graphics communicated the right message and explained the principal effectively.

    This was another great project to work on, bringing an element of fun to science learning and education, an area I'm really passionate about.

    Do you have news you want to shout about? Get in to touch and take it to the next level.

    Illustration and animation - John Cooper design

    Illustration and animation are a great way to take your digital content to the next level and engage with a larger audience. Great digital marketing campaigns needs great content.

    An illustration can encapsulate a blog or news article in its entirety, in a way that is more effective than traditional photography. Telling a story before ahead of the written word and captuing the imagination of the reader. I work with clients of all sizes creating work like this video. Want to know more? Email

    All of the work here was created in house by me, John Cooper.

    Explainer Video - For Science!

    Explainer videos are great to help engage an audience and explain a particular topic. In this case noise reduction.

    The goal of an explainer video is to take a potentially quite complicated subject and make it engaging and easier to understand.

    They can be hand-drawn, sometimes on a whiteboard, where you can see the hand of the artist creating visuals in time to the narration of the subject matter, but more often tech lends a hand to undo any mistakes.

    This project was for The Mathematics of Waves and Materials group, a research department within the University of Manchester. They work on the "theoretical, numerical and experimental aspects of both materials and waves. " Crikey.

    I was approached to create a video based on a blog about noise-reducing materials. It took a bit of time to read up and understand what the research was before throwing around ideas. Also as this was about sound, 'what to draw' visually was an open-ended question. It was also lots of fun.

    My contact Naomi had already seen my work and gave me quite a bit of creative freedom. I was expecting some resistance submitting storyboards of geese, trumpets and jetpacks, but what I pitched made the cut. It was all about finding the balance between fun and relevance.

    The video was created in lockdown, so I offered to do the voice over too, as a practical solution.

    Read the The Mathematics of Waves and Materials group blog here

    Motion graphic video for the school governors initiative

    Back in January, I started work on a video project for The University of Manchester. The brief was to celebrate and publicise their 'school governors initiative', a programme where university staff help schools and colleges to improve, and in turn, provide an opportunity for self-development for those that volunteer.

    Their initiative has won a handful of awards and I was keen to create a video that would do justice to the hard work and accolades won by Alison, Stephanie and the social responsibility team at the university.

    This projects covers;

    The Process

    Working closely with the team, we started with the script.  Concept visuals were sketched out and then both were combined into a slideshow to give a rough idea of the story they wanted to tell, and how the visuals and voice-over would work together.

    There was a lot of information to get across in the script including surveys and stats, so I considered it important that the illustrations carried a narrative. Two of the key scenes identified from the script were the establishing shot of the university itself and the big success of 'over 1000 governors'.

    Naturally, the script went through revisions, and what started as a three-minute video eventually expanded to around eight minutes to get the entire story told. It was a tough call to leave anything out,  so we decided to go ahead with the longer edit and treat it as a short film.

    For the voiceover, I did the initial pass using a Snowball Blue microphone, which is perfect for voice work. Then dipped into the talent pool of my performer friends at Comedysportz, who individually have done voice work for talking books and video games and offered a handful of voices to choose from. After choosing Rob Hudson, a recording session took place, which was edited and synced up to the video.


    The entire project took three months of working across many different disciplines. Here's the final result;

    Technical info