Project Summary

Preoperative anemia affects 75% of the surgical patients and is a strong predictor for blood transfusion. Patient blood management (PBM) is an effective program that treats preoperative anemia and prevents unnecessary transfusions, yet many patients are unaware of its existence. A character-driven animation was created with two goals in mind: educate preoperative patients on the risk and benefits of blood transfusion; and improve awareness of PBM, thus improving surgical outcomes for patients.

A patient education video following surgery candidates’ journey from diagnosis to treatment. This animation aims to 1) educate all preoperative patients on the risk of anemia, and 2) to improve awareness of PBM using character animation.




Dr. Katerina Pavenski
Dr. Shelley Wall
Prof. Marc Dryer



St. Michael’s Hospital


Autodesk Maya
Adobe After Effects
Adobe Illustrator



Creative Process

Part of my Master’s Research Thesis: a research project that’s based upon a problem statement and hypothesis that is approved by the student’s graduate committee in one of the two fields of focus: Biomedical Media Design (animation focus) or Biomedical Visualization Design (interactive technology focus).

Patient Profile

The patient profiles are constructed based on interviews with content experts. We start with a character outline, such as such as “East Indian, Middle Ages female”. Further interviews are used to establish the character’s background, e.g.: What’s their Hb level? Why could be the cause of their anemia (diet, genetics, underlying disease etc.)?

Establishing a Metaphor

We based the metaphor on the idea that anemia is caused by “missing building blocks” during red blood cell production. The final metaphor is supported by three character categories: Patients, PBM team members, and other anthropomorphic actors (i.e., Hemoglobin, heart, and brain).

Patient Jouney

First, consult the expert and literature to create a diagnosis flow chart. This step is essential to highlight risk of transfusion, treatment timing, and the need to prioritize treatment of anemia before surgery, and how patient blood management is individualized to each patient profile.



Did you draw that?

One of the biggest challenge is how to combine the 3D character assets, 3D molecular assets, and 2D character assets seamlessly. We used a combination of toon shaders (Maya), frame-by-frame animations (photoshop), grain layer styles (AE), and low frame rate to achieve the “hand-drawn” effect.



The major communication challenges of this project were crafting stories that were not only relatable to a general and diverse audience, but also designing intuitive analogies of complex physiological concepts. The storyboards seen here display a selection of the scenes and analogies explored.

Here’s an early version of the animatic before we incorporated the refined metaphor:


Displayed are motion sequences depicting different characters experiencing the symptoms of anemia. Character animations were purposefully designed to create a more relatable story for audiences.

Frame by frame animation: Adobe Photoshop

3D animation: Autodesk Maya

2D character animation: DUIK Bassel

Research Poster

The poster was accepted for presentation at CSTM (Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine) and Journal of Biomedical Communications.

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Toronto, ON M6K 1X2