Teaching & Workshops

Gill is great – very informative session and it was great to have a perspective from someone who understands both scientific figures and graphic design. Will definitely make me more aware of how I design my figures in the future.

Feedback from a participant in a teaching session at KCL Health Faculties

Gill provides teaching sessions and hands-on workshops, both for scientists and for graphic designers, that can be presented either in-person or remotely online. Contact Gill directly – gill@graphical-science.com – if her teaching and workshops could be useful for you.

Workshops for graphic designers

Gill frequently presents her research work to graphic designers, particularly to post-graduate students. She emphasises the use of graphic design practice in her research, demonstrating how this provides her with insights into her research topic that would be extremely difficult to gain through theoretical research alone. She demonstrates how her practice provides her with a toolbox of research methods, proving much more than simply a means of displaying her findings.

Gill is keen to demonstrate to graphic designers the power of graphic design practice when it is applied to other disciplines, providing examples from her collaborative work with scientists at King’s College London (KCL) as proof of this. Encouraging the scientists themselves to engage with graphic design practice enabled them to see their own work in a new, and revealing, light.

Teaching sessions for graphic designers at UAL (left & middle) and scientists at KCL (right)
Workshops for scientists

Specifically for scientists, Gill has created series of workshops – Graphic Design for Scientific Figures – that were originally designed for members of the Health Faculties at KCL but is equally applicable to any scientific institution.

Gill recently (October 2021) ran three online workshops for PhD research students at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), with very positive feedback from the students who participated.

An introductory video on the KCL website, in the form of a conversation between Gill and Dr Mattia Veronese of King’s, describes the ethos behind the workshops, the topics that are covered and what participants can expect to learn. And see the collaboration website for much more detail about the training workshops that Gill has conducted with KCL.

Really helpful course that should be part of every PhD’s curriculum.

Really helpful hands-on course. Gill was great at helping with questions and demonstrating functions.

Feedback from participants in a training session at KCL Health Faculties

The workshops were developed during Gill’s collaborative work with the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences at KCL and derive directly from her PhD research. They currently cover the following topics:

  1. Good Graphic Design Practice A presentation that demonstrates the basics of good graphic design practice, specifically related to scientific figures used in papers, posters and presentations. Topics covered include layout and composition; grids, alignment and use of space; type and typography; use of colour. All examples shown are of scientific images and figures, and participants are encouraged to provide examples of their own figures / posters, that can be used as examples in the workshop. The design templates and colour palettes relevant to your institution can also be incorporated, if they are provided to Gill prior to the workshop. The workshop concludes with a case study that demonstrates how the application of five simple graphic design tips can impact the visual communication of a typical scientific conceptual figure. Other example figures can also be reviewed and discussed at that stage of the workshop. Participants are provided with a pdf handout that summarises the information in the presentation.
  2. A Methodical Approach to Building Figures A workshop that introduces the concept of visual elements and their use in a methodical approach to creating scientific figures. This utilises the ‘Layer’ functionality in vector-based drawing software (in this case, Adobe Illustrator), allowing scientists to more easily create their own figures. The workshop demonstrates how visual elements can be edited and adapted to give the desired result. Prior to the session, participants are encouraged to provide Gill with figures they use in their own research, that can then be used as examples in the session and so make it as relevant as possible.
  3. Adobe Illustrator Exercises. A practical workshop, where participants will have the opportunity to use Adobe Illustrator software for themselves. The workshop is not designed to give comprehensive instruction in Adobe Illustrator but should provide a participant with sufficient insight to determine whether this kind of illustration software could be useful in their work. Participants will perform two exercises, designed to use all of the basic functionality in the software.
    • Exercise 1editing an anatomical human head – participants are provided with an Illustrator file containing an illustration of a sagittal section through a human head and brain. This illustration is made up of many layers that participants can edit and adapt.
    • Exercise 2 – drawing a mouse brain – participants use a jpeg image file, showing a section through a mouse brain, as a guide to draw their own image.
    • During in-person or remote sessions, participants are then encouraged to work on images and figures that would be relevant for their own research, with Gill there to provide one-to-one guidance. In all cases, participants are provided with ten pdf guides, written by Gill, that provide detailed, step-by-step instructions on all of the Adobe Illustrator functionality used in the exercises, together with a 1-page pdf handout of Illustrator ‘tips’.

The workshops can be delivered by Gill either in-person in the classroom, or remotely online. Currently, staff and students at KCL can also access the course material online, via their KEATS webpage (see below).

Online course material on the KCL ‘KEATS’ page

Organising this workshop was such a great idea! I think it fills an important gap in the training available to PhD students. Without it, it would have taken me forever to get to grips with Adobe Illustrator. Or I would have just stuck with PowerPoint forever …

Feedback from a participant in a training session at KCL Health Faculties