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.

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)

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

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 course, 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.

The course consists of three training sessions, that can be delivered in the classroom or remotely. The sessions can also be undertaken online by the participant themselves, in their own time. Currently the online course material can only be accessed by staff and students at KCL, although there are plans to make it more widely available in the future. Gill herself can, of course, conduct the sessions for any institution, either in-person or remotely.

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
Online course material on the KCL ‘KEATS’ page

The training sessions were developed during Gill’s collaborative work with KCL and derive directly from her PhD research. They 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. The design templates and colour palettes relevant to your institution can be incorporated into the presentation, if they are provided to Gill prior to the workshop. The presentation 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. Participants are provided with a pdf file that summarises the information in the presentation.
  2. A Methodical Approach to Building Figures A presentation 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 presentation 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 can be edited and adapted.
    • Exercise 2 – drawing a mouse brain – participants use jpeg 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. For online learning, videos of Gill demonstrating the two exercises are available for viewing. 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 file of Illustrator ‘tips’.

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