Gill has created a series of graphic design workshops, specifically for research scientists, that are designed to improve scientific visual communication in papers, presentations, posters, etc. These workshops can be delivered either in-person or online.

The graphic design workshops were developed during Gill’s collaborative work with the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences at King’s College London and derive directly from her PhD research. As a former scientist herself, Gill is very aware of the constraints and conventions surrounding the creation and use of scientific figures, and these issues are addressed in the workshops.

Gill continues to provide these workshops for research students of the Health Faculties at KCL and an introductory video on the KCL website, in the form of a conversation between Gill and Dr Mattia Veronese of the CNS, describes the ethos behind the workshops, the topics that are covered and what participants can expect to learn.

The graphic design workshops cover two main topics and are typically delivered in two sessions:

1. Good Graphic Design Practice

A workshop that demonstrates the positive impact of good graphic design practice as it relates to scientific visual communication used in papers, posters and presentations. The workshop covers: 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 or posters, that can be used in the workshop. The design templates and colour palettes relevant to your institution can also be incorporated.

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.

This is a practical workshop, where participants will have the opportunity to use Adobe Illustrator software for themselves. Participants perform two hands-on exercises, designed to use all of the basic functionality in the software, and will have the opportunity to try drawing their own figures. Handouts are provided, that give detailed step-by-step instructions for the Adobe Illustrator functionality, in addition to the guidance provided throughout the session by Gill. This workshop is not designed to give comprehensive instruction in Adobe Illustrator but it will demonstrate to a participant how this kind of illustration software could be useful in their work.

As well as King’s College London, Gill has provided these workshops to other scientific institutions, including the German Centre for Neurogenerative Diseases (DZNE). Feedback from participants is always very positive, as the comments below show:

“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.”

“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.”

“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 participants in Gill’s graphic design workshops

If you think these workshops may be useful for your institution then contact Gill directly – – for more details and to discuss how the workshops can be tailored to meet your specific needs.