Course Report: “Creating Scientific Illustrations” with Pina Kingman – Bergen 2020

From the 28th to 31st of January 2020, 18 doctoral and masters students came together in Bergen for a four day course on creating scientific illustrations with Pina Kingman, MScBMC.

In this introductory course, students learnt the fundamentals of graphic design and illustration. The aim of this course is to give students the tools necessary to express their ideas visually and to serve as a springboard to continuing this visual practice in their future work.

Through lectures and workshops, we covered the following:

  • Theory of design and visual communication
  • How to apply this theory to illustration and graphic design
  • Best practices for poster and slide presentation design
  • Step by step method on how to draw their own research
  • Introduction to sketching by hand
  • Crash course in digital illustration with mandatory pre-course digital tutorials

Before the course started, students completed about 11 hours of online tutorials to learn the fundamentals of a vector based digital drawing tool of their choice (Adobe Illustrator, Gravit or InkScape). This gave students a foundation to work from during the course.

In addition to lectures on theory and method, as well as guided drawing practice using graphite and charcoal, each student created an illustration depicting their own scientific research. Starting with concept development, sketching ideas by hand, then tracing their final illustration in a digital drawing tool of their choice. Students also worked in groups to brainstorm different ways to solve visual challenges. In addition, students had the opportunity to consult a professional illustrator about their own work.

On the final day, each student presented their digital illustration to the class and received constructive feedback. All the projects were very well thought out and everyone worked hard to improve their digital drawing and visual communication skills. The final projects ranged from creating graphical abstracts, to illustrations for poster presentations, to illustrations for slide presentations, to describing overall research methodology. Feedback was very positive during the course and from evaluations afterwards.

Text: Pina Kingman
Photo: Mandy Kong