CHESS Scientific Illustration Course

When: 21-25 March 2022
Where: UiB, Bergen
Credits: The full 5-day course has an expected workload of 50 hours and is therefore corresponding to 2 ECTS.
Lecturer/instructor: Pina Kingman
Max. number of participants: 20
Registration deadline: 24 February 2022



Do you want to use illustration as an effective communication tool? Learn the essentials of design theory, drawing by hand and drawing digitally during this course.

Course Description

This full 5-day course will introduce the theory and method of how to visually represent your scientific research. Being able to translate complex research into information that can be understood by a wide range of audiences is an important skill that will help you throughout your career.

Communicating your work using different methods helps you to think about your work from different perspectives. Not only will this help you understand your own research better, but it will also give you the tools to be able to explain your work to others.

The skills you will learn in this course are highly transferable to any design project you may do in the future, including graphical abstracts, posters, presentation slides, illustrations for publication, infographics, and outreach material.

Through lectures and workshops, we will cover the following:

  • Concept Development: Which addresses how to take complex biological questions and distill this information into a coherent story, which can then be turned into an illustration.
  • Design Theory: Which helps us to understand how to create illustrations that work.
  • Poster and Slide Design Theory: Best practices geared specifically towards poster and slide presentations.
  • Sketching: Sketching exercises by hand using pencil and paper.
  • Digital Illustration: Beginner course in Adobe Illustrator or another vector illustration software.
  • Support and guidance: Through group peer-to-peer review and brainstorming sessions, and through personal reviews by the instructor.

By the end of the course, you will have practiced the theory and methods discussed in class by creating an illustration of your own research. Taking your ideas from conceptualization to final digital artwork.

Schedule for a full 5-day course

Day 1 – Learn vector digital illustration through video tutorials.

Day 2 – Learn concept development and complete brainstorming sketches by hand. Learn design theory and create refined sketches.

Day 3 – Continue to learn design theory and finish refined sketches. Start tracing sketches with vector-based software learnt on Day 1.

Day 4 – Personal work time to finish digital Illustrations.

Day 5 – Student presentations and submission of final digital illustrations and work-in-progress.

Requirements from the students

Students can expect up to 50 hours time commitment. This includes:

  • Scheduled hours to complete the course content (lectures, tutorials, etc.)
  • Time to complete assignments and exercises
  • Personal work time to complete final assignment
  • Submissions and presentations

Students are expected to participate in peer-to-peer review, watch lectures and tutorials, and complete exercises. At the end of the course, students are expected to submit their digital illustration and possibly present their illustrations to the class.

Students will need access to:

  • A laptop
  • Mouse
  • Headphones
  • Internet access
  • Vector illustration software (Adobe Illustrator, ext)

Students are expected to achieve the following:

  • Learn and apply design theory
  • Learn and practice how to sketch by hand
  • Learn and apply digital illustration with Adobe Illustrator or other vector software
  • Draw their own research from concept development to final digital illustration

The instructor`s Biography

Pina Kingman is a biomedical illustrator and animator whose work focuses on telling scientific stories in order to disseminate complex research and promote public awareness of science and medicine. She holds a BSc in Cell Biology and Genetics from the University of British Columbia and a MSc in Biomedical Communication from the University of Toronto.

Since 2016, Pina has held science illustration workshops and courses in partnership with various Norwegian Research Schools that focus on helping research scientists use illustration as a way to communicate their research.