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Scientific illustration techniques for publication and communication

The course is aimed at scientific personnel who wish to become more proficient in illustration tools, illustration concepts and visual communication techniques. The focus lies on preparation of illustrations, photos and montages for publication and/or for presentations but will also cover aspects on visual and verbal communication strategies.

The course will be two plus two full days and focus around tools and techniques suitable for generation of high quality scientific illustrations. Examples will be conducted using the Abobe Creative Suite 6 software package with a focus on Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat Professional, but the principles and tips will be broadly applicable. No prior experience in these specific software tools is required.

The course will contain a mix of lectures and case studies, but also personal hands on work.

Course dates

The course will be given in the Segerfalk Lecture hall of the Wallenberg Neuroscience Center (directions found here) on October 21-22 and 28-29 between 9.30 and 16.00 each day. 

Goals with the course

At the end of the course you should have improved knowledge in:

  • How a digital image is constructed and differences between file formats
  • How and when to use Illustrator and InDesign in generation of illustrations and data/photo montages
  • How a vector-based illustration is constructed and how to preserve the quality throughout the workflow
  • How to prepare your illustrations for on line submission to a journal to improve the final quality
  • How to work with PDF files for data import into Illustrator and for utilization in scientific communication

Course language

The entire course will be held in English

Course accreditation

The entire course will give 2.0 higher education credits. 


Session 1 | Introduction & Imaging fundamentals

Included topics:

  •  Color space and resolution
  •  Vector graphics, fundamental principles
  •  Adobe Creative Suite and your workflow
  •  The right application for the job, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and Acrobat
  •  Bézier curves
  •  Geometric primitives and the pathfinder

Session 2 | Introduction to the home assignments

Included topics:

  • Introduction to the home assignments
  • Installation of CS6
  • Tips & tools

Session 3 | Digging deeper into Illustrator and InDesign part I

Included topics:

Case study: Getting your scientific data into Illustrator

Case study: Generating a new illustration from scratch

Session 4 | Special guest!

Session 5 | Digging deeper into Illustrator and InDesign part II

Included topics:

  • The alignment and transformation toolboxes
  • Case study: Generating a multi-panel photo/graphics montage
  • Managing Transparency in Illustrator
  • Case study: Preparing figures for a presentation

Session 6 | Getting your message out, printing and submission

Included topics: 

  • Case study: Preparing Illustrations and photos for journal submission
  • Taking your illustrations one step further with gradients, transparency and beyond
  • Case study: Preparing a poster in InDesign