Drawing Your Own Conclusions
Over the years I have had many conversations with scientists about the need for a short course to help teach them to think visually through drawing and the principles of design, and I’ve been encouraged to find the response has always been positive.
In September 2014 Prof. Jané Kondev, Chair of Physics and of Quantitative Biology at Brandeis, invited me and Maddy Pikarsky, graphic designer and teacher, to run a course for 15 PhD students from a wide range of science disciplines. We designed the course to give the students an understanding of the basics of visual communication - to think like an artist - and how this could give them a fresh approach to making figures. The course has since been delivered at Caltech University, and is available to any group wishing to improve their ability and understanding of visual communication.
Our aim for the week is to help scientists take a fundamental design approach to producing their figures. We don’t expect to turn a scientist into an artist in one week, but what we can do is give some guidance on how to visually interpret their research and instil some confidence in expressing ideas through drawing.
“Drawing Your Own Conclusions” is an ideal, complementary studies course which will give students a grounding in the fundamentals of visual communication and establishes principles they can use for the rest of their scientific careers.
The course runs for 5 days and consists of a two-hour lecture each morning followed by a two-hour practical drawing workshop each afternoon. There is also a “Basics of Adobe Illustrator” course, divided into x4 one-hour sessions. The idea is to introduce some art and design context to the students and to begin to give them confidence in drawing with pencil and paper. The course is not designed to be a box of magic tricks but more a look at the fundamental concepts of visual communication.
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“ Working with Nigel has been one of the most productive and intellectually satisfying experiences in my life in science. Nigel is a wonderful artist who can turn even the most complex ideas into simple illustrations. But, what makes him truly exceptional is his ability to engage in the creative process with scientists like me. It usually starts with a glimmer of an idea about how to represent graphically a particular scientific idea. The final result is always surprising to me and has often lead me a to an even deeper appreciation of the science itself.”
Professor of Physics