Visual elements for a dopamine synthesis figure

Following the meeting with Barbara and Mattia, described in this blog post, Gill collected examples of the visual elements that would be need to construct a conceptual figure describing dopamine synthesis. Based on these, she drew initial representations of five elements:

  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Presynaptic bouton, with synaptic vesicles
  • Postsynaptic bouton, with synaptic cleft
  • Dopamine receptors
  • Dopamine molecules

These elements are shown from left to right in the header image for this blog post. As colour is not indicative for any of the images, the elements were created in greyscale only at this stage, to allow Barbara and Mattia to choose the colours they wish to use in their final figure.

Although the individual visual elements that make up the figure are relatively simple, the figure itself will have to contain a lot of detailed information, in the form of text and annotation. Gill drew three possible arrangements of the visual elements, to ascertain which would give the best layout to include this additional information, and these are shown below:


Taking version 1, shown top right, Gill then added as much text and annotation as she confidently could, based on the existing figures that Barbara and Mattia had supplied. The resulting ‘figure 1’ is shown below. To preserve the confidentiality of the figure, the text has been replaced by black boxes for the purposes of this blog, but this still demonstrates how just how much information the figure will have to communicate to a reader. Ensuring that the figure can be easily read and understood will be the main challenge during its construction.


Gill sent this figure (with text), and the versions shown above, to Barbara and Mattia for them to review, and a meeting has been scheduled for 19th July 2018 to go through the construction of the figure. Before that date, Gill will provide Adobe Illustrator files of the figures that can be edited and adapted during the meeting to construct the final figure. She will also provide an updated guide to using Illustrator to create a conceptual figures, particularly the use of layers. Each of the visual elements in the figure above has been drawn on a separate layer in the software, as have the annotation and text, which should allow the figure to be easily changed.

The outcome of the 19th July meeting will be described in a future blog post.

3 Replies to “Visual elements for a dopamine synthesis figure”

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