Gill Brown started this Instagram account in 2017 during her initial collaboration with the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences and as part of her PhD research. She re-drew elements from scientific conceptual figures in order to learn the visual language used by the neuroscientists – see a more detailed explanation below.
Once Gill’s PhD research was complete – and after 800 (!) posts of re-drawn visual elements – the focus of the Instagram account changed to better showcase the wide-ranging work that Gill has undertaken in collaboration with the CNS. More details of that work are given on the main Collaboration webpage, with links from that page to completed and ongoing projects.
Gill continues to post from @graphicalsci about all things scientific visual communication and graphic design / illustration.
Re-drawing visual elements
At the beginning of her collaboration with the CNS, Gill collected existing conceptual figures from the specific fields of research of the neuroscientists and, with their help, identified the various visual elements (e.g., neurons, the blood-brain barrier, hypothalamic nuclei, olfactory nerves, etc.) that routinely make up these figures.
Re-drawing these elements for herself, using Adobe Illustrator, extracted them from their context and allowed Gill to create typologies that demonstrated their similarities and differences. This in turn showed Gill which features of each element were indicative – such as the overall shape of a neuron – and which were not – such as the colour of a neuron. She could then apply this knowledge when creating original visual elements for the neuroscientists to use in their own figures. Many of the blog posts on this website describe how visual elements are used when producing conceptual figures.
The typologies that Gill has created for each element can be seen on this portfolio page on her website. More details about how this collection of visual elements fits into Gill’s wider research can be found in this post on her website.