In order to learn the visual language used by the neuroscientists at the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences, Gill collected existing conceptual figures from their specific fields of research. From these, she 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, allowed Gill to remove the elements from their original context and 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.
As Gill has amassed a large, and growing, collection of visual elements, she created a dedicated Instagram feed as a way of displaying the elements to anyone who is interested. It also shows that many of the elements are graphically interesting in their own right, even when stripped of their scientific context.
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.