Workshops (2022)

A series of graphic design workshops for member of the King’s Health Faculties, presented online, were held by Gill Brown throughout March 2022. Additional workshops, hopefully conducted in-person, may be scheduled for the 2022/23 academic year, if there is sufficient demand. There are still some people on waiting lists from the March 2022 Workshop 2 sessions and the hope is to give these people the chance to attend a workshop at some point.

Review of the March 2022 graphic design workshops

Following on from the workshops presented through 2020 and 2021, the training material was updated for 2022 and the workshops were slightly revised, based both on feedback from previous sessions and the restrictions of online teaching. The March 2022 series consisted of two workshops:

  • Workshop 1: A one-hour presentation, covering good graphic design practice for scientific visual communication. Up to 50 participants can attend via Zoom.
  • Workshop 2: A two-hour practical session, giving participants hands-on experience of creating adaptable and editable scientific figures using Adobe Illustrator software. Attendance is limited to a maximum of 12 online participants, to give everyone a chance to ask questions and receive 1-to-1 attention.

Workshop 1 can be attended as a standalone session, with no obligation to attend Workshop 2. However, participants in Workshop 2 will benefit from having attended Workshop 1. Workshop 2 is repeated three times, to allow as many participants from Workshop 1 to attend as possible.

The King’s E-learning and Training Service (KEATS) webpage associated with the workshops contains earlier versions of the workshop presentations (recorded during April 2020), that participants can watch. These recorded presentations do not contain all of the examples shown in the live workshops, but they do cover all of the main points. From the KEATS webpage, participants can also access all of the files they need for the workshops, particularly for Workshop 2.

Workshop 1 – Good Graphic Design Practice

A presentation to demonstrate the basics of good graphic design practice, when creating figures, slides, posters, etc. The guidance is relevant to all types of scientific figures, including conceptual figures, data figures, infographics and graphical abstracts. The presentation covers:

  • Layout and composition
  • Grids, alignment and use of space
  • Type and typography
  • Use of colour
  • A case study – to demonstrate how the application of five simple graphic design tips can improve the visual communication of a typical scientific conceptual figure.

Design guidelines that are followed by King’s (slide and poster templates, colour palettes and standard fonts) are incorporated into the workshop material. Numerous examples from Gill’s work with the IoPPN, together with example figures and posters from participants in earlier workshops, are also included throughout the presentation.

From the KEATS webpage, participants can download a pdf file that summarises the main points of the presentation.

Workshop 2 – Building Figures from Visual Elements

A presentation to introduce the participants to the concept of visual elements and their use in a methodical approach to creating scientific figures. This approach utilises the ‘Layer’ functionality in Adobe Illustrator software and allows scientists to more easily create, edit and adapt their own figures. Prior to the workshop, participants are strongly encouraged to send Gill example figures used in their fields of research. These can be incorporated into the training material, to make the workshop as relevant as possible for participants.

The introductory presentation is followed by a practical session, where participants will get experience of using Adobe Illustrator software for themselves. Two hands-on exercises, comprising a series of tasks, have been designed to use all of the basic functionality in the software:

  • Exercise 1 – participants are provided with an example Adobe Illustrator file, containing an illustration made up of many layers, that they can edit and adapt.
  • Exercise 2 – participants draw an illustration from scratch, using a supplied image file as a guide.

Prior to the workshop, participants should download ten Adobe Illustrator guides (as pdf files) from the KEATS webpage. These have been specifically written to provide step-by-step instructions on all of the functionality that is used in the exercises. Participants should also download the files that are to be used in the exercises, together with a one-page pdf file of Illustrator tips.

Gill demonstrates some of the trickier exercise tasks live in the workshop and answers any questions. Once participants have completed the exercises, they are encouraged to work on their own visual elements and figures. If example figures have been provided to Gill prior to the workshop, Illustrator files created for these figures can be supplied to participants as a starting point for them to work with.

Included on the KEATS webpage is a recorded presentation of Gill completing both of the Illustrator exercises, and talking through the software functionality, which participants can either watch prior to the workshop, or review afterwards as a refresher. This presentation was recorded in April 2020 and references the CC2020 version of Adobe Illustrator. The software has been updated slightly since then, but the basic functionality shown has not changed.

Participants can download a free 7-day trial version of Illustrator from the Adobe website to use in Workshop 2. The participants will not become Illustrator experts in just 2 hours but they will use all of the functionality needed to create scientific figures, and should get a feel for whether this method of creating figures will be useful to them in their own research work.

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