Applying design principles to schematic figures

Full day course (8 hours), designed for 10 participants, with some flexibility

You can book a place on one of our pre-planned courses using the link on the right.

For a course just for your institute, please contact us here.


TRAINER: Sandra Krahl


Who is this workshop is for

For scientists, it is becoming increasingly important to communicate research to different audiences in clear and compelling ways. Visual representations of new knowledge, like schematic figures, can help both to communicate research findings and attract readers browsing busy journal sites and social media,. In order to create a clear and attractive schematic figure, it is important to understand the underlying design principles that make the visual representation of information successful. In this workshop, participants will learn what design is and how to apply design principles to create their own compelling figures.

What participants will learn in the workshop

Throughout the workshop, participants will practice what they are learning in a total of 4 exercises. This is critical both to their engagement and to the long-term retention of the ideas they are discovering. During the exercises participants draw with marker pens on large sheets of white paper (flip chart size). This means that knowledge of applications like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop is not necessary and participants can instead focus on design principles that can be applied using any tool (digital or otherwise) that they choose. Laptops are only needed if participants want to look up information about their own work for the exercise in the second half of the workshop.


Course Schedule I: FULL DAY

Includes 20 minute coffee breaks in the morning and afternoon and 1 hour for lunch. We will work from 09:00 to approx. 17:30.

MORNING (3 hours)

30 mins

Welcome, Introduction, Warming up

The course begins with a creative introduction round. I will explain what the course is about. We will explore what a schematic figure is and where it can be used.

15 mins

What is design and what it can do for you as a scientist

I give an overview of what design is and why story telling in design is important.

15 mins

How to conceptualise a schematic figure

In this section I show how one can turn research results/a research story into a compelling concept for a schematic figure. I explain techniques for structuring and laying out information.

20 mins

Practical Exercise

Participants write down the storyline for an existing schematic figure.

70 mins

Practical Exercise

Participants then apply the techniques to create a concept and sketch a schematic figure.

10 mins

Tools and techniques to design and draw a figure

I show and explain design tools (size of graphic elements, typography, colour), which help create legible and engaging schematic figures.

AFTERNOON (4 hours 20 minutes)

165 mins

Practical Exercise

Participants will apply what they have learned in the first half of the workshop and conceptualise and draw a schematic figure for their own work. Participants will then present what they have created and will receive detailed, constructive feedback from both me and their peers.

10 mins


Participants will learn how to choose a font and how to use it.

20 mins

Media channels – what to keep in mind when designing for different media

I explain what to keep in mind when designing a schematic figure for print, the web or Microsoft Office applications like PowerPoint.

15 mins

Tips and Tricks – fine tuning

I present insights I have gained over more than a decade of working in graphic design that I use regularly to fine tune illustrations and take them to the next level.

30 mins


I answer any last questions and we close the course.