Scientific illustration workshop

During Easter (2017) I joined the scientific illustration workshop organized by Illustraciencia in the Natural Sciences Museum of Madrid.

We had one week of theory and practice with Clara Cerviño, the teacher, and Miquel Baidal, the founder of Illustraciencia. Check out Clara’s website (she is very talented!) and Illustraciencia website as well.

We addressed the process of drawing a scientific illustration, which are the best practices at each step, and how to choose the right technique for each commission.




Hand drawn with pencils.
Coloured with Photoshop.

Project for the “Illustration for the Natural Sciences” course in 2014. We had to choose a plant or animal and show all the steps from sketching to digital colouring. Both drawings are A4 size.

The beginning

You might wonder how a scientist, at some point in her career, decides turn her interests into illustration and graphic design. Right at the end of my PhD I was confused on how to proceed, professionally speaking. I was sure about not doing a postdoc, but… what to do then? The answer did not come straightforward. However, several things happened during and after my doctoral studies that help me reconsider my professional path, some of them may seem small details, but they are worth mentioning:

(a) I became more aware that I explain myself much better when I draw what I am telling.

(b) On my very first day of work, I was given Illustrator to work with. I ended up using it most of the time during my four years of PhD, and those where the moments I enjoyed most.

(c) I enrolled on a course on scientific illustration (2014).

(d) I had the opportunity to join several congresses and help in the organization of two of them – European Geosciences Union Annual Meeting in 2014 and 2015.

(e) I was invited to give a talk about Per Kirkeby and his art work (November 2016). Per Kirkeby is an painter, sculptor, and poet among others. And a geologist. Greenland is his main source of inspiration, where I did my field work.

(f) I enrolled on a graphic design specialization (February 2016).

(g) I got a set of watercolours for my birthday (December 2016).

(h) By the end of last summer (2016) I started a 108-days art journey. I was inspired by an acquaintance, who did a similar thing few years ago. The art journey was about drawing something every day in a 10 x 10 cm paper square. The drawing of this post is the very first square and the beginning of the art journey.

(i) I really love nature, since I was a kid.

By the end of 2016 and early 2017 I felt the clear call towards illustration and graphic design applied to science.