'Pic' up your game - How to make those figures rock your science




23-26 September


Registration is closed

Figure submission deadline (after confirmation of participation): 23 August
20 places available. Members of Digital Life Norway Research School will be prioritized.

Communication is key - and science is no exception. We can communicate our research via written words, sounds, and visuals. Since a picture gets processed 60.000 times faster than written words, the use of visuals is the most effective way of making your audience understand your message - whether it is an oral presentation, poster, or a paper. But due to the limitations of the human attention span, your message needs to to be presented clearly and efficiently, otherwise you might lose your audience. This course aims to teach scientists how to create better figures, thereby catching the attention of your audience, and consequently increasing the impact of your research.


The course will contain a mixture of practical sessions, working on your own figures/poster, and lectures. Prior to the course, all participants must submit a self-made figure/poster, as you will work on your figures/posters during the course (closer instructions on format to come soon). The programs used to create figures will be announced later, and all participants must make sure the programs are working on their laptops prior to the course.

The following aspects will be covered:
  • The importance of visual research dissemination 
  • How our attention works 
  • Clear and effective illustrations 
  • Creative processes, including how to get started with drawing 
  • Design theory 
  • Making illustrations and figures 
  • Tools for designing visuals
  • Statistics 
  • Data visualizations 
  • Graph and table design 
  • Illustrations for scientific papers: workflows, making method schemes, etc.
  • Making your own drawings 
  • Visual abstracts 
  • Typography
  • Images
  • Images and copyright 
  • Text in illustrations/images 
  • Images in illustrations  
  • Poster design: Font, graphics, interplay, how to set up a basic poster
  • Slide design


Saara-Maria Kauppi is a PhD student in design, studying how design can be used in order to make us eat more insects. She is a graphic designer and has specialized on information visualizations. 

Ole E. Wattne is an experienced teacher and former study program leader of the Bachelor in graphic design at Department of Design.

Ole Andreas Alsos is Head of Department at Department of Design. He has coached NTNU’s participants in Researcher Grand Prix, and held a large number of talks, courses, and workshops about visual research dissemination.

Thomas Nordby is an experienced and awarded illustrator, designer, and design teacher, currently holding a position as PhD student at Department of Design. 

Ann Kristin Forshaug is an experienced service designer, currently doing her PhD on how to visualize services and processes. 

Eivind Arnstein Johansen is an assistant professor at the Department of Design, with an expertise in design tools, such as Adobe Illustrator, Indesign and Photoshop.

Ole Lund is an expert on typography and how to communicate with text, and holds an associate professor position at Department of Design. 

Stian Lydersen is professor of medical statistics, at Faculty of Medicine and Health sciences, NTNU. He has co-authored two textbooks in statistics, authored or co-authored 250 publications in peer-reviewed journals, and has carried out statistical review of about 400 manuscripts to statistical journals.

Practical matters


The course will start at 9:00 and end at 17:00 all days. 

Examination and workload

The course aims to give 5 ECTS. All confirmed participants must submit a self-made figure/poster, as you will use these during the course. As a home exam, you will be asked to hand in a new figure within two weeks after the course. You will receive your course certificate upon approval of the home exam.


Digital Life Norway Research School will cover all costs related to travel and accommodation for our members - remember to apply for a travel grant in advance!


Course organizers: Christian Schulz and Lisa Tietze

Research school coordinator: Liv E. Falkenberg

Published Oct. 12, 2020 4:00 PM - Last modified Nov. 10, 2020 1:14 PM