1st Edition

Building Science Graphics An Illustrated Guide to Communicating Science through Diagrams and Visualizations

By Jen Christiansen Copyright 2023
    357 Pages 238 Color & 27 B/W Illustrations
    by A K Peters/CRC Press

    357 Pages 238 Color & 27 B/W Illustrations
    by A K Peters/CRC Press

    357 Pages 238 Color & 27 B/W Illustrations
    by A K Peters/CRC Press

    Building Science Graphics: An illustrated guide to communicating science through diagrams and visualizations is a practical guide for anyone—regardless of previous design experience and preferred drawing tools—interested in creating science-centric illustrated explanatory diagrams. Starting with a clear introduction to the concept of information graphics and their role in contemporary science communication, it then outlines a process for creating graphics using evidence-based design strategies. The heart of the book is composed of two step-by-step graphical worksheets, designed to help jump-start any new project. The author website, featuring further resources and links, can be found here: https://www.buildingsciencegraphics.com/. This is both a textbook and a practical reference for anyone that needs to convey scientific information in an illustrated form for articles, poster presentations, slide shows, press releases, blog posts, social media posts and beyond.

    Part 1. Underpinning.  1. Introduction.  2. What are Science Graphics. 3. Science Communication Fundamentals. 4. Graphic Design Fundamentals. 5. Perception Science. 6. Making Sense of Visual Complexity. 7. Organization and Emphasis. 8. Color. 9. Typography. 10. Visual Style. 11. Storytelling Strategies. 12. Practicalities. Part 2. Illustrating Science. 13. Special Considerations for Science Graphics. 14. Types of Science Graphics. Part 3. D.I.Y. (do it yourself). 15. The Process of Building Graphics. 16. Step-by-Step Guide for Building. 17. Step-by-Step Guide for Adapting. Part 4. Joint Efforts. 18. Collaborations.


    Jen Christiansen is a senior graphics editor at Scientific American, where she art directs and produces illustrated information graphics and data visualizations. She completed undergraduate studies in geology and art at Smith College, then happily merged the two disciplines in the scientific illustration graduate program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She began her publishing career in New York at Scientific American in 1996, moved to Washington DC to join the art department of National Geographic, spent four years as a freelance science communicator, then returned to Scientific American in 2007. She writes and presents on topics ranging from reconciling her love for art and science, to her quest to learn more about the pulsar chart on Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures album cover.

    "This book is a masterclass in the field of scientific visualization. Ms. Christiansen’s approach is insightful, approachable, thorough, and inclusive. There is something here for everyone, from the true novice to those who have been practicing scientific visualization for years. Each page is bursting with useful and interesting content. As an unsurprising bonus, the book’s design is a delight; it is a pleasure to read and peruse the images and layout. I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in what it takes to create visuals that effectively and beautifully communicate science."
    -- Jill K Gregory, MFA, CMI; President, Association of Medical Illustrators; Associate Director of Instructional Technology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

    "Much like a successful science graphic, Building Science Graphics delivers compelling information on many different levels. From quick tips to deep dives, Christiansen shares well researched, clear examples, as well as actionable workflows and memorable anecdotes from her career. A great read and valuable resource for designers and researchers alike."
    -- Beth Rakouskas, Creative Director, Science

    "Whenever Jen Christiansen was the art director for an article I was editing, I knew that no matter how imposing the illustrative challenge, she would find a visually stunning way to bring it to glorious, lucid life. In her hands, explanatory illustrations sing out a tale of discovery, one that inspires with the grace and elegance of its comprehension. With this marvellous book, Jen generously shares her approach to beautiful, informative design, and it does something I once wouldn’t have imagined was possible: It makes me appreciate and love her work even more."
    -- John Rennie, Deputy editor, Quanta Magazine; Former editor-in-chief, Scientific American; Adjunct instructor, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University.

    "This beautifully illustrated book is like a Swiss Army Knife— all the necessary tools of the trade are there, and they fit together seamlessly. Communicating science visually has unique challenges and considerations, which makes this book a must-read for creators of science visuals. The step-by-step approach is accessible to all levels, from students to researchers to professional artists and designers."
    -- Kelly Krause, Creative Director, Nature.

    "This book will help readers and practitioners understand how to apply design principles during the process of developing and producing information graphics for diverse audiences, and offers perspectives about the design processes employed by graphics editors."
    -- Spencer Barnes, Associate Professor, Hussman School of Journalism and Media, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    "I love this approach—it’s as methodical as good science. Breaking it down into manageable chunks is one thing, turning those chunks into an actual workflow is much more important and that is in here. Trying to find resources that go through a methodical approach to designing information graphics is difficult. Trying to find ones that go beyond basic charts and into in-depth illustrations is even harder."
    -- Mark E. Johnson, Senior lecturer, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia.

    "Working with scientists and researchers myself, one of the many questions I get asked is where and how to start—this book will help to answer some of those questions and concerns. The fact that it is written by Jen Christiansen adds real value. The book is explained in a cohesive and logical way. This will allow the reader to follow the process, as you would for real, building an infographic from scratch—step-by-step."
    -- Nigel Hawtin, information design consultant; former Graphics Editor, New Scientist.

    "Jen Christiansen’s book is a compelling resource with helpful visual strategies and suggestions to create effective scientific illustrated explanatory diagrams. The extended step-by-step visual worksheets are must-haves for both expert and non-specialist audiences interested in visually communicating science. Her clarity and level of detail to articulate each step combined with her specialized guidance on how to work with design principles make this book one of its kind."
    --Sheila Pontis, Sense Information Design, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

    "The book provides a practical guide targeted at individuals without an explicit art/design background and tailored towards the need of science communication. I consider this a very worthwhile endeavor and believe that many scientists (including my graduate students and myself) will draw considerable utility from this book."
    --Stefan Bruckner, Professor of visualization, Department of Informatics of the University of Bergen.

    "Meticulously written and intricately designed... Building Science Graphics will be most valuable in education establishments. It should be on the reading list of every science communication MSc and every communication design BA course.”
    -- Book Review, Eye Magazine, 14 December, 2023

    "An excellent resource for scientific illustration students, scientists who want to improve their visual-creation skills, and science communication enthusiasts. It would make an excellent introductory textbook for any visual science communication or illustration course/program, and it certainly belongs in the library of any sci-artist."
    -- Book Review, Journal of Natural Science Illustration, Vol. 55, No. 2

    "Building Science Graphics is a very clear and accessible guide to visual science communication that still honours the complexity of this field."
    -- Book Review, Journal of Science Communication, 22 (05)

    "Many of the ideas and frameworks are applicable to data visualization. I especially recommend this book as a resource to anyone in the field of science communication—it’s a very comprehensive guide with beautiful examples and clear guidance from an author whose expertise clearly comes through along with her deep reflections on design, process, and the field as a whole."
    -- Book Review, Nightingale Magazine, February 16, 2023