Learn to draw in Illustrator: by scientists for scientists

The Online Course
with Dr Juan Miguel Balbin

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Equip yourself with the skills to create your own vector-style scientific illustrations using the industry’s gold-standard software.

This is an online course aimed at complete beginners!

Why an Adobe Illustrator course?

Researchers often need diagrams to visualise the ideas behind their work. Whether it’s Figure 6b on your next big manuscript, or that summary schematic for your conference poster or grant proposal; having a key visual can help immensely to demystify complex information.


But creating an illustration might be unfamiliar territory for many researchers, especially for those with limited art experience. So, where could you begin?


Join Dr Juan Miguel Balbin, project manager & science communicator at Animate Your Science, as he takes you through the fundamentals of vector illustration in Adobe Illustrator for research purposes.

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From drawing cell models to creating your very own 3D solar system, you will learn to use the right tools to help you turn your abstract research ideas into stunning visuals that are clear, informative, and fit-for-purpose!


So wave your final goodbyes to PowerPoint diagrams.


It’s time for the next level up in Adobe Illustrator!


*To follow the tutorials, this course requires you to have your own license** of Adobe Illustrator. All tutorials are based on the 2022 version of the software.


**7 Day Trials are available on the Adobe website for keen learners who wish to complete this course within a week.

Your Transformation


Being unfamiliar with digital art formats


Having a comprehensive knowledge of vector illustration


Plain, old, boring PowerPoint-style diagrams


Clean, sleek, professional Illustrator schematics


Taking hours to create simple diagrams


Taking minutes to create polished works of vector art

Course Outline

30 video lessons | 3.5 hours of learning | exercises & downloads

Module 1: Course introduction

1.1 Meet your instructor

1.2 Software and course overview


Module 2: Understanding graphic design

2.1 Graphic design in your research outputs

2.2 What’s the difference between raster and vector graphics?


Module 3: Fundamental tools in Adobe Illustrator

3.1 Setting up your workspace

3.2 Using the Selection Tools

3.3 Drawing with the Pen Tool

3.4 Drawing with the Pencil Tool

3.5 Applying colour using Swatches and the Eyedropper Tool

3.6 Adding text using the Type Tool

3.7 Exploring the Shapes Tools

3.8 Organise your workspace using Layers

3.9 Combine vectors using the Shape Builder Tool and Pathfinder

3.10 Applying basic Effects


Module 4: Fundamental exercises

4.1 Creating the Rutherford atomic model

4.2 Creating a eukaryotic cell model

4.3 Creating a micropipette

Module 5: Intermediate tools in Adobe Illustrator

5.1 Editing existing vectors

5.2 Levelling up your colouring skills using Gradients

5.3 Writing on outlines using the Type on a Path Tool

5.4 Cropping and clipping objects

5.5 Overview of new 3D and Materials panel (2022+ exclusive)

Module 6: Intermediate exercises

6.1 Creating a 3D solar system

6.2 Creating a red blood cell with gradients


Module 7: Working with images

7.1 Embedding and importing images

7.2 Vectorise any image using Image Trace


Module 8: Graphical abstracts & scientific posters

8.1 Introduction to graphical abstracts

8.2 Creating a graphical abstract template

8.3 Introduction to scientific posters

8.4 Creating a scientific poster template


Closing + extras

9.1 That’s a wrap!

9.2 Bonus downloadable exercises

  • Human heart

  • Lifecycle of the jellyfish

  • Radioactive waste barrel

  • 3D methane molecule

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About Your Instructor

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Hey there! I’m Dr Juan Miguel Balbin (call me Miguel), project manager, science communicator, molecular biologist, and graphic designer. At the communications agency Animate Your Science, I help researchers to visually represent their work through our animations and custom graphics services.


I've been using Adobe Illustrator since 2012 as my software of choice for creating all kinds of digital art. More recently, I was able to apply my graphic design skills during my time as a malaria researcher (PhD, 2018-2021) to explain my work in my own creative ways.


After presenting my design work to my field, my Illustrator skills started gaining a lot of unexpected attention. From that point onward, I found myself collaborating with other researchers who needed an illustrator to visually explain complex concepts.


That's when I knew that graphic design skills needed a place in academic training.


I'm excited to share my knowledge in graphic design so that more researchers can confidently create great scientific illustrations for themselves.


So what are you waiting for? Let's get creative!


About our Custom Graphics services which also uses Adobe Illustrator!

"Very detailed and comprehensive process, from initial contact, to planning, to revisions, to finished product. The staff can both develop concepts independently or enhance your ideas. Very good at working within stylistic constraints that you (your agency, company, etc.) may have, such as visual identity guidelines and protocols. The Director and staff have a scientific backgrounds, so they understand what is required to distil and clearly convey information of scientific nature to a lay- or informed-public audience. Video and email communications and task work were quick and professional. Highly recommended."

Mark Mihalasky

International Atomic Energy Agency

”I worked with Animate Your Science to create scientific posters for my work and they were super efficient and delivered great quality posters. Highly recommended!"

Monique Marques


"Tullio and the team at Animate Your Science were very communicative, asking questions and setting up meetings along the way to make sure they got our lab's information correct and were able to turn it into an infographic that accurately and concisely portrayed our research process. A talented group of science communicators and designers, I highly suggest working with them to communicate your next science project!"

Ellie Jones

Arizona State University

🥈 Essential

 1 Year Online Course Access 
+ Bonus exercises


$99 USD 

one time purchase

Coming Soon
  • One year access to the online course “Learn to draw in Illustrator: by scientists for scientists”

  • Adobe Illustrator tools overview PDF

  • Adobe Illustrator keyboard shortcuts PDF

  • Certificate of completion

  • Bonus exercises following the completion of the course

🥇 Premium

Lifetime Online Course Access
+ Individualised feedback
+ Community access


$149 USD

one time purchase

Coming Soon

You’ll get everything in Essential, plus:

  • Lifetime access to the online course “Learn to draw in Illustrator: by scientists to scientists”

  • Lifetime access to the AYS Visual Science Community where you’ll be able to ask questions, share your wins and get inspired by other students

  • Individualised feedback for artwork you create from the course exercises, bonus exercises, or original scientific artwork created in Adobe Illustrator

🎓 Institution

Fully customisable to the needs
of your students and staff


Bulk discounts available

You’ll get everything in Essential or Premium 

  • Optionals

    • Group poster feedback sessions 

    • Bundles with our other courses and workshops


Our satisfied clients

Money Back Guarantee


We are so confident in our content that if, for any reason, you are not satisfied with the course, we offer a 100% money back guarantee.

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