Handouts and resources for the Adobe Illustrator tutorial

Adobe Illustrator Workshop 2019

Showcase your science with polished graphics 🌟

Handouts and resources for the Adobe Illustrator tutorial

Adobe Illustrator Workshop 2019

Showcase your science with polished graphics 🌟


Several times a year, I instruct an Adobe Illustrator course with the needs of scientists specifically in mind. Course materials can be found in the downloads. An approximate schedule is also provided below.

Tutorial Downloads

Workshop Schedule

Session 1: Basics

  • How to make a poster, assuming you already have all the graphs and cartoons to include.
  • Pre-requisites: No previous knowledge of the software required; Adobe Illustrator installed on laptop (IT can do it)

1: Using the workspace (10 minutes) – 10:00am – 10:10am

Exploring the interface
Setting up an artboard
Opening a file (embedding and linking)
Zooming and scrolling
Tools (arrows, anchor points)

2: Learning essential skills (10 minutes) – 10:10am-10:20am

Using the shape tools
Repositioning and resizing shapes
The Transform panel
Entering exact dimensions
Cutting and pasting objects
Using clipping masks

3: Colors (10 minutes) – 10:20am-10:30am

Line weights
Changing colors
Using color picker
Choosing color palettes (online)

4: Adding and formatting text (15 minutes) – 10:30am-10:45am

Formatting text
Paragraph formatting
Using paragraph and character styles
Editing styles
Putting text on a path
Warping text
Putting text in a shape
Creating outlines
Checking spelling
Using Find and Replace

5: The Layout (5 minutes) – 10:45am-10:50am

Aligning and Grouping
Arrange (Front back)

BREAK (10 minutes)

6: Importing different kind of data (10 minutes) – 11:00am-11:10am

Deconstruction of given AI file

Exercise (30 minutes) – 11:10am-11:40am

Build a poster with our files (Dropbox)

7: Saving (10 minutes) – 11:40am-11:50am

Linking files

Session 2: Advanced

  • How to design a figure (for posters, presentations, publications).
  • Pre-requisites: Adobe Illustrator installed on laptop; Basic knowledge of the topics covered in Session I; Mouse preferred

1: Using drawing tools

1a: Using the Line and Pencil tools (10 minutes) – 10:00am-10:10am

Working with Image Trace
Using the pencil tool
Using the smooth tool

1b: Understanding the Pen tool (15 minutes) – 10:00am-10:15am

Straight, curved and hinged lines
Editing existing paths
Adding and removing points
Cutting and joining paths

1c: Creating a brush (5 minutes) – 10:15am-10:20am

Exercise: Trace something [receptor, brain, etc.] (15 minutes) – End at 10:35am

Locking layers
Adding transparency

2: Additional color options (15 minutes) – 10:35am-10:50am

Adding a gradients
Using the Gradient panel
(Mesh tool)

BREAK (10 minutes) – 10:50am-11:00am


Examples from science
Exercise: discuss how to re-make an image in groups

Useful resources

Libraries of graphics:


Color palette resources:


Visual review of color theory in design:


Suggested font sizes for academic posters:

Title (top, centered): 85pt (45-130pt range)
Author line (second line, centered): 36-44pt font
Body text: 24-34pt font

Jonathan Ipsaro
Senior Scientist, Structural Biology

Biochemist with a penchant for integrated structural, biophysical, and computational methods.