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Illustrating Scientific Discoveries With Adobe Illustrator, Part 2

Bianca Williams

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Bianca Williams

Question and Answer from Illustrating Scientific Discoveries With Adobe Illustrator, Part 2. This webinar took place on Wednesday, August 30, 2023. To view the on demand recording please visit https://neuronline.sfn.org/professional-development/illustrating-scientific-discoveries-with-adobe-illustrator

1.       Hello! I was wondering what the difference was between CMYK and RGB, and why one might be preferred over another in different circumstances (poster, paper figures, ppt presentations, etc)?

RGB should be used for figures that will be viewed on a screen or projector (pptx, website), whereas CMYK should be used for figures that will be printed out (research papers, posters).

2.       How do you keep the text with the same font size when resizing a group of items? A common example is changing the size of a graph to fit a different page/panel proportion. When resizing, the font size also changes. How to avoid changes in font size?

There is no way to prevent this directly, but you can resize the text afterwards. Please see video Changing size of graphs in Adobe Illustrator.

3.       The guides are preventing me from selecting the rectangles... is there a way around this?

The guides won’t prevent you from selecting anything.  You may have the rectangles in the Layout layer which we locked.  Or, you may have the object selected but the guide lines are obscuring the highlight.  You can always hide the guides by going to the menu bar and clicking View>Guides>Hide Guides.

4.       If we need to use a template provided by our institution and it’s in ppt, how can we adapt it easily to illustrator?

Yes, open it in PowerPoint and save it as a pdf.  Then open the pdf in Adobe Illustrator.

5.       How did you make the protein sit inside the membrane?

Hold the Crtl button and keep pressing the “[“ key.  This moves it backward in the document until the object is position below the membrane layers.

6.       Can u combine a illustrator and photoshop image?

Yes, images can transfer back and forth between Photoshop and Illustrator.  However, you not be able to access to the individual components.  For example, pasting a Photoshop file into Illustrator will show as a single image as it would appear with all layers merged.

7.       What about to insert a trace?

See my video about transferring recordings to Adobe Illustrator.

8.       How to turn on the magenta "path" and "intercept" feature?

This should be activated by default.  If it is not, go to Edit>Preferences>Smart Guides and make sure the “Alignment Guides” and “Anchor/Path Labels” is activated.

9.       What about to insert a chart?

I don’t recommend using the chart or graphing tools in Adobe Illustrator except maybe the Pie chart tool.  I recommend making bar graphs and line graphs in Excel or Matlab or any other graphing program and pasting them into Illustrator.  Please see the following video Bar graph in Adobe Illustrator.

10.    How do you copy and paste figures and text from PPT or prism without changing the fonts and characters to symbols? Doesn’t seem compatible.

Saving the ppt as a pdf and then open the pdf in Illustrator. 

11.    Can you please review how you ‘sprayed’ the lipids across the curve you created?

I selected the lipid and dragged it into the brushes menu on the right.  If you are making a 2D membrane, use the pattern brush as in the video Simple lipid bilayer in Adobe Illustrator. If you are making a 3D membrane, use the scatter brush as in the video Cell membrane in Adobe Illustrator.

12.    Can I use ImageJ with Illustrator?

You can certainly make an image with ImageJ and the copy that image into Adobe Illustrator.  I don’t think there is any additional integration between the two software applications.


Helpful Links:


How to draw scale bars in Adobe Illustrator



Draw a mouse brain in Adobe Illustrator



Aligning objects in Adobe Illustrator



Transfer recording data into Adobe Illustrator



Changing size of graphs in Adobe Illustrator



Working with backgrounds in Adobe Illustrator


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