I work at university. Our department has a student's day, where we all show posters presenting our research. Of course, the poster isn't supposed to be text-only. But we have to take care of any illustrations ourselves.

I don't have a tangible research subject suitable for taking a photography or a screenshot, so I decided to draw a representation of how the abstract concept works. But I wanted to make it visually more varied than just the labelled bubbles in powerpoint. It is about making better software by taking the users' personal values in account. The result is here:


The text says "Stimulation [minded physicians] want to also see risky therapy options [in their decision-support software]". It is explained in more depth in the text of the poster.

Now my boss is not quite happy with the drawing. She objects to the third pictogram in the second "application screen". To her, it looks like a drill. I wanted it to look like a cartoon ray gun, because that would be consistent with the idea of "new-fangled" and "risky", and will introduce a hint of humour into the quite dry poster. I hoped that even if nobody recognized it as a ray gun per se, people will still connect the shape with a sci fi prop.

Now I don't know if I did such a bad job of drawing or if my prof just doesn't recognize something which would be obvious to every student (she doesn't watch/read sci fi). Any ideas how to improve the drawing? Or maybe a suggestion for some other shape which will work at this place, instead of the ray gun?

  • Did you explain what it was and what it was meant to picture?
    – Kyle
    Jun 25, 2011 at 12:58
  • 2
    (Oh, that's a physician! I thought it was a cartoon-like creature sideways—only right eye and right arm visible, gazing 45° up. :-D) Jun 26, 2011 at 10:16

2 Answers 2

  1. Yep, that's a drill.
  2. A ray gun is not "newfangled and risky." It's either "dangerous assault from outsiders" or "futuristic protection against dangerous assault." I am a Trekkie. Trust me on this.

"Science" would be represented by a beaker or a flask. What about a beaker with a question mark in it?

  • Thank you very much. I was afraid that a simple beaker with a question mark looks like "get his lab results", but the idea was really helpful, I used it for the final version - see my answer for it.
    – rumtscho
    Jul 5, 2011 at 19:46

With Laurem Ipsum's input, I could create a picture which is at least medical (probably not inherently dangerous, but I am happy to get so far as a newbie). Plus, it was decided that a poster should have an eyecatcher, instead of black lines and black text on white. So here is the final gaudy version. (at least I could resist the idea for a psychodelically colored pie chart).

the final image

  • that's excellent. I think that expresses your text pretty clearly. Nice job! Jul 5, 2011 at 20:57

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