Universal readable


Openly accessible

Flexible for broad use

Accurate and accessible scientific visualisation and illustration

What makes a good science figure?

A good science figure is accurate, clear, free to use, and – first and foremost – universally readable (also by colour-blind people).

How do I know the colours in my figure are accessible?

The easiest test for accessibility is to make sure it is readable also in black & white after fully desaturating its colours.

How do I know my figure is accessible?

Ensure that all text is clearly readable by setting the font size large enough, choosing a clear sans-serif typeface, avoid low contrast between visual elements, and choose colour-blind friendly colour combinations (see Crameri et al., 2022).

How do I accurately visualise data onto a map?

Use a science-proof colour scale that has a perceptually uniform colour gradient, such as the Scientific colour maps.

How do I spot a bad colour map?

A clearly uneven colour gradient in a colour scale is a clear sign of a bad colour map that distorts data visually. The accessibility can be easily tested by submitting the figure to a colour-vision deficiency simulation, such as Coblis.

Making good science figures is no easy task. Even though it is one of the fundamental and most widely used scientific methodologies, scientific visualisation is not yet broadly taught at universities. Moreover, financial funding for graphical aspects of research, or even employing professionals, is rarely granted. Most scientist therefore struggle to produce good science figures that are clear, high-quality, and accessible. It is important to the s-Ink team to not just provide high-quality science graphics, but also to spread awareness and, hopefully, even deepen basic visualisation skills amongst members of the science community.

Below are a few basic, but key aspects to keep in mind when creating science figures. A more detailed overview is provided in Crameri, F., G.E. Shephard, and E.O. Straume (2022, Pre-print), The open collection of geoscience graphics, EarthArXiv, https://doi.org/10.31223/X51P78

Not all see the same.

That is why we aim to provide graphics that are readable also by people with any form of colour-vision deficiency (CVD).

Common appearance ⟷ Deuteranopia appearance

Some print it in B&W.

That is why we aim to provide graphics that are readable also after they have been printed in black&white.

Plate age shown in the batlow colour gradient by Fabio Crameri.
Colour appearance ⟷ B&W appearance

Background matters.

That is why we aim to provide graphics that are either suitable, or have different versions, for both light and dark backgrounds.

Plate age shown in the batlow colour gradient by Fabio Crameri.
Light-background version ⟷ Dark-background version

The example figure (available from s-ink.org/ocean-plate-age) is showing the ocean-plate age using the Scientific colour map batlow (Crameri 2018) on a custom Interrupted Mollweide map projection from Crameri et al. (2020).

Open-access tools to create good science figures

Scientific colour maps

Perceptually uniform, colour-vision deficiency friendly colour palettes.


Fully automated effective plot design and image file creation for MatLab.


Advanced colour image inversion tool for MatLab.


A flexible visualisation and mapping toolbox.

Professional graphic design


Scientific graphic design support to elevate and communicate your research.

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