8 June 2017

Scientists Find Clouds full of Lollipop-Shaped Crystals

Posted by Shane Hanlon

This post is part of our Drawn to Geoscience series where our own JoAnna Wendel creates (and explains her process for) comics of geoscience research.

Hoo boy, this was a toughy! When I heard the words “ice lolly” I thought, oh this will be a fun one to draw! Turns out, drawing the mechanism by which teeny tiny ice crystals form in a cloud is harder than I thought—as usual. Like with the geyser comic, it really came down to showing movement. There are several processes by which these lollipop-shaped ice crystals form, and I wish I could have animated them.

At first, I managed to get the process down to 3 distinct steps and allocated a panel to each step. But then I realized that the reader would have no sense of scale or of orientation—where was each step of the process taking place? So I added a panel that showed where the types of crystals were forming to give the reader a big-picture view. Everything else was pretty straight forward.

The comic didn’t necessarily need the “dramatic reenactment” section for science reasons, but it was the first thing I thought of when I started the research for this comic and I thought it was funny. And who doesn’t like to read about anthropomorphized ice crystals slamming into each other and being friends forever, right? Also, there’s a lot of discussion about the value of humor in science communication, so I like to use humor to help readers connect with the science.

JoAnna Wendel is an Eos Staff Writer. Find her @JoAnnaScience.