In Hand-drawn Structures, A Piece of Personality-UPDATED

UPDATED 1/16/2013: Thanks to Tony (@myarlak) for his strychnine drawing! UPDATED 12/11/2012: This entry has been sadly untended for a year now. I'm very late in posting this entry from @EnoNeal13 out in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Stationery is always a nice touch. UPDATED 9/22: A couple of new additions from professors- blogger extraordinaire Sciencegeist (Matt Hartings of American U.) and Greg Ferrence of Illinois State University. Ferrence, who teaches gen. chem., made sure to depict resonance forms. UPDATED: You readers (and Twitter followers) rock. You really do. I didn't expect such a great response in one day, but your lovingly hand-drawn structures are pouring in. Keep 'em coming. I'll be away the week of the 5th and expect a full inbox when I return. Special super-awesome bonus points go to Azmanam of Chemistry blog- he sent a video of himself drawing his structures. -- Chemjobber had an unexpectedly sweet shout-out to my recent Haystack post about anesthetics-- but CJ's focus was on the hand-drawn structures that I typically make to accompany blog posts:
A chemist's structures, while adhering to the "1996 ACS" Chemdraw style (or whatever it's called) cannot help but be a signature of sorts. I've written up Carmen's structures to show the differences (hers are a lot neater and some of my bond angles are funny.)
Drawing structures is one of the few things I do that connects my current job to my last (which would be organic chemistry grad student). I think CJ's right-- structure drawings carry an echo of personality. Just compare my own drawings to CJ's-- and to the ones submitted by SeeArrOh (via blog) and STEM_Wonk (via Twitter). If you agree-- if you think your renderings of molecules carry a little piece of you along with them, I would love to add your drawings to this little collection, to create a photo gallery akin to our chemistry t-shirt extravaganza or the incomparable Carl Zimmer's science tattoo emporium. Ideally, it'd be cool to see folks draw the same molecules for comparison. But I won't turn down drawings of other molecules if the muse particularly strikes you. I've posted a request to the Chemistry Reddit group. Send structures to me via Twitter, post a comment here in the blog, or email me

Author: Carmen Drahl

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  1. Of course drawing structures is a form of art, and I agree that such can bring out the personality of the scientists. I remember seeing Lewis’s hand drawn octets and thought them quite personal.

    On the other hand, I am a terrible artist and I only use programs like Chem Draw now. I am a theorist but I wanted to re-visit organic at one point and wrote an ebook with lots of mechanisms which are animated. As much as hand drawn structures are of interest, the multimedia lets me show how electrons move and bonds break and form. So like so much else, drawing structure is becoming a lost art.

  2. So I guess everyone has a stack of old literature articles (read or unread) lying around so that the backs of the pages can be used for scratch paper. Good, it’s not just me.

    Love the Hello Kitty notebook.

    Props to Paul for showing the P+/O- resonance structure of the phosphonic acid.

  3. I love this post.

    Also, I would like to advocate for people to cross their zeros, sevens, and Zs in order to distinguish them from Os, ones, and twos, respectively.

  4. Thanks for your continued support, folks! I love how people are trying a mix of structures, including chairs in homage to CJ’s recent post here. Also, Hello Kitty paper and a tablet-drawn set side by side? Gotta love it.

    Oh, and @Paul, my mom always crosses 7’s. I’ve inherited that habit but I do it b/c I like how it makes them look.

  5. @Paul, @CD – I didn’t learn to cross my 7’s until college, when I realized in P-Chem class that it was too confusing not to. Even now, I still get flack because my hydrogens look like “4”, my oxygens like “0”, and my sulfurs look like “5”.

    I wanted to point out, now that we have >20 structures, two things that jump out at me:
    1. Some people are ridiculously neat when they draw, and others seem to just put the structure on paper as quickly as they can (I’m in the latter camp, sadly)
    2. Benzene should be a standard size, but for some artists, it’s a tiny ring with huge alkyl chains, and for others, it’s the biggest thing in the structure, with tiny alkyl chains.

  6. I’m curious what my 5 year old granddaughter will ‘see’ when I show her Cinnamaldehyde’s post.
    I saw the chemical structures and couldn’t figure out what was on the pink paper at first.
    My guess will be that the Hello Kitty will jump out for my granddaughter.