Meet the Terpenes: A Visual Introduction from Isoprene to Latex

Inspiration for Meet the Terpenes came from the rhetological fallacies graphic over at Information is Beautiful, while motivation came from a 45°C heat wave this week that prevented any sensible Australians from going outside. So I stayed at home and did this.

Meet the Terpenes - A Visual Introduction from Isoprene to Latex
Click to download 200dpi JPEG (5.4Mb)

It took about three days to sketch, research and create.

Three days ago, I knew nothing about terpenes. My undergraduate phytochemistry class was really difficult. The teacher was a genius, and put huge amounts of effort into his tutorials, giving us thick booklets at each seminar filled with his hand-written notes and dozens of chemical structures. But for some reason, I just didn’t get it.

So this week, I decided to make the graphic I wish I’d had when I took the phytochemistry class many years ago. Having this poster on my wall would have answered all my questions and made the class much more enjoyable. I hope you find it useful, too.

As always, I welcome all feedback, corrections, suggestions and comments, etc.

Enjoy 🙂 James


21 thoughts on “Meet the Terpenes: A Visual Introduction from Isoprene to Latex

    1. Hi Tony,

      You can download them for free if you plan to use them for educational purposes. (In which case, I’d appreciate you letting me know how you use it, because I’m a teacher, too!)

      I’m also selling posters and prints, some of them signed, quite cheaply with international shipping. Click “Order Prints” near the top of my website to do that.

      🙂 James


      1. Your a good dude. Beautiful work. Good luck with your print sales. Me and my friend study everything and we are going to really dig deep with terpenes. I know very little about this. When I show this to my friend he will thrilled and we will peel back another layer of this magical world. That was very generous of you to offer it to tony for teaching others. “Generosity is the Disposition of the Dwellers of Paradise” – Perhaps my friend will buy one of your prints. We need more people like you in this world and wish you well. Take care


  1. I’d love to get a higher resolution image to print a single poster of this, can I pay you for that? It’s wonderful!!


  2. Hi Love your posters I work as a science tech in a NZ High School and I am using some of your posters for a science publicity display within our school, I love the food ingredient posters; thanks heaps regards Liz Hilliar


  3. It is really amazing work! I love your poster, it is really useful information! Would you mind if I use it for my presentation (thesis defence)? Thank you so much for your great work!


  4. Thank you so much for this poster! It’s genius! I am currently doing a course in cosmetic formulation and really need this visual systematisation!


  5. I sent a note to say – fantastic work. I am also inviting you (and your readers should know) to write a paper for a new Journal of Distilling Science. Touching upon the terpenes after your esters and acids work is very much welcomed educationally and I look forward to seeing much more over the years. Would love to chat with you regardless of the note above and the Journal of Distilling Science issue.


    1. Hello James.
      Like Gary, I am also in the distilling world, coming from a chemistry background! These posters are an amazing reference and help me to explain where the flavors that we experience in a whiskey or a gin come from. Thank you for the free downloads… and I just ordered a few prints to hang on my lab walls.


  6. Hola James, te escribo para agradecer tus publicaciones !! Me encanta este poster de Terpenos. Lo tengo impreso desde 2018 en dos hojas A3.
    Ahora, con tu permiso, planeo encargar una traducción al español, para imprimirlo un poco mas grande (espero que no se noten las cajas de texto editadas). Bueno un abrazo desde Bariloche, Argentina


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