Wait, they never told me I needed art skills to draw organic molecules!
You knew this was going to be a difficult class, and you were ready for it.
You prepared to learn about atoms and electrons, reactions and mechanisms.
Oh, the mechanisms!
Is this organic chemistry,
Or an art class?
There is a surprising amount of drawing required in organic chemistry.
Get ready for hexagons!
Do drawing skills matter?
What if you can’t draw?
Here’s the thing about organic chemistry:
While you don’t have to be an artist and your drawings don’t need to be pretty,
You DO need to learn a few tricks to ensure that your drawings are CLEAR.
When it comes to chair conformations,
It’s ok if your chairs don’t look like perfect bow ties,
Or even if you use my parallel lines trick as I teach in this Drawing Chair Conformations tutorial.
However, it IS important that your drawings are CLEAR ENOUGH to at least show what you have in mind.
I’ve seen so many students lose points on their chair conformation exams because a substituent was pointing horizontally, rather than in an obviously axial or obviously equatorial position.
How do you draw ‘well enough’ for this class?
Start practicing with skeletal structures from Day 1.
Use my Active Writing method to practice on a whiteboard (Amazon referral link).
Do the same thing with Newman Projections and Chair Conformations.
Instead of focusing on the perfect chair, perfect circle, or perfect cyclohexane,
Focus on the following:
- Newman Projections: Is it obvious that my substituents are up/down or to the side? Is it obvious that I have a staggered or eclipsed molecule?
- Chairs: Are my substituents obviously pointing axial or equatorial? Can I clearly tell if the ring carbons are up or down?
- Cyclohexane or benzene: Did I complete my ring? Are there 6 obvious carbons?
- Cyclopentane: Can I distinctly see 5 carbons? Yes, it IS perfectly OK to draw a house.
Learn the patterns till you feel comfortable enough –
This is where the whiteboard comes in.
Draw, erase, and draw again.
Hexagonal Graph Paper
Once you hit reactions of benzene and other aromatic reactions, you may want to invest in some hexagonal graph paper. While not required, my students love the ease of already having hexagons all over the paper to help guide them.
I want to hear from you!
Which organic molecules do you find the most difficult to draw?
Let me know in the comments below.