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14 Sep 2013

I found a bug

3D No Comments

Subpolygon displacement bug

This week my copy of the newly released Cinema 4D R15 was in the mail. Cinema 4D is the professional software package I use for most of my 3D illustrations. I was excited to try the new features (although there aren’t many in tis release that matter to me) and play around with it. When I opened a project for a medical illustration I am currently working on, I noticed a strange artifact. When
using a certain combination of settings (physical render + subpolygon displacement + distorter with a cranal noise pattern, octave 10) the displacement seemed to blow up the polygon object.
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09 Apr 2013

Cover design process

Cover No Comments

Recently, Prof. Matthew Larkum from Charité Berlin asked me to illustrate his neuroscience research for a cover of the journal Trends in Neurosciences. Here, I’d like to give some insight about the different steps of the design process; how we developed the concept and came up with the final design that made it onto the cover of the journal.
I hadn’t worked with Prof. Larkum before when he asked me if I could help him with the design of his cover. When you work with a client for the first time, you never quite know what to expect. Each of them has his own modus operandi and for many of my clients it’s the first time that they hire a designer.
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06 Mar 2012

JACS cover

Cover, Illustrations No Comments
My cover image for JACS showing a zinc sensor bound to DNA

JACS used a version of this image as cover

JACS used my cover image showing a DNA-bound zinc sensor for their February 22, 2012 issue. (They chose to use a bright yellow background instead of the dark one I suggested)

07 Nov 2011

Leukemia cell illustration

Illustrations No Comments

My final illustration

Recently, I finished a nice project for the group of Prof. Giulio Superti-Furga. They do research on leukemia and discovered an antibody that binds to a tyrosine kinase that is responsible for the development of leukemia. Therefore, the kinase is a target for fighting the disease. The binding of the newly discovered antibody shuts down the protein.

My task was to illustrate that in a single image that would be suitable for the cover of the journal CELL. I was given some key words for inspiration (which is a great help in order to understand what the client is after) and sent a few links for background information on leukemia. Eventually, I decided to do a google image search to get some inspiration about how the image could look like. I realized how visually leukemia is strongly associated with the microscopy images of purple stained cells. I decided to emulate this look in my illustration but decided to take it to 3D. I included a cartoon representation of the tyrosine kinase. To indicate its involvement with leukemia, I colored it purple also. The antibody, that deactivates the kinase, I highlighted in yellow and the ‘waves’ indicate its effect on the bound kinase. To illustrate that the binding of the antibody turns off kinase activity and thus stops leukemia, I modeled an arrow to the terminus of the antibody that appears to press a (fictitious) leukemia OFF button.
It’s rather challenging to make a complex interaction as this fully self-explanatory in just one illustration and without the use of words.

The final image did not make it on the CELL cover, unfortunately. However, it found use elsewhere:
KAMPF GEGEN KREBS – Die molekulare Archillesferse

02 Sep 2011

FEBS Letters cover

News No Comments

FEBS letters cover

FEBS letters cover

I had been helping out a friend with the figures for her publication in FEBS letters. They have then decided to use one of those figures for the cover of that issue. Nothing too exciting but what a pleasant surprise.

09 Feb 2011


Uncategorized No Comments

Since I find festivals of digital arts of all kins most inspiring and I am currently in the United States I was considering to attend the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas next month. Would have loved to hear the keynotes by Christopher “moot” Poole of 4chan.org, Felicia Day (who starred in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog” – one of my favorite muscial-movie) or Bruce Sterling, the science fiction writer. But even more important: I want to know what’s going on, what are the new developments in the digital creation culture? While I would have loved to attend, at $675 the admission tickets are just a bit too steep.
So, although I will be in the Southern US at that time, I’ll pass on. However, I am still considering to go back to Europe for OFFF 2011 in Barcelona!

04 Feb 2011

Lab website

Uncategorized 3 Comments
Too fancy for boring scientists?

The new website of the Athale lab

I finished the work on a small website for the lab of my friend Chaitanya Athale. For the design I transformed the notebook chaostheme into a lab version. The only concern of Chaitanya was that it might be ‘too fancy’ for science. What do you think?

The new website of the Self Organization and Cell Morphogenesis Lab.

24 Sep 2010

Upcoming AxPyMOL Review

Uncategorized 1 Comment

Just a quick update. Schrödinger was so nice to provide me with an evaluation version of AxPyMOL for review. The program that let’s you integrate 3D PyMol molecular structures right into PowerPoint. I only had a quick look at it before I went to Barcelona. Looking forward to check it out in more detail and report back here.

Stay tuned…

11 Sep 2010

My proteosome in Buenos Aires?

Uncategorized No Comments
Medicina Annual Report

Medicina Annual Report

While doing my weekly Google vanity search I came across this link: http://www.medicinabuenosaires.com/revistas/vol70-10

I have no idea what this Medicina publication is (looks like an Annual Report) and needless to say I don’t speak Portuguese. However, the cover image of the proteosome is from Wikipedia where I uploaded it four years ago. I have also seen it in a talk once. You never know where your images end up. It’s a bit like a message in a bottle. This time it made it across the Atlantic.

Looks like the proteosome pic made it to Buenos Aires before me.

02 Sep 2010

Career opportunities for scientists in the film industry

Film No Comments

I love movies and have been interested in filmmaking for a couple of years. But unlike Paul Verhoeven, I probably won’t become a renown director in Hollywood right after finishing my PhD. Especially since I ran into unforeseen trouble during filming that gun rampage last year…

However, I am still interested in the film industry, especially the conjunction of science and film. Which scientist doesn’t get disappointed when a science-fiction movie turns out to be all fiction and no science? Like Armageddon which, according to NASA, contains 168 mistakes (in 150 min!). Watching those kind of movies makes me upset and wonder: Why didn’t they bother to ask someone who knows about this kind of stuff? Like David Fincher did when he decided to have a long camera shot through the human brain as an intro sequence for Fight Club. He hired Katherine Jones, who started as a medical illustrator during her PhD (sounds familiar?). She created an actual storybook for the camera shot from the lizard brain amygdala to the exit point through a pore in the skin. The sequence was then rendered in 3D. This website has some additional concept art and background information about the Fight Club intro sequence. Check it out. Dr. Jones went on to do concept designs for The Cell and Minority Report.

The reason I am writing about all this is an upcoming ACS Webinar about this topic which I am going to participate in. Dr. Barry Byrne from University of Florida provided scientific advice for the recently released movie Extraordinary Measures (not sure if that’s worth watching though…) and promises to share his inside views about career opportunities for scientists in the film industry. I’m excited!

PS. Thanks to Jiancong for letting me know about this webinar!

Update: Ahh, what a disappointment. The webinar turned out to be all about the disease that is the topic of Extraordinary Measures but gave no useful tips of how to get involved in the film industry as a scientist.