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Poison for Pain


  • Axons, lipid membrane, TTX & VGSC render: Cinema 4D

  • TTX & VGSC: Chimera

  • Photoshop

  • Adobe Illustrator

Date of Completion: July 2018

Supervisor: Dr. Derek Ng

About: A 2-page spread intended for a printed venue like the Scientific American magazine. Its goal is to illustrate the mechanism behind how the neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (TTX) disrupts the action potential and its possible clinical applications.

ProCess work

1. Research and Thumbnail Sketches

First, a biomolecular phenomenon explainable through structure/function relationships was researched. From this research, 4 thumbnail sketches were created to explore what story will be told with this piece and how it will be visually communicated. These sketches were reviewed by the project supervisor before moving forward.

Image: 4 thumbnails presented to Dr. Derek Ng to elicit feedback. Each of these thumbnails were accompanied by a paragraph description of the scene.


2. Identify Knowledge Gaps and Relevant Data Sources

Once a concept was chosen, it was further refined iteratively. During this process a list of the visual elements the final illustration would include was created. For each element, the data needed to accurately depict that element and a potential source for that data was listed.

3. Creating a Rough Sketches to Test the Narrative and Layout

More detailed sketches were created to test and workshop the narrative and layout of the piece with Dr. Derek Ng.

Image: select sketches from the rough sketch stage

Rough Sketch1
Rough Sketch2
Rough Sketch3

4. Creating the Visual Elements

3D assets were modelled and rendered in Cinema 4D, while 2D elements were colour blocked in Adobe Illustrator and then digitally painted in Adobe Photoshop.

5. Compiling Assets into the Final Layout

The finished assets were then compiled into the final layout in Adobe Illustrator.

6. Feedback and Revisions

Feedback was solicited from the Dr. Derek Ng, other biomedical communicators, and students, and revisions were made to achieve the final piece (above).

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