Synberc - Synthetic Biology illustrations

Synberc commissioned a series of illustrations to highlight their cutting-edge developments in the field of synthetic biology.

From three supplied academic papers highlighting three novel methods, we then sketched a series of concept images, whittled these down to three, and over to the right you can see the final three high resolution images we produced.



Surrey Satellite Technology - SSTL 900 satellite platform

Surrey Satellite Technology wanted some "glamorous" images to show off their new SSTL-900 satellite platform. We were supplied with CAD files, which we prepared for render, and produced the images below.


Synthetic Biology concept for the cover of Science journal


We created this illustration which was featured on the cover of Science, for a special feature on Synthetic Biology.

We created a series of variations of a bacterium model with flagellae, converted these into lego models, and then used this to compose the final scene.


Bacteriophage illustration for Science magazine's Sci-Vis competition

This image to the right shows a bacteriophage attacking a bacterium. These terrifying creatures actually exist - as the microscope reference (above, left) will testify. The 3D bacteriophage model was rigged and positioned on the surface of its prey, a bacterium. Looking like something out of a B-movie horror flick, the finished image does justice to this terrifying, structurally complex virus. The illustration was selected for an honourable mention in Science magazine's Sci-Vis competition in 2011, which is a very, very short list of visualisation talent from around the world.



Insulin Hexamer

The structure for this insulin molecule came from the Protein Data Bank (, molecule 1AI0), and this was converted to a 3D ribbon representation, textured, lit and some depth-of-field and glow effects were added. In the image, insulin forms a symmetrical hexamer around a central zinc ion.



For this illustration of retroviral action, we used a real integrase/DNA dimer structure (obtained by crystallography, PDB ref 1Z19), to show the virus' genetic material (red) integrating into the host's genome (green) within the nucleus. The three stages of approach, binding to surface receptors, and merging/injection of the viral contents can be seen.


Cholera Toxin

Using the real structure of the cholera toxin (PDB ref 1XTC), we were able to show a semi-cutaway view of the various components of the toxin, highlighting the three parts of the toxin and their structural relationship.


Bloodhound SSC - CAD render

With supplied CAD models from the Bloodhound SSC engineering department, we created a polygon shell and composited the model into a real environment, with precise reflections, lighting, etc. Why build the real thing at all....? Oh wait, they're doing it now.


ESA's Solar Orbiter - CAD render

We took ESA's Solar Orbiter CAD files, and created a full 3D environment for it, which was then used to produce a series of posters and a six-minute HD animation, highlighting the mission objectives and specifications.