Outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases continue to challenge human health. COVID-19 emerged in 2019 as a severe pandemic. This new virus adds to the list of coronaviruses that have threatened global health, along with SARS (2002-2004) and MERS (2012). Despite the efforts, no safe and efficient vaccine is commercially available as of today. However, due to the sequence similarities and the shared patterns of interaction during infection, existing drug originally developed to treat other coronaviruses infections could potentially be repurposed to treat COVID-19 infections.
Prof. Derek Ng
University of Toronto
11 x 17 (print)
Maxon Cinema 4D
I conducted initial background research and a media audit of visualization that depicted different aspects of COVID-19 infection. With this information I narrowed down the topic to an appropriate molecular pathway. Once the story was defined, I identified the characters and interactions and did research into those areas. Using the Protein Data Bank (PDB), I found complete structural data of the Spike Protein, ACE2 receptor, and the different re-purposed drugs. I also conducted extensive research on the anatomical structure of COVID-19, to make its representation as realistic as possible. I was updating my research as new findings were being published.
Once I had decided the molecular mechanism I wanted to visualize, I created thumbnails to explore different ways of illustrating the process. I went with the designs that depicted a more immersive molecular environment and allowed me to guide the audience dynamically through the process.
I organized the information in a hierarchy and separated the elements of the repurposed drugs into groups depending on the stage of infection in which they inhibit Covid-19. After that, I experimented with the arrangement of all the visual and text elements to create a narrative composition that guided the audience through the complex molecular process.
After the composition and written content were finalized, I moved on to create an accurate molecular environment. I referred to the most recent papers for information on the anatomy of COVID-19 and the molecules involved in its entry to human host cells. I imported the protein models from PDB into the molecular visualization software Chimera to finally model and render them in Cinema 4D. Once all the models were created I added them to the scene and adjusted their positions following my previous design. When the scene was finalized, I experimented with the texture and lighting to get the desired look.
I rendered the elements in the scene into different files, maintaining their appearance of being in the same scene but giving me freedom to still move and edit them separately. I exported all the files into Adobe Photoshop and composed the final scene. I added a background, depth of field, a bright aura around the drugs, etc. Finally, I made small tweaks to the colour balance, contrast, etc. to get the desired feel.
I exported the final rendered scene into Adobe Illustrator to create the final composition. I tweaked the arrangement of the texts to perfectly fit the scene and keep a dynamic flow through the illustration. The final piece was exported as a 11’x17’ inch magazine spread.