Clinical Sciences: Molecular Pharmacology

A lot was going on this summer but we got a wonderful opportunity to work more on molecular illustration. This summer in our clinical sciences, we talked more about G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR). Rhodopsin is the first GPCR which was crystallized in the year 2000.

The assignment was open ended and the goal was to make any kind of illustration involving GPCRs. It could have been a molecular mechanism, or anything involving the structure.

As one who studied chemistry, I was very much drawn to structure. I read quite a number of papers and I became interested in the molecular interactions that contribute to the stability of Rhodopsin before it is exposed to light (photons). There are many factors that contribute to this but I decided to focus on only one aspect. There is a salt bridge in Rhodopsin that aids in the stability of the inactive Rhodopsin. The salt bridge is what I chose to illustrate below! Helices 3 and 6 are the major players in stabilising Rhodopsin and when light is absorbed, a conformational change results in the outward rotation of Helix 6 and new interactions stabilise the photoactivated Opsin.


Now, I learnt a lot of valuable things about how to dissect an illustration and make sure that the main message is read accurately and clearly. In my initial draft below everything was competing for attention and the main point of my illustration was lost. I believe the illustration above draws the viewer to the specific residues that are forming these interactions and then the helices, and lastly the structure as a whole and the other helices.


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Posted by on October 12, 2014 in Uncategorized


Zbrush: Embryo

A class we took this summer was Advanced Imaging Applications which was essentially Zbrush. We played around a couple of times in the program before our official first assignment which was to sculpt and paint an embyro of our own choosing in Zbrush. I did not have any particular embryo in my mind so I decided to go on google and look at a couple! I then came across a cute bat embryo. It was so cute I could not resist so I decided to create this bat embryo. This is a short-tailed fruit bat.


Here are some process pictures that I took as I worked on the embryo 🙂 It is just great to see the progress you make because sometimes when you work on a project for so long, it is hard to tell whether or not you are making progress!










ZBrush was not an easy program to work with but I learned a lot and really enjoyed the assignment!

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Posted by on October 12, 2014 in Uncategorized


Intro to Animation and Z brush: The summer session has begun!!

Hello friends! We are now back at UIC for another awesome summer session filled with lots of learning of new software and programs! After only a week of school, I have accumulated a few things to show you already! This summer I am taking Computer-based Multimedia and Advanced Imaging Applications among other classes. But to start off I have two short animations that were put together fairly quickly!

The first animation was made after only one lecture in 3ds Max and the idea was to create an obstacle course. Well, I have a green grain of rice doing some amazing stunts that you do not want to miss!

The second animation I have has a similar idea but this time this was created in a new program that we just got introduced to called After Effects!

As you may have gathered, these animations are quite playful and silly but I had a lot of fun creating them 🙂 These are fairly short animations but you will be amazed by how much work goes into making one. I can just imagine how long it would take to make more finished work! Well, I guess I am soon to find out! 😀

This summer we have also been introduced to Z brush and for practice I attempted to recreate E.T! This is of course not finished but it helped me get familiar with the program a bit more 🙂



Again, this was a fun exercise and very soon we will be using it for sulpting embryos and a character for my Advanced Images Applications class! I am amazed by what these programs can do and I cannot wait to learn more and really use these programs to the best of my abilities in the world of Biomedical Visualization! Stay tuned for more!

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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Uncategorized


Final projects: Computer Visualization and Illustration Techniques

Hello Friends! I should have already posted these assignments but I had to rest a little after the semester had ended ;P For my Computer Visualization class, we had an option to choose to work on either a healthy organ or one with a pathology. I chose healthy kidneys! Multiple programs were used in the creation of these kidneys and it was quite an epic way of ending the semester!!


Information from the visible human project was used through a program called Mimics to obtain the general structure of the kidneys. This information was from a male cadaver that was sectioned into one millimetre intervals. The kidneys were then taken into 3ds Max where they were “wrapped”. I also had to create the ureters separately within the 3ds Max as well.


The kidneys were then taken into Mudbox for additional sculpting and painting. I used several reference pictures to try and get an idea of the natural colour of healthy kidneys. As I was painting in Mudbox, the view shown below caught my attention and I thought it would be interesting to represent the kidneys in such a dynamic form as opposed to head on.


I brought the kidneys back into 3ds Max to add more texture and to light them as well. The kidneys were then composited in Photoshop.


With enough manipulation and patience 😉 the final healthy kidneys shown initially were the end product. As I said earlier, this project was such an epic way of ending the semester as it allowed us to use all of the new programs we had learned in the class!!

For practice, this jaw was also created in a similar fashion! The mimics file…


The 3ds Max file…


And finally, painted and sculpted in Mudbox…


Lastly in Illustration Techniques, our final project was to work on a Editorial piece for the Northwestern Public Health Review. I chose an article that discussed landmine victims in rural Colombia. Most of the victims were children who played in areas where there were landmines planted. Most of the children lose their limbs after stepping on these landmines. The article brings awareness to what is happening to Colombia and attempts to get people’s attention in the situation and the need for better medical supplies for the victims. I have personally never created an Editorial piece therefore, this assignment was especially challenging for me. I can definitely say that I learned a lot about creating cohesive compositions! This project was started and completed in Photoshop.

Simunyu_F_522_4editorialThe idea behind this piece was show the foot at a very dramatic angle about to step on a landmine. I was “attempting” to show the foot about to explode with the use of cracks as one would see in a volcano. During critique, a classmate mentioned that it also looks as though the boy has a bad case of dry feet… hehe. I may recycle this for a lotion advertisement! Who knows! 😀 The summer session is starting up soon! Be on the lookout for more work!!


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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tom Jones Reproduction: Colour Theory

Hello friends! In my Illustration Techniques we have been talking a lot about colour theory. The assignment was to use one of Tom Jones’ illustrations. Tom Jones was actually the founder of the Biomedical Visualization program here at UIC! I feel very honoured to have been able to replicate one of his pieces in colour. This colour composition was painted in photoshop. I had never done a full colour painting in photoshop and this was a very interesting and fun experience! I used a couple of reference images of surgeries of the thyroid gland (which were very bloody by the way) just to have an idea of a colour scheme to go of off. Below is the final painting…Simunyu_F_TomJones

I learned a lot about visual communication with colour. It is absolutely important and necessary to think about what the focus is in the illustration and being able to effectively use the attributes of colour (hue, value and saturation) to support your piece. In my case, I hope when you look at it, the main focus will be the thyroid gland. It is fully rendered with intense highlights and shadows and it stands out more than anything else. This is the actual Tom Jones illustration…Simunyu_F_TomJonesCopy2The semester is almost coming to an end guys! I still have a few more projects, therefore, be on the look out! I have one Editorial piece for my Illustration Techniques class and some 3D modeled kidneys 😀

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Posted by on April 18, 2014 in Uncategorized


Max Brodel Reproduction (and a few others)

Max Brodel is known as the father of modern medical illustration and below is a reproduction piece that I did to study value and texture for my Illustration Techniques class. This reproduction of his work was painted in photoshop (yay photoshop!) This was my second time painting in photoshop, therefore, this was quite an experience! It was definitely different from working traditionally. The big difference that I was especially challenged with working digitally was the use of a wacom tablet. You have to discipline your hand to move a certain way and you really need a great deal of self-control especially for areas of the painting that have fine detail. Unfortunately, this appears darker than it looked when it was painted :/ Hope to fix the problem!


The rose is my very first painting that I did in photoshop! The sketch that you see below it was actually provided by my instructor, John Daugherty and the assignment was to expose us to painting in photoshop using quite some crafty techniques. I had a lot of fun with it actually! I love colour and I cannot say I have worked a lot with it but I am sure looking forward to learning more about it!



The reproductions below are long past due! These were meant to prepare us for the pen and ink assignment that I shared with you some weeks ago. The study was of the femoral artery and its major branches (you should check it out if you have not done so already!). I got a lot of practice with the wacom tablet doing this assignment. I practiced inking in photoshop by copying a sphere that was done by Gerald P. Hodge.


Below is another copy that I worked on from a piece done by (I am forgetting the artist but will update soon!) It is definitely an interesting experience reproducing work that was done by some of the finest medical illustrators out there! There is no better way of learning other than by studying their techniques and working on a few reproductions!

Simunyu_F_PainterTechniquePlease stay tuned, for more work is coming soon!

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Posted by on April 4, 2014 in Uncategorized


Neisseria Meningitidis: The deadly bacteria


A few weeks ago we were given our first big assignment for our Computer Visualization class which involved researching a cellular or a molecular process and then illustrating one scene in the 3ds max. I thought for quite some time what kind of process I would be interested in illustrating and I chose to focus on how bacterial meningitis develops. I decided to read more about the type of bacteria called Neisseria Meningitidis. I wanted to follow the bacteria’s pathway from the time it enters the nasopharynx until it reaches the blood-brain-barrier. Below is the storyboard that I sketched out after reading multitudes of papers! This was quite a challenging topic to do research on as the details of this process are still being developed. In summary,the storyboard depicts Neisseria Meningitis crossing the epithelial cells in the nasopharynx and then reaching the circulatory system. Colonies grow in the blood vessels leading to the accumulation of proteins that eventually prompt the rearrangement of the cellular surface of the blood vessel. The rearrangement causes cellular projection of actin-filled microvilli that surround the bacteria – protecting it against shear forces. Illustrated in 3D are the projections surrounding the bacteria.

I really enjoyed this assignment! Like all the others, it was challenging but! at least I got to work with my favourite colours wich are purple and blue! 🙂 Please stay tuned for more! The semester is not over yet 🙂


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Posted by on March 30, 2014 in Uncategorized