Diana Connolly – Looking Outwards 5


Zika Virion Scientific Illustration, John Liebler

Link to the article about this illustration:

Scientific illustrator John Liebler was intrigued by the Zika Virus as its name quickly spread due to its severe health implications. Liebler knew that there was a need for somebody to illustrate the Zika virion in its entirety, depicting all of the proteins in it. So, he set out to illustrate it and came up with the above image. His artistic sensibilities are manifested in the final form in that the image is a very clear but detailed depiction of the Zika virus, illustrating for any viewer what the physical make-up of the virus is. His use of varying colors also helps the viewer to parse each of the proteins in the virus. I’m not sure of the algorithms used to create the image, but I am sure that he must have used a program such as Maya to create his 3D representation of the virus, modeled after several scientific images of the physical virus, and then had the final 2D image rendered from this model. I had thought for a while that I might want to become a scientific illustrator, so scientific illustrations have always intrigued me. After searching online for 3D Zika illustrations, I came across Liebler’s and found it truly inspiring. I admire this piece because it not only filled the need for a detailed and clear illustration of the Zika virus, but it also inspired researchers to further study each of the individual proteins in the Zika virus. Now, researchers have published the homology models (3D renderings of each protein for the sake of other scientists to observe when the specific protein make-ups aren’t yet known). Thus, this illustration not only helps to depict the Zika virus in its visual properties, but it also spurred further research of the virus itself!

Leave a Reply