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Blender used to make cover art for Nature Chemistry

nchem-Cover-Feb12Christopher Wilmer has created this image for the cover of Nature Chemistry, a leading scientific journal.

Christopher Wilmer writes:

Hello everybody,

I am Ph.D. student in chemical engineering at Northwestern University in Illinois, Evanston.

I'm very happy to report that my research, and my Blender artwork, is now on the cover of this month's issue of Nature Chemistry! Their website is:

Nature Chemistry is one of the top scientific journals in chemistry, so it's quite exciting for me. I am a somewhat of a Blender evangelist at my university this even will undoubtedly help my cause (I've been converting fellow scientists away from Cinema4D and 3dsMax).

A little about the image

The image aims to convey that there are an enormous number of molecules one can use to create new materials. Hence, the number of materials humans have not yet created is vastly enormous. Trying to find an interesting material (to perhaps, capture carbon and save us from global warming) by making it in the lab and testing it is too slow, so we've developed a computational algorithm that speeds up the discovery process significantly.

The molecules are depicted as toys (reminiscent of Tinkertoys), which I arranged in a pile (made using Blender game engine + gravity) and then rendered using Luxrender.


  • Georg Wieser

    Nice job, I like it! This one: was also made with Blender. I also made covers for Advanced Materials, Soft Matter and Journal of Materials Chemistry, all with Blender. So don't let someone tell you Blender is not up to the task!

    • Chris

      That Nature Photonics cover is awesome - is that Blender internal renderer or a pathtracing renderer?

      • Georg Wieser

        I think I used VRay on that one, via bdancer's script (Props for that). But I find myself using cycles more and more these days and considering it's stilly a baby the future looks bright for Blender!

  • T.E. Mencer

    Nice work! Looks pretty great - and I had to laugh at the title, very clever :)

  • CD38

    Congratulations on making the cover of a Nature journal, Christopher. That's a very big deal!

  • chromemonkey

    Wonder whatever happened to the guy who said Blender could never be used for anything of professional quality!  Booyah!

  • PhysicsGuy

    That is great. Ciongratulations on reaching the cover. I have yet to taste that success. I use blender for all my work related artwork. A lot of people now outsource such artwork in the hope that they will score a cover. I find this a ridiculous idea. As a scientist, you should be able to communicate your result and blender is a great tool that allows just that.

    • Georg Wieser

      I would have to disagree, firstly not everyone has developed his artistic skill and secondly a successful cover illustration is not about communicating an idea but about raising interest (imho). Basically, it's advertising. But if you are a scientist that can do art that is awesome, I think there is a lot of underestimated beauty in science. A nice quote on the subject:

  • adb

    When I did my PhD in Chem Eng we were using punch cards and Fortran 4.  How things have changed !

  • chromemonkey

    You really had to get your global illumination parameters right the first time when you used punchcards.

  • Elephantatech

    nice work

  • Luk Cox

    Congratulations! Really nice job. It's very stimulating to see that Blender is used in the field of scientific illustration and especially that top journals also value the quality of it by putting it on their cover. 
    I use Blender all the time for scientific illustration and i think it's great! It does the job very well. If you're interested feel free to check my website (

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