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  • Difficulty Level:

    workshop-level-f F
  • Keywords: 3D


Class Format:
Length: 8 Weeks
Lectures: Pre-Recorded each week
Assignment: Deadlines each week
Feedback: Individually recorded
Q&A: Once a week
*For classes with less than 6 students feedback may be provided during the live Q&A session.



The wonders of modern science are arguably equalled only by the wonders of modern technology, and in this brand new CGWorkshop, biochemist and 3D modeller Giorgio Luciano brings the two together.

If you've ever wondered if the images of DNA strands floating in suspension you see on the covers of science magazines are real, the answer is, of course, that they are not - they are CG models. But are they accurate? Very possibly so, and if you're a scientist or researcher wanting to create realistic, anatomically correct and appealing 3D images of biological particles (including molecules, parts of molecules, blood cells, blood clots, DNA and more), then you need this 8 week, fully online and fully mentored CGWorkshop.

You dont need to have ever used a 3D modelling program before - the trial version of Cinema 4D is all you'll need to start with. We'll go through the basics of how to use it in Week 1 and how to get started fast (you can also use 3DSMax or Maya, if you like.)

Moving though the weeks. Giorgio will work with you on the best way of importing CT scanned biological items (bones, brains etc). You'll look at lighting, shading and the best ways of making your 3D images look great. Toward the end of the workshop, you'll work with Giorgio in Cinema 4D on the basics of particle dynamics in imagery.

Don't miss this opportunity to work with a scientist who has also been at the forefront of the CG industry almost since its inception (he's been a forum leader with us at CGSociety now for many years).

By the end of the workshop, you'll have several biologically based 3Dimages and the beginnings of a portfolio. Please join us.

Classroom Access Policy

CGMA policy states that all students will have access to classroom content for the duration of the class plus 4 weeks to review content. After this time is up classroom content will no longer be available.

For those classes with live Q&As, Q&A recordings as well as feedback recordings will be available for up to 6 months after the class is complete.

Certificate of Completion Policy

CGMA policy allows students to miss up to 2 assignments per class before they become ineligible to receive their Certificate of Completion.


Week 1 - So you want to draw molecules?


In the intro we'll focus on what you can expect from this course, and the kind of image you'd like to be able to create by the end. Giorgio will focus on what your goals are, and each week he'll give an example of the kind of image you'll be concentrating on.
In Week 1, we'll also examine how you should work. What kind of commitment is required and how you should gather your references. We'll get acquainted with Cinema 4d, create a mesh, add a light and set up a virtual stage for your images. You will model your first molecule: Graphene

Assignment: Gather as many references as possible and catalogue them. Create a folder with your aims. Gather your inspirational images (both in medical/chemistry field) but also in motion and cinema. Be curious! Ask yourself, what makes a piece great? Ask, what are you looking to create? Do you need rigorous scientific accuracy (an image for a book), or are you wanting to make an artistic, inspirational image (a dna that floats in a liquid even if the solvent molecules have the same dimension of DNA?)

Week 2 - Let’s start with importing molecules and use some shaders

First of all we will learn how to import a molecule file from a database and then to setup a camera.

What’s the behavior of light in our world (with lot of references to Jeremy Birn!) What kind of materials do we see around? How can we simulate things that are not visible in our virtual stage ? What’s the interaction between material and light? Which techniques can we use ?
Introduction to rendering (what’s GI, what kind of light do we use? What is a shadow map? What are “photons” in our software? What’s raytracing?)

Addendum what are the most common mistakes you see in biomedical illustrations?

Assignment: Create your studio setup from scratch in order to learn how to tweak all the settings in your scene.

Week 3 - Scientific software, UV and SSS

Import a mesh in your software (we use Cinema 4d but if you use another software you should be fine ;). Set up a stage. Add lights and atmosphere. Apply a material. What’s SSS ? What are UVs ? How can they help me (or send me crazy!). Do I need to model everything? Learn how to import a CT scan in your software and create anatomically correct models of what you need !

Assignment: Create a library of materials. (Very important, even if there are plenty of other libraries around). What is a material and what’s a shader? Collect textures. Collect your own alpha. Do I need Photoshop ? What are the effects that I need to learn ?

Week 4 - Modelling and Faux SEM shaders

So the boring part will finish here :) and you MUST have your assignment done, or you will fall in the default syndrome! This week we look at how you can create blood material, faux SEM shaders and also how to model simple blood cells and small “stuff” like protozoa, viruses, bacteria, pollen etc ..

Assignment: Your first image

Week 5 - DNA

So, how can you model all these messy things? Do you really need to ? We will use the software we’ve already seen to create a DNA strand. There will also be a fast chemistry primer (don’t mirror your dna!) 

Assignment: create and import your first DNA model

Week 6 - Glowing Materials!

We'll put together what we have learned and create a shader for SEM. We'll start  in Cinema 4D to see what the dynamics look like and how we can make particles interact Assignment: Fake or real?Your first "photorealistic" SEM image

Week 7 - Cover Image!

We begin to put everything together. Giorgio will be giving detailed comments on your projects to date. We will also mock the cover of a scientific journal of your choice 
Assignment - Create your own cover

Week 8 - Now it's your turn

A summary of what we’ve done to date, and a conversation about your goals and what you have created. Select the image (s) you would like to add to your portfolio.

Discuss: Which software will you need in your everyday work?

Conclusion of the course and the fun will start! Create all the clots, material, photons, DNA and other biology you please.


Student Requirements


  • It is recommended that your machine has a minimum of 8Gb of RAM and a hard drive capacity of no less than 500Gb however 16Gb will be a plus
  • A tablet is not required but is highly recommended


  • You will need painting software of your choice for the textures (free software like gimp or An understanding of Photoshop is an advantage.
  • You will also require Cinema4D and Sculptris.

Additional Notes

  • Compositing will not be taught in this class as students will only be required to do straight renders with minor adjustments in contrast and colour correction.