On the Cover of Science Magazine

Biology, Engineering, Illustration, In the press

This week, Science magazine have a special edition on Synthetic Biology, in which they: “explore the breadth of this field and how the construction of new biological systems might be harnessed to serve humanity”.
And they feature our illustration on the cover!  This is where art, science and Lego combine….  Synthetic biology is a field close to our heart, and we’ve previously worked on a range of illustrations and animations.

Equinox Graphics on the cover of Science

Synthetic Biology special issue:
About the cover:
Our previous animations on Synthetic Biology:

Epigenetics animations for Windfall Films

Animation, Biology, Chemistry

Windfall Films is one of the leading producers of science & technology programmes, and their science documentaries consistently breathe life into potentially dry subjects.
They hired us to produce  a series of animations to help explain the concept of Epigenetics, whereby chemical markers on DNA can switch genes on and off – and these markers can be inherited.  Environmental pressures on a parent can lead to adaptation in the child.  So it’s not just about which genes a child inherits – their traits can be dictated by which of those genes are activated or suppressed.
Enough science, bring on the pretty stuff…

More info:
Clip 1) Clip showing genes in a DNA section switching on an off;
Clip 2) The concept of the Epigenome – chemical markers on the backbone of the DNA which control the expression/suppression of genes;
Clip 3) This sequence shows DNA coiling around support structures called histones, which then further coil into a compact superstructure (eventually the DNA will be would up still further into chromosomes). The structure is “scanned” which represents the reading of the DNA. “Histone deacetylation” causes the structure to compact tighter, making some of the DNA inaccessible, and leading to read failures (i.e. non-expression of that gene).
Clip 4) Methylation is shown here, whereby a carbon with three hydrogens (methyl group) attaches to specific points on the DNA backbone, and this chemical marker prevents that section of the DNA being read.
Clip 5) Another scanning analogy, showing the methylation of the histone/DNA structure, and the subsequent read failures.

NSF/Science Sci-Vis contest

Biology, Illustration, In the press

This month, Science magazine publishes its annual feature on science and engineering visualisation, which is a fiercely competitive and prestigious arena for the world’s science communicators.
Scientists, illustrators, computer game companies, TV companies and new media producers compete to showcase their work and raise the bar for communication of science and engineering concepts for the purposes of public engagement and education.
We are delighted to announce that we have been selected for an honourable mention in the illustration category, for our illustration of a Bacteriophage doing what it does best: attacking a bacterium!

Bacteriophage Virus

The image was produced in around a week, including some modelling, texturing, lighting, rigging, composition, and retouching work, producing the above image at 7500 x 4500 pixels.
Our reference material (of real bacteriophages – we’re not making this stuff up!)

A1 poster-sized reproductions are available on request, priced at £70 including VAT and delivery – please contact
Our image (and animations) can be licensed from our collection held at Science Photo Library, or we are happy to take commissions for new visualisations.
The imaginatively titled “International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge”, in association with the NSF, forms part of the February 2011 issue of Science, which is available now. As they say, “To illustrate is to enlighten.”
Science minisite:
NSF site:
Direct link to PDF of the illustration category:

SPL’s Pick of 2010

Animation, Biology, In the press

Our animation of DNA unravelling with a mutation in a base pair, has made it into Science Photo Library’s pick of 2010. Pretty good, considering they added some 20,000 science clips in the past year!

Creating Life – the new field of Synthetic Biology

Animation, Biology, Engineering

We were commissioned to produce a series of animations to help explore the abstract world of synthetic biology, allowing the concepts of designing and programming bacteria to perform a particular task, in this case creating a colour change when exposed to a parasite – brilliant for testing water sources in remote locations, with a clear visual result.
For information on the documentary itself, please contact Kelly Neaves at

Royal Society Summer Exhibition

Animation, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering

We recently had two animations aired at the Royal Society’s Summer Exhibition. The Royal Society is the national academy of science of the UK, and this event allowed the general public to meet the minds behind some of the UK’s most exciting scientific advances.  We produced two videos for the University of Cambridge‘s Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, showcasing their development work on producing green electricity directly from algae.  One of only 31 teams selected to present their research. Very clever science!

Part 1: Electricity from Algae

Part 2: Scaling-up Electricity Generation from Algae

Links for more information on the science:

Teachers TV – Genes and Disease

Animation, Biology

We’ve just completed a project for Teachers TV on Genetics and Disease, featuring several of our animation sequences, related to genetics and disease, showing mutations, chromosome defects and genetic surveys.
Watch the full 15-minute video on YouTube:
Teachers TV – Genetics and Medicine: Genes and Disease
….or just skip to the pretty graphics (below)

Lego building blocks (a.k.a. DNA)

Biology, Illustration, Just for fun

OK, well here’s something I’m sure you’ve all wanted to do – build cool sciencey stuff out of Lego…..
I’m sure this isn’t the way real Lego builders do it, but should be possible to get some really cool (and really precise effects). Imagine taking any 3D model, sculpture, CAD model, and recreating a scale model.
Here’s an example.  (1) Build a 3D model.  (2) Convert it to 3D Lego bricks using Rob Abbott’s excellent Legoizer Lscript. (3) Write some code to manipulate the data into a human usable form. (4-5) Export 155 image files, detailing each layer of the structure.  Hey presto, usable building instructions to recreate any shape out of Lego  🙂
The building instructions show the position of bricks in each layer, and faded depiction of the layer below for reference.  Right, got some Lego arriving in the post, let’s see how it looks for real….

DNA 3D model
(1) DNA 3D model
DNA Lego model
(2) DNA Lego model
code monkey
(3) Some custom Lscript…
Building instructions layer 15
(4) Building instructions layer 15


Building instructions layer 49
(5) Building instructions layer 49

Design Council – Design Bugs Out!

Animation, Biology, Engineering

The Design Council asked us to help them visualise their challenge for the NHS, Design Bugs Out, where the UK’s top designers and manufacturers were asked to design furniture and equipment which would be easier and quicker to thoroughly clean, in order to reduce the spread of infections from surfaces.
From three storyboards and some CAD files, we created three animations to outline how their new equipment was an improvement, plus some 360° views of the equipment.  Read more at Design Bugs Out.

Curtain Clip A curtain clip with wipe-clean handles provides a common touch-point for anyone opening and closing the curtain and can be cleaned on a regular basis. Standard curtains are handled regularly by staff, patients and visitors. But they are hard to clean, increasing the risk of cross-infection.

Intelligent Mattress with hydrochromic dye. This mattress aids in the detection of punctures in the waterproof plastic covering, which could allow bacteria such as C. difficile to contaminate the inner foam core.  A layer of hydrochromic ink in the mattress covering changes colour as soon as fluids seep through, highlighting staff to the risk of contamination.

Patient Bedside System. A mobile patient bedside system that can be configured to suit different clinical settings and patient needs, with a design that makes it easy to disassemble and clean on a regular basis.

360° views