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Modeling and animating microbes using sims and shaders


The world of microbes is fascinating, and visually very abstract but with recognizable shapes, structures and movements. I was inspired by David Goodsell, a research scientist and watercolor illustrator of cell interiors, as well as the informative and high resolution videos from Journey to the Microcosmos. Most of the modeling on the project relied on simple simulations of organic processes, and utilizing Houdini’s vellum system to emulate microbe membranes.


Paramecium is a genus of unicellular ciliates. They are used as a model organism by scientists and called the “white rat” of ciliates. They move through the water with cilia, hair-like threads on the surface of their membrane.

Nematode vs. Macrophages

Nematodes AKA roundworms are a phylum of worms. There are thousands of species at different scales, inhabiting almost every ecosystem on earth. Some are parasitic. Macrophages are a type of white blood cell that engulfs and digests foreign substances, microbes and other detritus. This animation was originally inspired by this youtube video.

Synura Colonies

Synura are a type of algae found in fresh water. They form spherical colonies, each synurid is an individual teardrop shape. They are a common plankton found in lakes and ponds.


Radiolarians are protozoa that produce intricate mineral skeletons made of silica. They are found as zooplankton throughout the ocean, and their remains make up much of the cover of the ocean floor.