LifeBrush: An Illustrative Simulation Canvas for the Biological Mesoscale

At the mesoscale, molecular machines assemble structure and orchestrate the processes of life. It is a chaotic and alien world whose scale makes communicating scientific findings a daunting challenge. Scientific illustrators confront the challenges with static illustration and video animations. With \lifeBrush{}, a virtual reality tool, we bring those static illustrations to life as interactive illustrative simulations. \lifeBrush{} is an illustrative simulation canvas, for sketching, simulating and visualizing the biological mesoscale. Like an artists paint palette, we design molecular arrangements, self-assembly rules, and generative procedures in an interactive palette. Then, we use our palette and generative algorithms to sketch illustrative simulations. We developed a novel realtime algorithm for painting and synthesizing element arrangements from a palette into virtual worlds. Our synthesis algorithm has applications for virtual world construction, and for interactively constructing illustrative mesoscale simulations. We synthesize networks of interconnected proteins filaments with sketch-based swarm grammars. To model macromolecular self-assembly, and to interactively construct macromolecular structures with our sketch-based system, we propose a realtime physics approximation based on spatial rules designed in the palette. We use our system to sketch and simulate cytoskeletal filaments in our illustrative simulation canvas. With our system, we structurally recreate, simulate and step inside some famous illustrations by the structural biologist David Goodsell.
mesoscale, illustrative simulation, agent-based modelling, discrete element texture synthesis, macromolecular self-assembly, scientific illustration, virtual reality, sketch-based, texture synthesis, computer graphics
Davison, T. (2020). LifeBrush: An Illustrative Simulation Canvas for the Biological Mesoscale (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from