This is a small side project I am working on exploring the readability of complex molecular visualisations

My first challenge was creating a MEL script to automatically grow very complex molecule-like structures. It takes ball and stick geometry (which can be replaced with any shape) and the number of itterations to grow as inputs. After some calculating, I got structures whose branches dont intersect and is otherwise completely random.

The second was comming up with a shader which was as clear and unobtrusive as possible, yet complex enough to portray the complex network. It is still an ongoing project, but the shader is the first one I wrote in renderman RSL and turned out pretty neat. I kept each element in itself pretty flat, as the relationship between the elements was more important rather than portraying the elements as "spacial" and flooding the illustration with otherwise meaningless shadows. As the distance from the camera increases the elements get darker and slightly desaturated. Also, closest to the camera there is a slight mix between the diffuse and flat shading. A final feature is a subtle outline. There are variables for all these features. So, for example, making the elements more spacial is possible by altering the diffuse/flat mix and lowering the decrease rate of this mix. Not only is this shader great for what I am using it now, but I guess it will also produce some interesting results as a toon shader.