Unraveling the Schwann Cell

This project comes after the pelvis Zbrush sculpt, where we reconstructed skeletal structures from DICOM data. This is our first 3D project in BMC where we sculpted organic objects from scratch. My classmates really showed off their newly gained sculpting skills on this one –– but I decided to do mine entirely in Cinema 4D. I was absolutely fascinated by the power of deformers in C4D, how a beautiful, organic shape was just a few parameter changes away. Take the example of the schwann cell, it’s simply a bend deformer on a very long cube.

Radivoj V. Krstic’s Microscopic Anatomy was the savior to many in the class looking to render a cellular subject. In my concept sketch, I decided to include two different cross-sections of the Schwann cell, highlighting the bulge at either end of the node of Ranvier, and a layer of the basal lamina.

 Schwann Cell Render Concept Sketch


When it comes to the lighting of the scene, I initially set up the scene in a way to depict a relatively tranquil cellular environment. However, upon stumbling upon the stunning micrography by @nerdcandy , I completely changed my mind about the lighting setup.

Macrophage and axons



Schwann cell interaction with macrophage during Wallerian degeneration



Schwann cell interaction with macrophage during Wallerian degeneration

The ease of animation is one reason why I wanted to do everything in C4D. I’m still working on the final animation, but you can see a quick clip here: