Recently some scientific journals add/require a graphical representation of article's content. What software is used for creating these 2D/3D images? I would appreciate suggestions (preferably easy to use)

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  • Blender could generate those, but it is very hard to use. – Nicolas Raoul Sep 18 '14 at 8:55
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    The question needs probably a little more detail to help finding answers. Some labs have enough money to hire professional designers to do such images. Otherwise, one needs to adapt other tools. The images you show were probably generated from within R or Python (matplotlib). Sketches could benefit from Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator. – Cosmin Saveanu Sep 18 '14 at 13:25
  • Thank you for comments. So basically regular software is used and there is no specific software. – wmac Sep 18 '14 at 15:49
  • Try SketchUp Make- filehorse.com/download-sketchup-make. I have not tried it yet, so can't say anything detail about it. – Tomin Jacob Nov 22 '14 at 2:41

After doing some research I found that there are software used in Chemical and material science fields that can be used for the purpose. I am quoting here in case someone needs.

The wikipedia page lists some free and propitiatory software. Some of them provide raw building blocks (balls, links, ...) that can be used for any type of design (not just chemical):


There are high quality commercial software. The following are some of the better ones:

  • Crystal Studio: see demos on the first page
  • Accelrys Materials Studio
  • Chemdoodle (a relatively cheap one)

PS: my reputation wouldn't allow posting more than 2 links.

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  • I might be biased, but I'd suggest Avogadro which is free and I've used it for numerous papers and journal covers. – Geoff Hutchison Nov 22 '14 at 2:10

In addition to these packages, I recommend a high-quality drawing / vector-graphics application like Inkscape or OmniGraffle on the Mac.

I find these give high-quality 2D output in a wide range of formats. I'll use tools like Avogadro or Blender to create the 3D graphics and insert them into the vector graphics program.

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