Natural Killer Cells

Pediatrics Nationwide Magazine


A: NK cells are in constant circulation in the bloodstream, bumping into other cells in an attempt to detect invaders, such as viral or tumor cells.

B: When they collide with invaders, receptors on the NK cell surface identify dangerous proteins or antigens produced by the foreign cells.

C: These antigens trigger an attack from the NK cell. It activates F-actin, a group of bundled, polarized polymers that stabilize the NK cell’s attachment to the foreign cell’s membrane.

D: The NK cell releases lytic granules from its microtubule-organizing center (MTOC). These killer granules pass into the foreign cell and trigger cell death.

E: Natural killer cells can be extracted from donors, expanded in the lab, and infused directly into patients.

NK Cell Infusion Illustration

The Spring/Summer 22 cover art was created in a freeware 3D program called Blender. Like all 3D programs, Blender has a steep learning curve but once you get it down you can do some amazing things. And, since it is freeware, a lot of people have developed plugins for it that add special functionality. The 3D model is output as several render passes which are then brought into Photoshop and a composite illustration is created. Below are a few screen shots and several in process shots.

The interior art was done in Adobe Photoshop using a Cintiq 27QHD.

Blender 3D screenshot
Here is the finished model in Blender. I started out with a sphere and used a special plug in that allowed simultaneous random extrusions.
The finished cover in Adobe Photoshop. You can see the various render passes in the layers menue on the right.
NK Cell Cover work process

Background fade and starburst created in Adobe Photoshop.

I built a custom paintbrush to add the sun spots.

These cells are from my first two cell designs. I wasn’t happy with them for the NK cell but they made great background fodder.
A few larger background cells are added.
NK Cell Cover work process
A white render pass was placed to remove the background.
 Here I started layering and playing around with the various render passes.
I don’t have a specific order I add the passes. I place some and play around with the varous layer styles until I get something I like.
This is with a mock up of the text that I received from the designer. I usually make a recommendation for text placement to enhance the overall illustration.