Illustrating the growth of cancer cells – with marshmallows!

I was approached by a professor who was writing a book about cancer. He wanted a series of illustrations to show how cancer cells multiply.

First I tried simple outlines of circles with the original mass spreading out as the cancer multipled within it. No, they had to be more textured, spread out less.

So I tried 3d illustration software with slightly blobby shaped things. No, they had to be “squishier”. Squishier?

I woke up a few days later with marshmallows in my head. They come in 2 colours. They’re very squishy. Perfect!

I got a picture frame so they couldn’t spread out, sticky taped that to my scanner and loosely loaded it with “healthy cell” marshmallows. Then I swapped one “cell” for a “cancer cell” and started doubling until I couldn’t squeeze in any more. A bit of time with photoshop filters and colour fiddling and… happy client!

And I got to eat the marshmallows!