I created this DNA Double Helix 3D model in Blender using modifiers and SSS which was super easy to setup in Principled shader introduced in 2.79 for Cycles renderer.
Modeling DNA double helix 3d model using modifiers in Blender is a breeze. Basically the strand was created using a path. If one wants to animate the strand, adding a basic shape key to the path would allow perfect animation as the geometry will follow the path; nice and easy workflow.
The displacement is taking advantage of the adaptive subdivision which for some reason still considered “Experimental feature” in Cycles. This is super efficient as it subdivides the mesh dynamically based on the camera position. This allows more complex scenes to be rendered fully in GPU. Rendering with dual GPUs it was a breeze to come up with nice looking renders, even with effects like depth-of-field.
Lightwave has had the adaptive subdivision feature since early 9 so Blender certainly isn’t the first one in this camp. And I think this feature should be in the main feature set. However, although being called “experimental” the feature is mostly stable and I didn’t have any big issues as long as I kept the subdivisions in reasonable amount.
I did some searching and found out interesting article which mentions that DNA is actually near white. The colours we traditionally add to DNA molecules is just for labeling purposes. I am big fan of the beginning sequence of Prometheus where the Engineer’s DNA is being rearranged. With things like this we can have some artistic freedom.
The model is a good starting point for more complex CG animation setup in Cycles. One could add particles or volumetric lighting to make the environment look like the strand is in some kind of liquid.
You can buy this DNA Double Helix 3D model royalty free at https://www.turbosquid.com/3d-models/dna-double-helix-blender-3d-model-1211337