BioRender

BioRender is a tool for creating professional-looking science figures in minutes using templates and over 20,000 stock icons from 30+ areas in the life sciences using a web-based, drag and drop interface. The following figure is one of many templates; each element in the template is a simple icon.

BioRender App

Icons

BioRender contains an immense library of science-themed, simple icons including: cell structures and types, anatomy, different biomolecules, lab equipment, membranes and many different species from the simple to the complex. Have your own data you want to include in the figure? You can drag and drop images from your computer’s file system onto the canvas, they’ll appear as icons. Need something that is not in the library? With a paid subscription, you can ask BioRender to create new icons.

The simple icons in the library can also be grouped into compound icons in the same way that objects can be grouped (and ungrouped) in most drawing programs. A third type of icon, the bio-brush is unique to BioRender.

One of my favorite features is the bio-brush. If an icon has a brush next to it, you can use the bio-brush feature to draw repeating sequences of the icon, complete with the ability to make curves. Imagine drawing a lipid bilayer, a layer of cells or a string of nucleosomes as easily as drawing a line. Drawings that would take hours in a normal drawing program can be done in seconds with BioRender. For an example, see this BioRender tutorial for a demonstration of the membrane brush and a vessel brush.

Schematic of membrane disruptive and non-membrane disruptive bacterial killing mechanisms of AMPs Illustration created with BIORENDER.COM.
Membranes can be drawn with a membrane brush and then ungrouped to form a break into which additional elements can be added. Figure taken from https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Schematic-of-membrane-disruptive-and-non-membrane-disruptive-bacterial-killing-mechanisms_fig3_336372513.

The Biorender Learning Hub has a lot of videos on topics such as design, learning, usage and customization. This in combination with the intuitive interface means that the user can make professional-looking figures in an afternoon. Another feature is the ability to make and present slides within the BioRender interface; shared work spaces are planned.

The free license gives you the right to use the figures you create for educational purposes and in grants. If you want to publish your figures in journals or use your figure for commercial purposes, you need to upgrade to the commercial license which is $35 per month for individuals or $99 per month for a group of up to 5 members (in October 2021). Institutional licenses are also available.

Are there any negatives? The interface is optimized for Chrome so if you’re not using Chrome, there may be some issues. The price is too steep to keep a permanent license if you don’t have a research budget. However, even a student can cough up 35 dollars to buy a month-long license to make their final figures right before submitting.

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