Drawing Chemical Formulae on your PC

You will undoubtedly need to draw an equation out on your computer at some point, and there are several ways to do this.

  1. Load up Paint and spend hours perfecting a drawing.
  2. Use an Office suite and spend equally long hours trying to get all the lines in the right place.
  3. Use a specialist application to do it in seconds.

Assuming you chose option 3, we’d like to introduce you to MDL ISIS DRAW 2.5. Best of all, it’s free for personal use!

A couple of the templates provided by ISIS DRAW

A couple of the templates provided by ISIS DRAW

You must register first but you can then download ISIS draw through their site here. I believe they are working on replacing it as MDL has now become Symyx, so I am unsure whether it will stay free when they release the next version. The current version (just updated) now works better with Vista.

You could also use an application called ChemSketch. This can be downloaded from their website here.

These applications are very useful for drawing accurate molecules, checking them (for over bonded atoms etc) and naming. They can also generate 3D images of the molecules you make.

I’m not going to go into how to use them here, I’m just introducing you!

How about 3D?

There are quite a few notable molecular visualisation applications and I’ve just included some of the easier to use here.

You can also use the above programs to render in 3D, the easiest to use (I think) is ChemSketch. Simply draw a molecule in the standard view and click copy to 3D – done!

Another choice is Jmol. Jmol is a java applet which means it runs in your browser without installing (there is a stand-alone downloadable version also available). You can check that out here if you need added functuality over ChemSketch. There’s also a host of demonstrations and guides through the link. Like the rest of the applications on this page, it’s free!

The final example is Polyview – you simply fill in a form here and it pumps out a very nice 3D image or animation that can be put into presentations etc easily.

For more information on any of this and more I would suggest checking out this site, there is a huge number of resources for Jmol and other tools.

2 thoughts on “Drawing Chemical Formulae on your PC

  1. sourcez

    Really! Well good job, it’s a useful bit of kit. I’ve checked out the website you’ve linked to and that also looks very useful as I haven’t seen many (if any) web databases that provide free structure searches!

    Thanks 🙂


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