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Advice or suggestions on creating cells?

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At the moment I'm working on a site I need to illustrate with different types of human cells. I'm struggling to find anything suitable to fit in with the design of the site on the stock photography site, so decided to try and create some of my own, but they're very amateurish and one-dimensional.

I did find a Photoshop tutorial on the web for creating red blood cells (sometimes I've found that I can adapt Photoshop tutorials and "translate" them into PDN), but couldn't replicate the same effect with PDN using it on this occasion.

I've had a search around the forums and waded through tutorials in the hope of finding some sort of effect that either looks like cells, or that could be adapted to create cells, but haven't found anything suitable.

Obviously there are various shapes and sizes and textures of cells (textures aren't too much of a problem because with the various texture effects in PDN it's pretty easy to create all kinds of textures) but I'm struggling to figure out how to do flatish but 3D cells, and for example red blood cells which are 3D "disks" with a concave "dips" in their centre.

Any suggestions or hints for how I can do some fairly realistic (or at least not that look they've been drawn by a 5-year-old using Paint) cells?

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here's one I did while messing around with BoltBait's bevel plugin a while back:


I started out by filling a larger circle with a less saturated red to a vibrant red radial gradient on one layer, then a smaller circle on another layer with the primary/secondary colors flipped and radial gradient again.

Then, I magic wand selected the larger circle and ran bevel using a large radius with a couple different red colors as the shadow and highlight colors. Then did the same thing on the smaller circle, except switched the lighting direction.

Then, I merged the 2 circle layers down and magic wand selected the one circle, and used an average blur on it to make the transition less pronounced.

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Thanks - that's the sort of effect I'm aiming for. It never occurred to me to try BoltBait's bevel plugin. I tried Shape3D but the shapes were too round (though thinking about it, I guess with a bit of distortion they could be cell-like.

I'll have a go with your method though and see what I come up with. Thanks!

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