Tools: Software for drawing chemical structures?

Subject: Tools: Software for drawing chemical structures?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: CEL <copyediting-l -at- listserv -dot- indiana -dot- edu>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2006 09:34:45 -0400

For an article I'm writing, I need to be able to generate an image of the 3D structure of a moderately complex chemical such as a simple protein. In fact, a sequence of half a dozen amino acids would more than suffice. I don't need to draw any specific molecule(s); I'm just trying to illustrate a few different levels of abstraction, starting with "realistic" (the 3D molecule) and working my way up the chain of abstraction to the base triplets that encode the amino acids. Clip art could work, but I'd rather generate the image myself to avoid any potential copyright entanglements.

Lots of stuff turns up in Google, but before I spend a few hours spelunking and testing, I thought I'd look for personal recommendations from people who have actually used the software.

Criteria: I'm looking for something free (I almost certainly won't use it again), free of copyright entanglements, easy to use, and able to produce a crisp image that would ideally also work in black and white or greyscale. System requirements: I'm on a Mac using OS X (Panther, not Tiger). A browser-based tool would be fine.

Thanks in advance!

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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