This essay provides an introduction to the terminology, concepts, methods, and challenges of image- based modeling in biology. Image-based modeling and simulation aims at using systematic, quantitative image data to build predictive models of biological systems that can be simulated with a computer. This allows one to disentangle molecular mechanisms from effects of shape and geometry. Questions like "what is the functional role of shape" or "how are biological shapes generated and regulated" can be addressed in the framework of image-based systems biology. The combination of image quantification, model building, and computer simulation is illustrated here using the example of diffusion in the endoplasmic reticulum.