30 inspiring examples of 3D art

11. Muhammad Ali

Salah says: “Anatomy has been the biggest challenge, but also the most enjoyable challenge.”

This six-month Muhammad Ali project was completed during artist Mahmoud Salah's Think Tank mentorship programme in 2016. “To push myself to do my best, I had to choose the greatest role model in pushing oneself – Ali,” he says.

In a breakdown of his approach, Salah says: “I started with modelling, sculpting, unwrapping and texturing in a T-pose. As soon as I got to the posing stage, I did a lot of sculpting again, particularly on the torso... I used 3ds Max and V-Ray for rendering and Hair And Fur for the hair.”

12. Apex the Robot

Claver based Apex on artwork he found online

Artist Alvaro Claver created Apex the Robot over four months, putting into practise the skills he learned from training with one of the world’s best texture artists, Justin Holt. The piece was based on artwork by Dan Jones.

Claver pinpoints learning how to texture in Mari as the most challenging part of the project, but says that it was also very rewarding. “There is nothing you can’t do, combining [textures] with good, proper masks and baked maps,” he says. “My workflow involved creating multiple channels for every material including diffuse, specular, gloss, and bump.” Claver rendered in V-Ray and had “an HDR very similar to the location where I took photos of the sculpture.” As he edited the video in Premiere after comping, he says, “It was so nice to see Apex come to life!”

13. Hover Car Garage

Suyang Wang poured lots attention to detail into this scene

“I spent four weeks on this project – almost 100 hours of modelling and 50 hours of texturing,” says Rico Suyang Wang, from China, who’s studied at Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Games & Animation in Hollywood. The concept was inspired by Alejandro Burdisio’s work: “He is one of my favourite artists and I have always wanted to bring his designs into 3D with a realistic style,” says Suyang Wang.

The biggest challenge was making everything look convincing and functional in 3D, explains Suyang Wang. “I modelled the scene in Maya, textured in Photoshop and rendered with V-Ray. I spent a lot of time blocking the scene and defining the mechanical details. For the texturing, nuance is crucial and reference is key. My mindset is very simple: when I feel something is wrong, I know it must be wrong, so I change it very quickly.”

14. Waiting for the Bus (Leech Girl)

Steiner's piece certainly does make you look twice

“The goal for this project was to study and introduce Substance Painter into my workflow, and also to test Marmoset 3,” explains Mariano Steiner, a character artist and digital sculptor who created this piece in two months. “I wanted to provoke a weird feeling when the viewer sees it,” he reveals. With its realistic setting but unusual character, it’s certainly a piece that will make you look twice.

“In my personal work, I always try to input a bit of what I’m excited about in that moment, and always try to push the level in some way,” he adds. With Steiner finding inspiration through movies, games and toys, as well as nature and space, it sounds like he certainly won’t be short of interests to fuel his imagination.

15. Fight Like a Girl

Rocha Prates says that a good story inspires her work

Self-taught illustrator and graphic designer Aliel Rocha Prates shows what it really means to fight like a girl with her boxer artwork based on an original concept by her friend Rayner Alencar. Taking 12 hours to create, Rocha Prates’ determined fighter was an exercise in getting the pose and character right.

“I also enjoyed reproducing the lights and reflexivity of the slightly wet skin,” she explains. “The composition and post- production in Photoshop takes longer for me. I like to explore all the possibilities, you can completely change the mood of an image by just editing it in Photoshop."

16. D.va Maintenance

Collignon says: “I create a Logline about an idea, then I brainstorm the idea, gather references, create all the assets, compose it, then I’m done!”

Belgian illustrator and concept artist Antoine Collignon mainly works in the entertainment industry for films. Completed in just eight hours of his spare time, D.va Maintenance is a piece of fan art based on the Overwatch first- person shooter computer game.

“I loved compositing this image to make it feel powerful,” Collignon explains. “The painting process was also super fun to do because it brought some life to a synthetic 3D base model.”

17. One is the Loneliest Number

Morrell's awe-inspiring portfolio includes this beautiful, intricate piece

This awe-inspiring, sci-fi 3D art scene was created by digital artist and designer Stefan Morrell. With a clear love of the genre, this talented artist's portfolio is full of beautiful, intricate sci-fi landscapes – but this gorgeous piece is our favourite.

18. Prom Night

Riciotti captures this young lady's nerves and anticipation perfectly

3D generalist Mickael Riciotti lets the 3D art do all the talking in this inspiring illustration 'Prom Night'. Capturing this young lady's nerves and anticipation of her big night perfectly, Riciotti's brilliant piece is a far cry from (and refreshing change to) much of the busty female-inspired artwork you see.

19. Stroll in the Swamp

Guebels created Stroll in the Swamp using 3ds Max, ZBrush and Photoshop

Anthony Guebels specialises in creating promotional artwork, used for the marketing of the different brands of the studio. A personal project, Stroll in the Swamp was created with 3ds Max, ZBrush and Photoshop.

20. Magician

Liu hopes to be a top CG artist one day, he says

Chinese artist Ruiheng Liu  took four months to complete Magician. With its realistic textures, excellent use of light and considered composition, this piece showcases Liu’s many talents as a 3D artist.

A lot of work went into the face in particular. “I considered a lot of factors, like his experience and feelings,” Liu reveals. “I wanted an image where people could read a story from his face. I did several different versions and picked the one I liked the most.”

Next: 10 more 3D masterpieces