3D art: 27 stunning examples to inspire you

11. Raptors

Hadrien Gouedard wanted to give these dangerous animals a crazy personality

“For this image I used a classic process: sculpt in ZBrush, pose in ZBrush, quick Polypaint, and then I did some tweaks on the materials in KeyShot to get a nice SSS effect,” says character artist Hadrien Gouedard. He begins his creative process with some quick 2D sketches before rushing them in ZBrush, then finishing off with 3D-Coat, Substance and Marmoset, or directly in KeyShot.

Gouedard’s work on this particular image was driven by a desire to lend a crazy personality to such a wild and dangerous animal. “The challenge is always more artistic than technical for me,” he adds. “The goal is to keep it fun throughout the entire process, when I look at the sculpt it needs to make me smile.”

12. Nasu Tepee

Hossein Yadollahpour used SpeedTree to create realistic vegetation in this scene

Iranian artist Hossein Yadollahpour got his start in 3D back in 2001 when he found himself reading through a tutorial booklet for 3ds Max. “My father gifted it to me alongside my first computer,” he adds. Since then he’s gained experience in architectural visualisation, environment design, character design and VFX, and nowadays he manages his own studio in the city of Qaem Shahr. 

He adds: “This re-creation of the Nasu Tepee started when I found some photos of this beautiful building on the internet.” According to Yadollahpour, the biggest challenge on this piece was tree simulation, but he managed to overcome it with the help of vegetation modelling software SpeedTree. “This powerful software is one of the best choices to make any kind of tree. You only need to know what kind of tree you want and SpeedTree makes it for you.”

13. Space Frame

Praveen V. S created this image in just a day

This image took freelance artist Praveen V. S just a day to complete. No stranger to delivering huge projects at speed, he once created an 8K rendered BMW interior in less than 24 hours.

For this particular project Praveen employed a number of his own notable techniques. “I used the round edges option to add a bit of roundness to the sharper edges. These help to catch the highlights, adding to the realism,” he explains. “To add extra details I export to ZBrush, remesh, add the detail, unwrap, then import back to 3ds Max.”

Praveen sees 3D art as a means to explore his passion for automotive design. “In real life I don’t have cars or even a home yet. That said, I have done CGI visuals for Mercedes, BMW, Jeep and a few other automotive brands.”

14. Cambot – Memory

Liang did things a bit differently to create the rain

Dong Liang is a 3D surfacing artist based in Singapore. His personal project, Cambot – Memory, shows off his talents. “Every artwork begins from a story I try to tell,” he explains. 

“To start with, I usually do a bunch of concept sketches to explore the design and composition while also looking for reference images. Once there is a decent sketch, I start blocking in the low-poly geometries in 3D.” 

From here, Liang begins working on the detailing and lighting. This piece, however, posed a unique challenge. “The rain effect was done a little bit unconventionally,” he reveals.

“I randomly instanced five different streak models onto a nParticle system to mimic the rain streaks instead of using motion blur to  do so. Rendering noise-free motion blur is too heavy for my machine.”

15. Welcome to Paradise

This final year 3D art project by 3D animation students at the University of Hertfordshire was created over eight months. “We spent the summer discussing the story and created some rough concept art, but it was only in the final year that the project took off,” says Veronika Epsteina.

The animation is inspired by a piece of concept art created by the artist Gennaro Grazioso, which portrayed small nomadic people with big robots. “A storyboard was created, and based on that, a really rough animatic – where we filmed ourselves playing out the scenes. This helped with the editing, to get the timing and camera angles right,” says Epsteina. 

“One of my favourite shots to work on was the reveal of the alien planet. We knew it would be one of the most important shots in our film so we put a lot of time and effort into it.”

16. 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 turn his designs into 3D art 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.”

17. Waiting for the Bus

Steiner's piece certainly does make you look twice

“The goal for this 3D art 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.

18. The Free Autonomous Republic of Dieselville

Federico Ciuffolini used a lot of cloth simulations in this work

“I’ve been doing photorealistic renderings for seven years. 3D has been my greatest passion for almost 15 years, and it’s not fading,” says artist and programmer Federico Ciuffolini. This particular image took him just 100 days to complete.

“I used a lot of cloth simulations in this work,” explains Ciuffolini. “For the smaller objects I used MassFX, which is quick and stable. For more important objects, where I needed more control, I used the cloth modifier.”

For inspiration, Ciuffolini turns to his fellow artists: “I think that we, as 3D artists, are very lucky. We have a broad, open and passionate community and watching what other artists create is a constant, unbelievable flow of inspiration. I frequently find myself awestruck, and when that happens I often feel a real need to work on my own projects, to try new things, to create. It’s almost physical. I really think that the creative process is a fundamental need of human beings. I hope that my works inspires people in a similar way.”

19. 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 3D 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."

20. Study of Julia Blattman Illustration: Gecko Car

Yisu Zhang is very new to 3D art – not that you can tell from this impressive image

“Pretty much everything used to create this image is a basic modelling technique taught to new students,” says Yisu Zhang. He is currently just a student at Think Tank Training Center and very new to the world of 3D art, not that the quality of this image suggests it.

“I used displacement for the ground and dirt, V-Ray 2-Sided Material for the leaves and varying degrees of SSS material for the geckos and berries,” he explains. “VRaySun and Sky provided the only light source. I painted my diffuse/spec/bump maps in Mari. V-Ray fog and depth of field are tweaked in Photoshop.”

As he continues his studies, Zhang has ambitions for the future: “I want to tell stories with my artwork. I believe there are many ideas and emotions that can only be conveyed in a visual medium. When I see artwork that achieves this, it motivates me to get better.”

 Next: More 3D art masterpieces