With a judging panel of leading 3D experts and over $30,000 worth of tools and resources up for grabs, E-on's annual 3D CG Environment Competition 2017 attracts the most talented digital artists around. Read on to find out who snagged the hotly contested top spots this year, and see the paintings that caught the eyes of the judges.
This year's winner was Alen Vejzovic, an environment design and concept artist based in Gothenburg, Sweden. At the Heart of the Island was created using a combination of VUE xStream 2015, PlantFactory Producer 2015, Photoshop and ZBrush.
Vejzovic has entered the competition for the past few years, and it has become something of a tradition. For this year's entry, he decided to focus particularly on the cliff sides and textures in his scene. "I spent a lot of time making a smart material in Substance Painter," he explains. "I like the lighting too. E-on's VUE really excels in these kinds of scenes."
This impressive environment was praised by the judges for its natural composition, impressive detail work and realistic lighting. "Composition is strong, we move through the image with interest, whilst the excellent attention to textural quality, render and lighting make this my favourite," said Sofronis Efstathiou, BFX Competition and Festival Director at Bournemouth University. Blue Sky Studios' Justin Gladis was also impressed, commenting: "Wow. Beautifully lit and very believable, well balanced and understated."
Vejzovic scooped up over $17,000 worth of prizes, including VUE xStream, PlantFactory Producer a HP Zbook Studio G4 Laptop and a Wacom Cintiq 27 QHD Touch.
Alessandro Mancini, a freelance environment artist based in Rome, Italy, just missed the top spot with his submission. Wonderfully Alone was awarded second place, thanks to its impressive atmosphere and strong sense of depth.
"Amazing attention to detail and strong use of depth and tonal contrast. A classic VUE image," enthused Jim Thacker, editor of CG Channel.
With his environment, Mancini tried to create a place the viewer would want to be alone with themselves. He took inspiration from images of Costa Rica and Malaysia, and created a scene mainly in VUE, but used World Machine for the terrain and Blender for the little tent.
It's Mancini's third time entering the contest. "I've always wanted to win, as a sort of challenge to myself," he explains. "Of course the presence of other artists, especially very skilled ones, made the objective not so easy to reach!"
This environment, entitled Fisherman, was awarded third place in the competition. It's the work of Maciek Sikora, a 3D artist based in Ireland.
It was Sikora's first year entering the competition. "There are two things that inspired me, the beautiful landscapes in the 2016 film The Jungle Book, and the classic oriental image of the fisherman on the raft," he explains. "I tried to add a lot of details to make the scene look natural, and spent a lot of time setting the light so it looked realistic."
E-on's academic prize was awarded to Jonathan Bacheter, who studies at ARTFX in France. For his entry, Bacheter took an existing sketch and challenged himself to recreate it using VUE xStream, including matching the atmosphere of the original image.
"I wanted to create a mood, a world, a light, a story," he says. "Painting is not simply good techniques. There was potential for storytelling – you can imagine a dinosaur behind the hill; he comes and the birds flee."
Bacheter was thrilled to have been awarded the academic prize. "I didn't think I could win," he smiles. "Thanks to this competition, I feel more comfortable presenting CG concepts at my school."