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Welcome to The Mind-Trap: 35 Most Photorealistic 3D Renderings

July 16th, 2013

Welcome to The Mind-Trap: 35 Most Photorealistic 3D Renderings

[Updated: 2016] Technology has turned the world upside down. It facilitates daily lives and substitutes our perception of the reality. The things that years ago seemed to be impossible suddenly became a constant. In 1936 BBC began transmitting the world's first public regular hi-definition service, in 1950 television was recognized as the main medium for molding public opinion, afterwards it has become a must-have domestic appliance and did not leave this position for a quite long time.

Back then people were thinking that technologists achieved a lot and there is nowhere to move forward. Then the internet came to shake the whole world. Most companies cannot work these days if the office loses internet connection. Technology is still improving. Where the hell it can go further? Today 3D printers are commercially available in the market. Do you need a detail for the household? Would you like to get a unique wedding ring? Do you have a genius idea of cheap prosthesis production? Just create or download a 3D model and print it out!

Until you get used to it, it is always immensely hard to believe. Even when you start believing, you are not sure: is it real or fake? It is actually both. Computer graphic artists are up to completely blow our minds. Instead of going to the city streets and capturing cityscapes, landscapes or portraits with professional cameras, they decide to generate the same image, using 3D design software. And hurrah! Guess, they say, is it real or fake? We keep guessing, while surfing all around the virtual world. Damn,sometimes you sit for 5 minutes and: 1) Ask yourself if is it a photo-shot or a trick by a CG artist; 2) Try to convince yourself that technology can do that; 3) Come back to the idea that it must be a photo-shot, because computer is not that clever to restore the reality in digital; 4) You give up.

So, half a year has passed by and we have a second part of The Most Photorealistic 3D Renderings. Do not torture yourself thinking. I tell you, all of them are purely fake. There is no a single photograph or a photographical background at least. Every single detail in these renderings is generated by madly talented 3D artists. Enjoy and let the flow of inspiration grab you.

Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8

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Artist: Marcin Gruszczyk

Yes, it is all made using computer graphics only. Even CGTrader's CEO, a 3D designer himself, was sitting for a while trying to convince himself that it just cannot be CG art. Marcin Gruszczyk is a master in the digitalization of reality. He estimates the level of erosion, the softness of the clouds, the tenderness of the lighting. The artist is crazy about the possibilities of computer graphics. We can easily see it. But..really? A background is not a photo?

Happy Birthday Nana

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Artist: Dan Roarty

Dan Roarty is the 3D designer, who once in a while strikes madly. He makes a rendering, publishes it and gets all the possible awards. This one is a happy birthday present for his Nana, who passed away. Dan brings her back to life, creating enormously realistic artwork, using not a single photograph for textures. Everything is hand made.

Watch the making of the project by Dan Roarty.

Under The Southern Highway

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Artist: Marek Denko

A gallery of photorealistic renderings is not that photorealistic enough if the guru of extremely tasteful artwork, Marek Denko, is not included. He says that this image has nothing to do with lonely women or old architecture. The concept of Under The Southern Highway was to capture the composition of slightly contrasting elements that do exist together and accidentally create personally important places.


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Artist: Marek Denko

This is a rendering from the animation made by Marek Denko's studio NoEmotion. It looks like a photo-shot by a photographer-beginner, who has no clue about composition, perspective and other refinement of this art. Despite the external simplicity, as a rendering it is stunning, because each part of grass, every bush and all the millimeters of fence do matter here and are modeled with precise devotion. Watch the full animation on Vimeo.

Here's Johnny!

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Artist: Hossein Diba

Jack Nickolson is an inspiration himself. If it is not enough, watch the masterpiece of Stanley Kubrick - The Shinning. So, sir Nickolson pushed a young, but skilled 3D artist Hossein Diba to start modeling portraits. He took an exact scene from the movie and modeled it from A to Z. The artist says that the aim of this work was to capture the insanity in Jack's face. And, yeah. He did it.

Southern Ground Hornbill

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Artist: Leandre Hounnake

No lies, it took for quite a while, until we all agreed that this bird is a complete masterpiece of computer graphics and not a shot of a crazy wild-life photographer. Look at the feathers and you definitely can feel the warm wind of Africa that ruffles them. Look at these deep as sky blue eyes that change colour while you watch, a strong beak, reminding each meal it caught. Look at this perfect combination of black and red somewhere in savannah. Yeah, I am speechless. That's it.


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Artist: Tim Jones

This idea came to Tim Jones' head out of the blue, while he was sitting at work. He was missing to have some time for his personal artwork. When he got it, he brought to life this atmospherical lavoir. Water in this rendering stands for realism for the most. Perfect reflections of the arcs and old walls, make this place vibrant even if it was abandoned for the long time.

Wine Room

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Artist: Sofian Moumene

Smells like a lazy Sunday. Actually, Sofian Moumene was working on this rendering during the spare days. So, Sundays. He was precisely accurate with shadings, soft lighting, reflections and vitality of the objects. The result is marvelous. Yeah, drawing a still-life was a thing I completely hated at the Arts school, but when you render it, I bet, you can start loving it.

Zavod Imeni Likhachova

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Artist: Anton Turkin

Here you can see the symbol of the Soviet Era. Back to the past days, streets were full of these cars. For today they mostly got some abandoned places behind the city walls next to the ruined factories. It is sad, but it is reality: a typical landscape of the countryside in the post-Soviet area. By the way, I think that the window of the car is too clean, while a car has already faced the long years of solitude.

Watch a making of and get to know more about the abandoned Russian lorry.

It's Going To Rain

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Denis Lebedev

One more relict from the Soviet Union times. It is just unforgettable. It's going to rain was created in order to share the authentic landscape of the Post-Soviet realities. The artist actually was highly successful doing it and it is clearly visible in the resulting rendering. The author comprised this artwork from 21 560 931 polygons and modeled all the objects himself. He says, it is going to rain. And a picture really conveys a feeling of the coming rain.

Industrial Loft 2

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Artist: Denis Vema

Everyone has that dream house or dream room she plans to build or buy after saving enough money. Lots of us know that there is no such amount as enough and the dream room is postponed to the next lifetime. Then people try to bring their rooms nearer the fantasy. Or they render it and every time they feel so, they can watch their dream visualized. This room is stunning. The way it is modeled is stunning also. Denis Vema has a really good taste in furniture, choosing textures, creating the atmosphere and using proper lighting. I like it a lot, is it because it belongs to my dream section?

Flowers In Full Bloom

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Artist: ChengBin Du

The author of this rendering is a woman. It is betrayed with the each pixel of this picture. She has chosen such a feminine subject to portray, an accordingly soft lighting to make delicate blossoms transparent, small and refreshing dew to bring the pureness to the rendering. If someone says that 3D design is a job for a man, I would argue with this.

Raspberry Day

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Artist: Andrey Kobushenko

There is no better time for such kind of renderings than a hot summer day, when you walk barefoot at grandma's in the countryside, picking fresh and juicy strawberries from one side and sweet raspberries from another. Paradise. This new image is fully made using only computer graphics software and imagination. Bon appetite!

Welcome Baby Ava

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Artist: Andrew Hakim Lee

Artwork Welcome Baby Ava is special not only because it is superb photorealistic, but it also conveys a captured moment of the real life. The author of this rendering got inspired when he suddenly became a father and was looking into his two beloved women: his wife and beautiful newborn daughter. It is touching even if you do not know the story, so since the Ancient times any story, based on the connection between a mother and a child has been a topic of mystery, inspiration and strength.

Stan "The Man"

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Artist: Andrew Hakim Lee

We never forget our heroes. So Andrew Hakim Lee decided to model a portrait of his beloved American comic book writer, TV host and the former chairman of Marvel comics, Stan Lee. He says that this person is Shakespeare of these days: Stan Lee gives people the drama. A portrait by Andrew Hakim Lee presents his childhood hero in the most gentle and realistic way. The making of Stan Lee

Sad Street

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Artist: Cetin Tuker

There are a lot of empty, lonely and sad streets throughout the world. In this rendering you can find full Mediterranean look in just one single alley. Cetin Tuker managed to model together such distinct, but at the same time quite similar cultures as Turkish, Spanish, and Italian. He said he gave his heart to this rendering and spent 130 hours working on it to reach such a high level of realism. You found some inspiration in Cetin Tuker's artwork? Watch the making of also!

Hell's Kitchen Loft

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Artist: Jarrys German

I guess there is someone else but not me, who for at least a few seconds caught themselves thinking about their own brushes and paints. This rendering is not pretentious, shocking or fancy at all as some interiors happen to be. I found it warm, inspiring and highly photorealistic. And there is something more about it, I cannot describe.

Old Typewriter

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Artist: Marcelo Souza

The new generation can see a typewriter only in a museum or in the attic at grandma's. At least they can also find it in the pictures. This close up of an old customized typewriter looks pretty simple, but sometimes what seems to be the easiest turns into the hardest. A project Old Typewriter was a study of mood, lighting, shading and geometry. Marcelo Souza, you are good student.

Candy Intruder

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Artist: Marcelo Souza

Pac-man is a symbol of the 1980s popular culture. Obviously, utter gamers tribute their sleepless nights modeling stuff under the Pac-man theme. Here we have sweet candies. Marcelo Souza plays with textures again, polishing the texture of wooden table to perfection, adding 20'000 particles for candy dust effect and gets catching and realistic result. Simple logics.

Pan Troglodytes

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Artist: Jian Xu

Looking at this intelligent buddy you just can not elude the movie Planet of The Apes that was released in 1968. But actually here we have Mr., or should I say - Pan Troglodytes - made by madly skilled designer Jian Xu. The character is so humanlike: thoughtful, abstruse and interesting. The pose of the animal is spectacular and serious. The most stunning thing about this rendering is the details. Every wrinkle of this animal is delicately modeled. Applause! Read an interview with the artist Jian Xu.


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Artist: Jian Xu

Gorgeous Siberian tiger is staring at you now. It is a short moment. Perhaps he is going to hunt dinner for his family. But, wait. Look at those deep eyes, hair, skin and whisker - marvelous job done by 3D artist Jian Xu. It is simply amazing. Unfortunately, this is not a friendly circus kitty that you could cuddle or ready for an ordinary show. Here we have one of the rarest cats in our galaxy. Admire it until it is gone again.

Alien Vs. Predator

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Artist: Benjamin Parry

Okay, maybe it is not that difficult to confuse this rendering with a real photograph. Creatures here are realistic even if they are not real. But who said that this match cannot turn into the real one someday? It's the scene of high-living monsters, kicking back in their off-duty hours. It's been 16 years we have not seen our beloved Alien and it still looks good, his outer shell perfectly reflects the light and he is extremely plastic. I wonder how this match would end. And what would happen after it. Want to model your own scene with the famous Alien? Watch the making of!

Rosary Blood

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Artist: Thomas DesJardins

Pictures under the religious topic usually make people shiver or to feel uncomfortable. There is something about them. Is it this rough wooden texture? Or is it the perfect shape of a cross? This rendering was made in honor of the designer's father, who is a sincere Catholic. The blood comes to be the symbol of the death of Jesus, who did it on purpose to save the humanity, it reveals the self-sacrifice. Most of the people think, Thomas DesJardins says, that the blood is of a priest. So, no. It's not. Religion is not dying.

Lewis Hamilton Formula 1

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Artist: Raymond Yang

Formula 1 is more than real and there can be no questions about it. It fascinates. It inspires. It awakens emotions. This one is dedicated for a hero of F1 - Lewis Hamilton. The whole set of renderings looks like a piece of good photographical art. Close-ups are especially stunning. The designer managed to impart into this image all the most important and specific things about Formula 1: speed, reaction, excitement, sound, smell of burning tires and colours. Enjoy the race.

Old Man Portrait

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Artist: Sohrab Esfehani

Portraying is a majestic pursuit. It is not enough to use good shading, proper lighting, be gifted in using textures or have some passion. The artist has to give a life to the image. The artist must make an image breathe, to convey emotion, to reveal a character, to call for conversation. Sohrab Esfehani seems to be a young 3D artist, who can do it. He gives you a spectacularly realistic portrait that really breathes and leaves you some place to create a life story for the sad man in the picture.

Gold Fish

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Artist: Masoud Saadatmand

Goldfish is a magical creature. If some of you do not know, it can make three of your wishes come true. Actually, I have never seen a goldfish in my life. And I cannot tell you if this one is the realistic one. But I imagine it almost looks like this, but a bit more fancy. Nevertheless, I have 3 wishes already prepared: 1. Fish, please, give more talented 3D artists, 2. Make them to fall in love with photorealism, 3. Do not ever let the art to spend itself.

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April 2nd, 2013

Stories Behind The Image by Tomas Kral

"Mostly I care about the story or thought that I put into the image to make it come to life" Tomas Kral

Tomas Kral was still at school, when he realised that drawing is something he is really good at. It has been four years already since Tomas Kral has started working as a senior team leader for visual effects and post production house "UPP" in Prague, Czech Republic. He had a chance to take care of visual effects for such feature movies as "2012", "Red Tails", "Season of the Witch", "Salt" and "Pandorum".

Tomas Kral is a well-known 3D designer, whose artwork has been published in the top magazines of the 3D industry. Moreover, this artist is the first one to land a 3D modeled man on the moon.

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Space Waltz

This year you are turning 28. But the world of computer graphics has already embraced you so deeply. Tell us more, where was a start of this acquaintance?

Since I had my age mentioned, it became kind of scary to confess that I came into 3D graphics more than 10 years ago. It feels like it has been ages. When I was going to Vaclav Hollar Art School in Prague, my close friend showed some short animation, created with 3D Studio Max, to me. My interest was captured. Together with another friend we started discovering the possibilities of this software and we were plunging deeper and deeper into it.

What is the main reason that you have found computer graphics so involving?

I have always been fascinated with computer games and movies. Especially at an early age. I still remember me and my brother playing post-apocalyptic game "Fall Out". I was crazy about all game magazines, because they were full of beautiful artworks. Back to these days, magazines were an inspiration for my drawing also. So I guess it was quite natural for me to become a 3D designer and make a living from my hobby.

Your artwork is highly diverse. Its themes vary from environment to characters. But what field interests you the most?

I have never thought about that. But actually it does not matter for me. I like doing both. When you are working on a character, you focus more on anatomical aspect and expression, while setting an environment requires to pay more attention to the appropriate atmosphere and particular lighting.

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Look through your artwork. Which piece of it you would call as your personal achievement?

I feel motivated when I see my name and my works among other names, which have a great sound in 3D design industry. It is a respectable appreciation. I really cannot open my portfolio and choose one picture saying "this is the one". But there was a moment in my professional life when I had to create a prehistoric mammal sloth - so I simply started working with a pen and paper and ended up with computer graphics' modeled and detailed hairy creature. I still love it.

Who are the most inspiring figures among 3D artists for you?

There are hundreds of them. Really. It could be anyone, who has the will to work hard. I admire lots of people, who work here, in Czech Republic, I see how they are trying to work on their skills. Talking about world-known visual artists, I would mention Loic Zimmermann, Pascal Blanche - both of them have a great style. Rafael Grassety has amazing modeling skills, while Marek Denko creates astonishing renderings.

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A portrait of Marv from Sin City series

Several times you mentioned that in the majority of cases your artwork is an expression of some sort of your mood. Would you name your artwork as autobiographical?

Yes. Actually some of my friends often make fun of me that I even do not need to sign my artwork. According to them, it is obvious that it is my creation. I strongly believe that every piece of art is autobiographical, because it was made by a human. A human can offer only himself, his point of view, his opinion. Some artists may have stronger style or be more noticeable, but every piece of art is extremely personal.

Which part of your working process attracts you the most?

Definitely, the beginning. It is like a fight between the author and the project. If you have some sort of idea at first, you can faster realise whether it is following the right direction. But if there is no idea, you have to invest 70 percent of your potential into it and then finish the 30 remaining percent.

How do you find ideas for your future projects? What is your inspiration?

Daily life. Books. Movies. Games. It sounds like a cliche, but inspiration is everywhere. You must be able to see it. The main source for my inspiration is internet. I have hundreds of bookmarks on various websites, blogs, portfolios and forums. It provides an incredible amount of new great artwork everyday.

Some of your works are extremely photorealistic. Could you briefly describe what is the most important, while creating a photorealistic design?

It is essential to mention that every aspect of your work is important. It is a structure. If a model is bad, you cannot help it with better lighting or other tools. If I had to pick one stage of the whole process and tell that "this is extremely important", I would take textures. For example, I have seen lots of great architectural visualizations, which keep the complexity of a model at a really low level, but at the same time they are incredibly realistic. I believe it can be achieved through good textures and proper shading.

Let's talk abot your artwork a little bit...

Winston Churchill

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A bust of Winston Churchill

Tell us what is a story behind this artwork? Why does this caricature depict exactly Winston Churchill?

This project started all of a sudden. There was a modeling competition on some website and lots of talented artists took a part in it. Me and my colleague Jan Jinda joined them in order to practice our modeling skills. Sir Churchill is a great historical character with extremely strong expression and admirable personality for me. So this project took the second prize in the competition, but more important is that I had this great asset to work on.

What are the main tools to bring realism to this image?

There are no miracles. Just the usual tools which I prefer to use. Zbrush for the modeling, 3D coat for the retopology and Uvs. Photoshop for textures and I think 3Dsmax was used for the rest of the work.

One Small Step

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One Small Step in memory of Neil Armstrong

This work astonished even the most professional artists in the CG community. Why did you create a rendering of a man on the Moon?

In the spring of 2012 I was asked by Marek Denko to help him on a new project. He wanted me to create a modern astronaut suit with high level details and real textures. I finished it and for a long time this asset just lied down in my hard disk without any use. It seemed such a loss, so I decided to play a little bit. You can see what happened out of this game.

The first version of this model was “Space Waltz”: an astronaut being eaten by jelly octopus. What brought you to the idea to remodel it from top to bottom?

To tell you the truth, I was just recycling. If you look carefully you can see that the astronaut is in the same position in both pictures. It is the same asset. The only difference is the light setup.

What were the most challenging points while working on this image?

I was trying my best, while putting as many realistic details as possible. So, indeed, modeling was the most challenging part of it.

Frankenstein Monster

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Frankenstein Monster

So, why is it a model of Frankenstein? There are lots of other monsters and mysterious creatures on the Earth and out of here...

They better hide before I get them! The truth is that I am somehow attracted to this kind of characters. I love all the old horror creatures which are not scary at all nowadays. I think that today even a child would laugh at Boris Karloff costume, when he was dressed like a mummy.

How did you manage to create such a particular atmosphere of this image?

Actually, majority of the work is simply done by using light coming from below. Lots of references link to the old movie posters. The lighting, composition and the whole view is inspired by the posters, representing Boris Karloff or other old but good actors.

It Likes Candy

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It Likes Candy

This rendering is a part of a project “About toys”. Instead of a sweet interpretation you chose to realise it in different way. Why so?

The original idea was to create at least three images. I wanted to look at the beautiful and sweet childhood from several perspectives. I think that children can be very brutal and selfish and it is up to their parents to limit them or not. If there are no parents, you meet an army of evil little creatures. I guess, the second picture in this series would be a violated doll or something like that. Please do not get me wrong - I truly love children!

You mentioned that this work is the most valuable for you. What makes it such?

At some point it was. But I am not sure if it is still.

Tell us more about the process of implementation.

Well, before starting this one, I decided to do it following the so-called "right way". Insted of taking the leap and fighting with the shapes and geometry as I often do, I took my time drawing concepts on a paper. After I found a shape of a little ugly creature, I began thinking about the environment to put it into. Since then I follow the same rules, I choose a modeling tool, do some sculpting, then texturize it and set the lighting and bring a new idea to life.

What was the most significant comment you have ever heard about your 3D artwork?

I am glad that this exact question is the last one. I have a story for it. Some years ago I was buying hiking stuff at some small Czech eshop. After a few emails the seller sent a letter asking humbly if I am Tomas Kral, a guy who works with pictures he saw on the internet. I got confused, but I responded that he was right. Then he told me that he has a tattoo on his arm, based on my rendering "Marv". Can you imagine, how cool is that?

Thanks for the inspiration!

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A Good Look at The Real World by Marek Denko

March 18th, 2013

A Good Look at The Real World by Marek Denko

Marek Denko is a 3D designer who attracted the whole computer graphics community with his artwork. The artist had no training in the field of 3D design. But he was always learning from his own mistakes and successes.

Marek Denko's first job in the industry was as a low polymodeling freelancer for a company in Bratislava. Today he is a world-known 3D designer. The designer's artwork is highly distinctive with a peculiar touch of his. It definitely bewitches with the level of realism and intense atmosphere. Marek Denko shares with us the secrets of his profession, inspirations, and reveals how to find a way in the labyrinth of computer graphics world.

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