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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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February 27th, 2013

Grab An Inspiration: 30 Most Photorealistic 3D Renderings

Some people like to highlight that all the glorious art has already been created. Those who say so perhaps forget to count in the endless possibilities of 3D design. Today movies can be filmed in a quarry of stone and 3D designers will add the turquoise sea, verdant pinewood and a surreal house on the shore.

The audience could suspect a house being improved using 3D design technique. But it is much easier to bribe with a landscape selling a matte-painting as the real one. Moreover, 3D designers are passionate to confuse questioning: “What do you think: is this a photograph or the art of 3D?”

This phenomenon is called photorealism. It is like a magic wand that brings a fantasy into the life while is used by a skilled artist. Obtaining render which is indistinguishable from a photograph became the Holy Grail of 3D design since 1960s. The target in this work is to reach perfection. In this particular case it means to imitate the reality to the smallest dots. It requires high level of attention even to the rarest details.

So we want to share our thorough list of the highly professional 3D artwork of photorealism. Hopefully, it will give you new ideas and inspire for the masterpieces.

A Vespid

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Kuan Fu Sun

Kuan Fu Sun says that it took 30 days to finish a render of a vespid, using 3dsmax, Zbrush and Photoshop for post production. It is richly detailed from the tiniest parts of an insect such as body hair or the net of eyes to the floating bits of dandelion in the background. Daylight illumination and strong depth-of-field makes you feel the macro scale of a scene. Also precise textures of wings adds the final touch to realism in this image.

Here is a making-of of the render.

The Chesterfield Project

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Benjamin Brosdau

Interior is something what surrounds us everyday. This classical interior 3D scene has all the elements and tiny details needed to fool a human eye. Accurate textures with extremely balanced shading and lighting of this rendering left us in awe. Benjamin Brosdau has completely achieved the same feeling of excessive, stylish richness that can be associated with 19th century classic interior design. What once appeared to him as a modeling task to get a famous chesterfield couch done, ended up becoming something much more complicated.

Bits Of Bread

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Bertrand Benoit

All around the web this render by Bertrand Benoit is accredited as the most realistic one depicting our daily bread. Moreover, it indeed makes you hungry as hell. The author tells that he found a niche of rendering baked products almost accidentally. After a while he made a decision to build a small library of baked, carb-heavy assets. So he shared some of the results with a community of 3D designers and left them speechless. Bertrand Benoit is extremely accurate with the textures and as a result it is possible to feel the warmth of a loaf of bread.

A detailed and illustrative narrative is provided by the author.

The Classroom

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Meny Hilsenrad, "Studio Aiko"

This is a possible future project of a design studio “Aiko”. Their original plan was to create a classroom environment from different camera angles that overlooked the entire classroom. Of course, later it turned out to be a highly challenging project: they went into much more complex work. One classroom has four different stories covered in separate lighting versions: daylight, night, sunny day and camera flash. Each contains precise details and high level of realism which does not blur even in the light of camera flash. Many of 3D designers use this idea as an inspiration for the generation of ideas. The team of “Studio Aiko” says that this project was done with a lot of love and dedication like no other.

Project's making of is provided on vimeo.

Everything Beautiful Is Far Away

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Marek Denko

Marek Denko is the 3D designer who fell into CG world when he was 15. Since then the artist stands for realism, details and perfection. This render reminds photographs made with Soviet film cameras: deep and somehow nostalgic. The author says that it took too long to finally finish this work: there were periods when he even could not look at it. A concept of this render is about being far away from everything you love. Marek Denko thinks that the airport is an exact place to feel that loneliness while walking unpersonalized between ‘Duty Free” shops and fake Irish pubs. Nevertheless, it was published in the 6th volume of “Digital Arts Maters” book series.


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Marek Denko

This was supposed to be a commercial product. But... Ready-to-use 3D model of soil was left for the Marek Denko. So he kept the scene and professionally used it for the personal project. He mentions that he was not sure what will be the hero of the shot. An idea to use a toy came to the designer's mind when he started finding toys he brought for his son from L.A. All of them were scattered around the house and garden: almost destroyed. Marek Denko found one of them. It was the 1953 Cadillac Eldorado. That's how the author found a hero. But this is only a story behind. A process was much more difficult, asking at least few hours a day and 7 hours of rendering.There is available retrospective of Marek Denko's artwork on vimeo.

Old Lamp

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Andrey Zhelem

There is a saying that the very first attempt usually fails. Then this render is an exception of a rule. “Old Lamp” is the first still-life image Andrey Zhelem has ever made. Firstly, he had an idea to create something old, but also sweet at the same time. And suddenly he got a picture in his head of a simple, but stunning still life render. He needed 7 days to reach his own limits of perfection and to finish it. Then it took only 1 hour of rendering to see these touching results.

The author also shares a tutorial for 'Old Lamp'.

You're Goddamn Right!

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Riccardo Minervino

Riccardo Minervino works in the game industry, but never refuses experimenting. 3D designer has created a set of extremely photorealistic portraits. This one introduces you to Walter White aka “Heisenberg” from TV series “Breaking Bad”. At first, this 3D model was sculpted in Zbrush in just two days and later it was rendered in Octane. To render a portrait is a highly demanding task. It not only requires a precise work with outlook, but a designer must make the character alive providing him particular but concrete features.

You can also find making-ofs of his artwork.

It Was You

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Toni Bratincevic

Tricycle. This render like a time machine brings everyone to the childhood. It was an intention of the author. He says that it is a reflection from his early memories. It has appeared as a picture of ‘Polaroid’ in designer’s mind: a coming render had to be as realistic as possible. Colour effects, abandoned things, old house, some light coming in, litter and windows without glass: all of them create mysterious atmosphere, awaken feelings and emit reminiscences. This work is dedicated to the author’s wife. Moreover, it was awarded with CG Choice Award and CGhub Gold Award.

Street 13-26

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Grzegorz Wisniewski

A street view is a very common for most of us. The designer started creating this render only as a texture test, but he says he could not stop working on it. So the author decided to turn it into a complete scene. The hours he should have been sleeping gave the result. This object reminds some areas of a hometown to the author. He sees it as an old building waiting to be pulled down, but it still has people living inside. Personal project “Street 13-26” was given an award for excellence on, 4 stars on CGTalk and published in number 7th of “Render Out” magazine.

Camera Vintage

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Hernan Gonzalez

Most of the 3D designers work for the companies. But when they have some free time, they sit in front of the computer again and then – work for the personal projects. It took three days to finish this Vintage Camera render. The name of camera almost announces: “Brilliant” – this artwork looks so too. The designer was able to convey its age and to create a breath-taking reflection of a window in front. Moreover, he is experienced with the textures, so it helped him to expose all the smallest bumps and dust which makes this render to look as a real photograph.

Lost Highway Wind

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Gustavo Grappo

3D design works of this artist can be easily characterized. They are highly realistic and the author uses similar tones of colours and renders objects driven by inspiration. Some of them come from other artwork: paintings, movies, books. Others are associations of the everyday life. This render is a frame of Gustavo Groppo’s upcoming short movie "Lost Higway". There is also a video with a moving model. I guess simplicity is exactly what attracts in this creation: I am given a feeling of Wild West and almost can see a windmill turning.

The very first shot of the author's movie "Lost Highway" on vimeo.

Once upon a time

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Gustavo Groppo

West of America is a dream for almost all American males. The inspiration for this render came straight from a Hollywood movie "No Country For An Old Men". But the designer had to wait a bit to fulfill this vision and express his inner energy. A trip through Arizona's desert was a final for that. Despite the fact that a plot of a movie takes place in Texas, Gustavo Groppo set a scene in Arizona. To tell the truth, a render really has a strong flavor of the Wild Wild West as the other artwork of Gustavo Groppo.

Ice Environment

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Gerardo Gerard

Gerardo Gerard is a 3D artist, who specializes in matte-painting. He usually chooses powerful, but demanding landscapes. There are rainforests, abandoned and destroyed cities and ruined underwater civilizations, conspiratorial and extremely cold environments. Most of us have never seen such a view, but somehow a freezing cold can be easily felt. The author created an entire palace of ice with graceful but strict lines. A position of sun is highly important for this render and the soft colour of lighting makes a model less stark, but more realistic.

Here is a making of for this render provided.

Green Iguana

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Xiaodong Li

Wild life photography astonishes almost everyone. Wide and unusual angles give an opportunity to observe that secret world from a closer perspective. But Xiaodong Li captured one moment of iguana's life, using 3D design technology. Lush colour, detailed squamae, delightful wrinkles of the skin and alive eyes: provide almost the perfect quality of a render. Moreover, it looks not only photorealistic, but a reptile seems to be given some human features also.

If anyone is interested, the author provided a making-of.

One Small Step

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Tomas Kral

I truly believe that every work should find its time. Tomas Kral says that he hardly had any time or wish to start working on this 3D model for a long period. He was asked to create a modern astronaut suit with high leveled details by other designer. So that asset was just lying down in his hard disk, while one day he decided to play a little bit. Out of this he got a result of "Space Waltz": astronaut being eaten by a jelly octopus. Later he updated a render to the "One Small Step". It took three weeks for Tomas Kral to finish it. After that he dedicated this model to the legacy of a recently deceased Neil Armstrong.

Tomas Kral has provided a making of for the interested ones.

Winston Churchill

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Tomas Kral

It seems that Tomas Kral likes to involve famous characters into his 3D design scenes. Time for Sir Winston Churchill has come. The designer created a caricature, displaying him as a bust just standing in one place and observing the world around. The character definitely minds his own business, while he is cruelly attacked by the pigeons. Maybe a bust of W.Churchill is not very common in the streets of London, but pigeons on the sculptures is something all of us have seen. Of course, this is not what makes this render photorealistic. Tomas Kral managed to convey a texture of a particular material, every single crack is clearly visible and a pigeon is so relaxed. As always.

Tomas Kral has provided a making of on his personal website.


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Denis Tolkishevsky

Denis is an extremely talented 3D designer. According to him, everything he knows about design and art came from the books and internet lessons. He has no artistic education and sometimes feels a lack of it. There should be an eye of expert to notice that lack, I guess. Nevertheless, the designer is interested in everyday scenes such as one in the "Prototype". While creating that 3D model Denis was experimenting with various textures that help every artwork to look realistic. This one was given few awards by American and Russian portals for 3D designers. He was acknowledged for the excellence and concept and published in a book "Arqute".

Apricus Acini

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Denis Tolkishevsky

Denis Tolkishevsky seems to be genius in simplicity. The designer managed to create an absolutely realistic render which possesses only one detail betraying an image to be 3D design. Yes, it is a spider's web in a corner of a picture. When it comes to an object: textures are perfectly detected, berries are purely translucent and leaves are almost touchable. "Apricus Acini" render has received four awards on Russian websites for 3D designers.

Stages Of Light

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Jesus Selvera

The designer Jesus Selvera got an idea for this render while experimenting with a lighting. He tried to capture different light from a single still. The texturing was made by the author from scratch. Most of it was hand painted to create diffusion, reflection and displacement map correctly. Surprisingly, all the models in this render have reflections even including the walls and mud. It took 3 months for the author to finish it. Moreover, each of a render required 4-5 days render time. Jesus Selvera says that there are 12 million polygons in this artwork. I even cannot comprehend that number.

Here you can find the full his project attached.

A Glass

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This artwork is peculiarly simple, but fascinating. Despite the fact that you can distinguish it from a real photograph, it is greatly realistic. When you look at it, you see a million-times used glass inherited from your grandmother. It was an experimental rendering of glass using NOX renderer, but it became more than an experiment. All the tiny and accurate cracks and splits are the reason why this render appeared on this list. The author has attached scheme of used material and wireframe.

Inter-dimensional Predator

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Greg Petchkovsky

An idea to generate this strange creature came after Greg Petchkovsky and his friend decided to challenge each other making an "inter-dimensional predator". The goal of this was only fun and practice. Neither of them has really finished it, but were highly inspired by the technique the other has used. This render is greatly inspired by a painting by Dave King and Japanese sculptor Takayuki Takeya. The author reveals that each eye of render is made from two spheres: a small one with the colour, surrounded by a slightly larger one that is refractive and has fresnel reflections. In addition to this, the smaller sphere is flat in the iris area, while the larger one bulges out a bit to form the lense. Unsurprisingly, the picture has received a "CGChoice Award" and master award for 'portrait-render' from EXPOSE'4.

Greg Petchkovsky shares a wire of a render.

Ecosystem Simulation

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Arkadiusz Rekita

I noticed this render firstly because the topic is revealing. Ecology is a painful mainstream discussion topic nowadays. Moreover, this work is a whole project following the idea of Fibonacci sequence. It means that Arkadiusz Rekita started this project seeking to create procedural plants model which sent themselves information and formed in a such a way so that in a result they make one organism. It works as ecosystem in which every plant, every leaf and fruit has its own non-incidental place. A render creates an impression of photorealism firstly because of the spider web with tiny drops of water. While exploring a view, you realize the plants to be so punctilious that you even believe them to be real.

Here you can find the whole project of Arkadiusz Rekita on ecosystem simulation.

Phillips Exeter Academy Library

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Grab An Inspiration: 30 Most Photorealistic 3D Renderings 35Grab An Inspiration: 30 Most Photorealistic 3D Renderings 36Alex Roman

A father of this building is Estonian architect Louis Kahn. He built and designed it a few decades ago. An artist is Alex Roman's favourite architect and the designer has always wanted to reproduce Louis Kahn's masterpiece. After a long period of studying, he finally did it. Alex Roman tried to avoid books in the shelves of 3D designed Phillips Exeter Academy's Library in order to provide more raw geometrical space. As he says he playedaround a little bit with volumes, lighting and materials. All in all the author spent almost 2 weeks scratching. Most time he was drowned into mapping and textures work. Each shot took 1-2 hours of work, Alex Roman says. But we see results of it and the fact that he has created one of the masterpieces of 3D visualization. These are only few shots from the full 3D animation.

You can find it on vimeo.

Old Violin

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Francesc Camos

A bunch of renders on this list were made by the experiment. This is one is not an exception. It was a godforsaken room which inspired Francesc Camos to examine himself in texturizing. He tried it with different types of materials: wood, metal, paper, glass, plastic and even fabric. The author created the nostalgic atmosphere and definitely blew a breath back to that room. There is only one small detail that catches my eye: a glass of a lamp is quite too new and too transparent. Nevertheless, this render does have a spirit.


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Shd Denis

A young 3D designer Shd Denis said only one sentence while publishing this render. He treats it as a small 3D project with a soul inside. Indeed, there is one. This 3D model is quite extraordinary. There are millions of ways to choose how to create a render of a beloved women or muse. But the artist chose to construct her from the wires. It makes a render highly realistic, but at the same time surreal also.

I Am The King

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Walid Layouni

Walid Layouni was inspired to create an extraordinarily luxurious bedroom, where I guess only the real king could sleep. Some people are not attracted to live in the museums, indeed. Like it or not, but this render possesses a high quality of realism. The author was very accurate trying to preserve the value of small details on the decorative panels. He says it was important to make a visual mass balance for the space. Walid Layouni thinks that it is mostly nitpicking. While his render look as a gorgeous fantasy, I found that the real framed pictures bring me back to the reality.

Author provides making of for those who want to render their fantasy rooms.


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Monika Olizarowicz, Tomasz Wyszo?mirski

The idea of flying fruits or vegetables is not that new: we find it on TV or food advertisments. But there is no need to say 'no' to yourself, when you realise that you are inspired to create a such render. The fact is that realistic food in the images definitely makes us hungry and that is why it is powerful. The authors of this render created the whole collection of flying food: red-faced tomatoes, redolent coffee beans, juicy blueberries and blackberries and healthy apples. Water drops on fruits and vegetables provide an impression of freshness and realism. There are some rough details left, but the crew without any doubt sold a render.

They share healthy apples rendering making of on vimeo.

White Bedroom

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Jurai Talcik, Veronika Demovicova

The authors say that origin for that scene came from an ambitious project to create complete classical appartment, renovated and filled with furniture in highly modern style. In that room they wanted to model everything what is possible. It was five days hard working and Veronika has created the most advanced 3D bed done to our knowledge. Individual stills needed rendering on average for 9 hours at 3000px. All in all, they were working on this project for more than one month and half. Render reveals that they thought about everything: appropriate lighting, every single detail of the interior, correct adjustment of colours and rational reflections. Maybe this room is too clean, but I know how easy it is to mess it up.

The designers share a full 3D animation, containing a tutorial.

Two At The Carnival

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Olga Anufrieva

Masquerades always spread some magic around. There is no doubt that an event can become an inspiration for the artists. Olga Anufrieva grabbed an inspiration and looked through the pictures of masquerades on the internet. She found her story of two people and created a render based on it. These people met each other in a celebration wearing masks. A woman is convinced that a guy is a love of her life, but a guy is not sure that she is his second-half. Olga says that the main goal of a render was not only to convey it as a photograph of two people in a masquerade, but also to transmit their mind to the audience. As a woman, she started rendering a lady first. What a coincidence!

For the interested ones Olga tells how she made a render. Please note that making of is in Russian.

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