Portfolio - January/February 2011 - Various Artists

Digital art encompasses many forms: sculptures created with 3D software and output using rapid prototyping, stunning virtual landscapes, beautifully rendered 3D objects or scenes, and computer-generated portraits, to name a few. For years, digital artists have created such imagery using CG tools, including an extensive palette from Autodesk.

As the CG software and hardware have advanced over the years, so, too, has the art. Also contributing greatly to the growing complexity in digital artwork have been the recent advancements in GPU-accelerated rendering solutions, enabling artists to expand their creativity further than ever before. In celebration of this creative evolution and the 20th anniversary of Autodesk’s widely used 3ds Max content-creation and animation software, the vendor—with support from Nvidia, maker of graphics accelerators-—sponsored a Rendering Revolution contest, a still-image architectural visualization competition.

The term “rendering revolution” describes the broad changes taking place in rendering as GPU-based computing power brings revolutionary workflows, speed, and performance capabilities to many aspects of the rendering process. “We have reached a point where artists can scale their rendering resources according to deadlines and other requirements. This will help artists and designers to explore ideas in a way that has never before been possible,” says Ken Pimentel, Autodesk director of product management, visual communication. “The submissions we received for this contest showcase what can be done with new rendering technologies, such as Quicksilver, Iray, and V-Ray RT.”

The design mandate was simple: Participants had to create a still image of an architectural scene incorporating the 3ds Max 20th anniversary logo in a recognizable and creative form. While artists could use any 3D software package for creating the work, the final image had to be rendered within either 3ds Max 2011 or 3ds Max Design 2011 using the native GPU rendering solutions (Quicksilver or Iray), or any GPU-accelerated, third-party renderer that works within the Max environment.

The results, though, were hardly simplistic, with submissions ranging from digital sculptures, to CG modern art, to architectural structures, and so much more. The winning entry, submitted by Chinese artist Qingfeng Chen, features an artistic rendering of the logo. The image was inspired by a diverse pile of steel pipes Chen noticed on a construction site. Secondand third-place prizes went to German artist Benjamin Brosdau and Italian artist Dionissios Tsangaropoulos, respectively. Those images, as well as stills from the other finalists, are featured on these two pages.