New Blender Competition: Photo Realism

I’ve been wanting to do a competition on this topic for a long time. Ever since I saw the very first Fake or Foto challenge from Autodesk 8 years ago, I wondered… ‘what is blender really capable of?’

Well now it’s time to find out. This competition pits blender user against blender user to find out who can create the most photo realistic scene.

So start your engines, it’s about to get real!


You may create anything, just make it photo realistic.

Choose a topic that you can create photo realistically but also complex enough that it requires a certain level of skill to pull off.

The Prize

I chose Digital Lighting and Rendering as a prize because it’s a truly iconic book that every 3d artist should own, and if anyone can make proper use of it, it will be the winner of this competition ;) And if you already own the book you may instead opt for any product from the Blender eShop instead.


  • Only one entry per person
  • It must be an image
  • It must be created with Blender
  • It must be rendered with either the Internal renderer or Cycles
  • Minor post processing in Gimp or Photoshop is allowed
  • Minimum image size is 1280 x 720, but the bigger the better (any aspect ratio is fine)
  • Your image must be a new creation, not an existing project
  • It must be your own work. No bought/borrowed or third party models allowed (including MakeHuman)
  • Photographic elements are allowed, but must not be a central part of the image (sky backgrounds are okay)
  • Your image must in some way relate to the theme
  • The winner will be asked to submit the .blend file for proof of its creation


Obviously what you do in this competition is up to you, but if you’re drawing a blank here’s a few photo realistic renders to get your brain firing…

Created by Alessandro Prodan

Created by Alessandro Prodan

Created by David Moratilla Amago

Created by David Moratilla Amago

Created by Marek Denko

Created by Marek Denko

Created by Douglas Shimada

Created by Douglas Shimada

Created by Tolgahan Güngör

Created by Tolgahan Güngör

Created by Lebedev Denis

Created by Lebedev Denis

Created by Alex Roman

Created by Alex Roman

Created by Dan Roarty

Created by Dan Roarty

Created by Xiaodong Li

Created by Xiaodong Li

Created by Souichirou Motoi

Created by Souichirou Motoi

Created by Giuseppe Improta

Created by Giuseppe Improta

Created by Marek Denko

Created by Marek Denko

Now before you admit defeat and abandon any hopes of competing, let me just say every images posted above are created by the best artists that the 3d industry has to offer ;) I scoured CGSociety for a couple of hours to find the most impressive photo realistic work to post. So I in no way expect everyone in this competition to be at that level.

All artists are welcome! Whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned professional; give it a go and you may just surprise yourself ;)

Criteria for Judging

Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Photo realism
  • Complexity

Choose a topic that you can create photo realistically but also complex enough that it requires a certain level of skill to pull off. In other words, don’t simple make a marble on a wooden floor and expect to win, because more complex and ‘impressive’ scenes will trump it.

Aim high but don’t bite off more than you can chew ;)

Tips for Winning

  • Use lots of photo references – it’s unlikely you’ll achieve photo realism without it
  • Sketch out your idea before diving into blender
  • Focus on one human emotion (awe, shock, intrigue etc.) then create an image that provokes that emotion
  • Create a scene that you yourself would want to be in.


Here’s a few tutorials to get you pointed in the right direction (but don’t replicate the exact result):

6 Reasons to Enter:

  1. Competitions push you to better your work by exploring new themes
  2. It teaches you the importance of deadlines
  3. It can help you to think creatively by working around the constraints of a set theme
  4. Competing alongside other artists is a good source of motivation
  5. Great way to showcase your artwork and get noticed
  6. You’re helping the world! This rare opportunity means you can help the world through your art.

Submissions and Deadline

Entries must be submitted before 16th July 2012 at 11:59pm GMT.

Submit Your Entry Here

May the best artist win!

About Andrew Price

User of Blender for 9+ years. I've written tutorials for 3d World Magazine and spoken at three Blender conferences. My goal is to help artists get employed in the industry by making training accessible and easy to understand. I'm an Aussie and I live in South Korea ;)
  • dlqx

    Did I got it right that the winner is forced to donate the prize of $500? Why? Such forced charity is ridiculous and yes I’m a bad person… ;)

  • abarts
    made in 3dsmax..??!!

  • Amogh

    We want the result!!!

  • deepthi

    When the competition results results will be put ?

  • Pingback: Blender desde las profundidades | mínima expresión

  • jimmy

    I just noticed that the “Photo Realism” text has that nature accademy ocean image as a texture :D

  • Bhavin

    Hi, I’m not sure when do you collect all the images from the submission thread, I applied a little fix after i posted it, so please check my entry TOASTER –
    again in case you have saved it before I fixed. Thanks.

  • caleb johnson

    Is anyone else having trouble uploading your photo and .blend file?

  • Özgür

    Hi, I cant join this competetion because cycles dont work on AMD7970 on ubuntu (I’m ubuntu user since 7.04) and W7. This work done luxrender and I believe I chance of win if cycles work on ubuntu on 7970 but wont work, so this competition not cover all 3D artist unless cycles work as well all computer artitecture.I am not interested B.İ.
    Greetings to everyone.

    • Juan José Torres

      You could have rendered it on the CPU. Doesn’t seem like a render that could take forever without GPU computing…

      • Özgür

        Hi Juan, yes but my cpu i7-2700k render mike pan BMW 2minutes 30 second (only clay render on W7) and amd 7970 just 24 second,I get bored to CPU so my scene contains so many object and ı need and wants powers of GPU…

        • Ms Horse

          I feel your pain.

          Btw, your image is good, but is also obvious that you mirrored the buildings and the trees on the background, so it looks weir.

  • Demetrius

    ohh man guess im to late to enter oh well :) hehehe…..

  • snowman

    jo if you scroll up until you see the name stefan genier he will explain how

  • Jo

    I have no idea how to submite mine this sounds stupid but can some one please help me click on my name :|

  • brad

    These competitions are seriously awesome and they have really pushed the blender community(at least the ones following blenderguru) to improve on their skills and push the capabilities of blender to the limit. As I was working on the latest competition, I created a food object as a background object in my scene, and I was like…THATS IT! I think having a realistic food competition would be really cool, and would be something most artists have never tried before. So hopefully in the future we can see a realistic food competition.

  • Demetrius


  • wycky

    second image that is like example is without colors. Here is original image –

  • Slader Matthew

    I attempted to do this competition… got distracted…

  • snowman

    thanks stefan

  • Stefan Genier

    To submit your image, scroll down to the bottom and click “Reply to Thread”. Then (in the tab) click the icon that looks like an image. Find your image and attach it.

  • snowman

    still cant submit image please help!

  • snowman

    can anyone tell me how to submit an image? when i click “submit your entry here” it brings me to the blenderguru competition thread on but doesn’t say how or where to submit entry. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    thanks in advance!

  • maria ines ocaña

    another thing, please, how do i send the image?, i don’t understand how is it!
    thank you very much…

  • maria ines ocaña

    Dear Andy, can i use ivy for a little part of the scene?,

  • Alan

    Why can we not use Yafaray or LuxRender as well? They are both viable, longstanding render engines that have been used with Blender for ages.

  • Fred

    Is it okay to use 123d catch for starting the model and textures?


    • blelelendarr

      Guess not, as Andrew aims at showing off what blender can do, without external software (renderengines or “modelling” software) As he said we cant use an alternative modeller, we can’t use 123d either.

  • bshep

    This will be an interesting competition….

  • Casey W

    We’re OK to use Arbaro, right?

  • Dan

    All of this images where done in max but no one in bender ?? why do u use them as inspiration here ??

  • Talha

    xan i use thomas luft ivy generator, cuz im making a nature scene and i really need it :(

    • Villano

      i’m not sure where that plug in come from, but if it’s built in blender (official release), then it’s probably allowed.. :)

      • Talha

        its not a plugin, its a seperate program, and its no problem, i found a way around it :)

  • Pingback: New Competition and Progress « Dirigible CG

  • Pingback: Blender ITALIA

  • Noob

    so the winner won’t get any money? :(

    • bizla

      look on the other side of then, the winner will prove that he/she is a very very good graphic artist, and im sure mango could do with some more modellers ;) prove yourself and you might get a job doing it with the big boys

      • Noob

        aw yeahhh :)
        that’s right, i didn’t think about that before…. u brought new hope….

        well,, i’m not expecting for that job, at least for now, i’m new in 3d world, still have to learn more,.. ;)

        • bizla

          thats good to hear xD well since your new to our world, welcome :)
          this is a particularly hard contest for a beginner to enter, but probably a great way to speed up the learning proccess, when i started I found the challenges on blender-weekday-challenge helped speed up my learning a huge ammount as I was having to learn new things that they dont teach in tuts, good luck with your entry :)

  • Davis

    And how I can I register and then upload the image?