HomeNFTsGuide to Digital 3D Art

Guide to Digital 3D Art

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What is Digital 3D Art?

Digital 3D art is a contemporary artform that arose from the combined creativity and virtuosity of designers working in commercial 3D software, bending the software’s utility to more artistic ends than the usual work-for-hire fare. Just as photographers of yore ran with utilitarian technology toward wildly creative ends, so too have digital 3D artists seized the opportunity to build an expressive medium with new technology. 

While the output of digital 3D art is, quite literally, two-dimensional (it’s on a screen, after all), it exists in a 3D virtual environment, and thus exhibits a spatial realism that traditional 2D work does not. The work of 3D artists can also more easily translate as sculpture or environment in virtual reality; these artists will increasingly build the world as we know as virtual and augmented reality technology expands its everyday dominance. 


How do Digital 3D Artists Do What They Do?

Digital 3D art can feel like an arrangement of software fiefdoms with utilitarian overlaps, where artists branch into a different software for specific functions. The main kingdoms within the 3D art universe include Blender, Cinema 4D, Maya, Houdini, ZBrush, and Unity/Unreal Engine. 

The work of a 3D artist involves building (or sourcing) models — which includes characters, spaces and environments, and objects — sculpting and arranging the elements into a composition, applying lighting techniques, texturing, color grading, and rendering to arrive at a final image. 3D motion designers add animation techniques to the formidable mix of necessary skills. 


A Quick Glossary of the 3D Art Creation Process

3D Modeling: This initial phase involves crafting three-dimensional objects and characters using specialized software. Artists shape their creations by manipulating vertices, edges, and faces within a digital workspace.

Texturing: To enhance realism, artists apply textures to their models. This process includes mapping two-dimensional images onto the 3D objects to replicate the appearance of various materials such as wood, metal, or skin.

Lighting: Effective lighting is essential in 3D art as it influences the visual impact of objects within the virtual environment. Artists experiment with different lighting setups to create the desired mood and atmosphere.

Rendering: This step converts the 3D models into two-dimensional images or animations. It is the final stage in the production process and often requires significant computational resources, especially for intricate scenes.

Animation: Some 3D artists focus on animation, adding movement to their models to bring them to life. This skill is particularly important in the gaming and film industries, where it contributes to creating dynamic characters and immersive settings.


Beeple

If there is a digital art household name, it’s probably Beeple (AKA Mike Winkelmann), made world-famous by his landmark sale, facilitated by MakersPlace, of EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS at Christie’s in 2021. Well before that, however, Beeple’s work was known across social media, fashion, music, branding, pop culture, and especially within the 3D art community. 

Beeple is one of the early popularizers of “the everyday movement,” in which creative artists make a new work each day and post to social media as a means of perpetual creativity and constant technical artistic improvement. Through this ongoing interrogation of his own skills and artistic vision, Beeple has pushed himself to learn new software while bending it to his will, such as using Cinema 4D (a software intended for animation and 3D) to create still flat images. 

Beeple started minting individual Everydays in October 2021, and soon afterward, MakersPlace approached him with the idea for what would become EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS (2021). 

The Everydays are generally responses to current events and function like absurdist, occasionally NSFW political cartoons inspired by the myriad screens tuned to news channels that Beeple has constantly running in his studio. 

Outside of this daily output, Beeple’s Human One (2022) straddles the physical/digital divide with a large free-standing revolving box created by four screens. The work features a gaunt genderless astronaut trudging through an evolving dystopian landscape, all of which can and is changed dynamically as Beeple continues to morph the project in real time.  

For his tireless social media presence and his landmark sale, Beeple is, without qualification, the most influential digital 3D artist in web3, and likely outside of web3 as well. 


GIGACHAD (Day 5028) by Beeple

David Ariew

“Artists may have one of the most important jobs—connecting with people’s emotions, bringing them together, making them think, healing them.” — David Ariew

Renowned for his work that blends skillful technical expertise with a bold and creative approach, David Ariew (ar-ee-ev) — affectionately known as Octane Jesus [for his beard, long hair, and generosity] — has made a significant impact in the world of 3D art since picking up Cinema4D and Octane Render in 2013, including collaborations with the likes of Beeple, Deadmau5, Zedd, Katy Perry, Keith Urban, Excision, and more.

With a background in neuroscience, David brings a unique perspective to his artistic endeavors, infusing his creations with a deep understanding of human perception and emotional resonance. As an educator, David teaches the intricacies of 3D animation, rendering, and various industry-standard software, empowering a new generation of digital artists to push the limits of their creativity. 

Before the advent of NFTs and his stumble into art stardom, Ariew had seen his work strictly as collaborative. Facing the white space of “artistic vision” required soul searching, experimentation, and breaking the mold of everything he’d done before. Through the process of self-reinvention, he started creating “infinite mirror rooms,” which combine fractal geometric rendering, stunning lighting patterns, and distinctive soundscapes. 

These immersive 3D pieces are distinctly digital, impossible to recreate with physical media. In 2023, Ariew created his most ambitious mirror room, Quantum Ascension (2023) for an immersive installation with MakersPlace at Digital Art Fair Asia: an 11-minute 360-degree meditative abstract animation that saw myriad repeat visitors and more than a few tears. 


Quantum Ascension by David Ariew

Patric Ortmann (MotionSickness)

For over a decade, German artist Patric Ortmann (AKA MotionSickness) has been a sought-after Motion Design Artist, having worked for brands like Audi, Mercedes, VW, and Nike. He has made a name for himself, producing large-scale audiovisual media installations, concert visuals, and projection mapping for brands and well-known artists like The Weeknd. 

Apart from his client work, Ortmann has developed a unique aesthetic, looping 3D animations and audio. A lifelong learner, Ortmann’s practice is one of constant evolution as his fascination with new technology pushes him into possibilities, including his most notable artworks that feature Moebius-strip-like knots and loops that defy physical laws, work that is both tangibly figurative and textbook abstraction. The resulting aesthetic might be termed Sci-Fi Mysticism. 

Outside of visual fascination, Ortmann approaches the work of this figurative-abstraction with a scholarly rigor, referencing the symbolism of religious and esoteric practices like Hinduism, Buddhism, and mysticism to imbue his work with a deeper set of possible meanings. 


LI·G·HT by Patric Ortmann (AKA MotionSickness)

Kristian Levin (noCreative)

“When I start working, everything else disappears. It’s like meditation for me.” — noCreative

If there is any artist in this article whose work showcases a profound debt and allegiance to classical beauty, it is Kristian Levin (AKA noCreative).  

Levin is a Copenhagen-based professional retouch artist and photographer turned 3D artist. His 3D-based artwork centers around an exploration of architecture, art history, and his signature: the radical movement of fabrics suspended in weightlessness. 

Levin was introduced to the world of crypto art in late 2020 and has since become a rising star of the space. 

His artistic inspirations are drawn from photographers such as Mario Testino, Henrik Bülow, Trine Søndergaard, Blaise Reuterswärd, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Ansel Adams, and Annie Leibovitz, among many others. He’s also influenced by Dadaists and surrealists like Magritte, Miró, and Dalí, as well as the great masters like Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo, Raphael, and the painters of Baroque like Rembrandt, P.S. Krøyer, and Carl Locher. In addition, he draws inspiration from architecture, particularly brutalism.

Levin’s process for creating art involves using AI for mood boarding and creating textures, modeling in Cinema 4D, and doing the simulations in Houdini. He renders, textures, and lights using Octane Render and does post-production in either Photoshop or Davinci Resolve. 


Fenrir by Kristian Levin

Frenetik Void

“My art is sincere and truly reflects my subjective point of view of reality” — Frenetik Void

Franco Verrascina (AKA Frenetik Void) is one of the earliest and most interesting creatives native to the NFT art world. An Argentinian digital artist from Buenos Aires, his works often show a post-human universe inhabited by hybrid mutant beings where the limits of physics have vanished.

Growing up, Verrascina spent hours creating his own custom maps through games and later realized that 3D design would allow him to bring his imaginative environments to life for others to experience. Through 3D softwares, digital collage, and artificial intelligence, Frenetik Void created a large body of work that was exhibited over the years in various digital and physical galleries. As a spearhead in the digital art movement, Verrascina established himself as an artist to follow early on with his unique, warped aesthetic. 

Verrascina’s work pays particular attention to the blurring boundaries between man and machine, emphasizing this by blending contemporary and classical aesthetics wrapped in surrealism. 

In addition to an enviable web3 career, his work has also been exhibited in museums and galleries in New York, Paris, Lisbon, Miami, Mexico City, São Paulo, Milan, Turin, and Venice. Since 2023 he has been represented by Valerie’s Factory in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Chicken Heart (Lost Toys) (2018) by Frenetik Void

Perry Cooper

“I hope people can see some of the joy and humor in my work.” — Perry Cooper

Perry Cooper is a British 3D motion graphics designer based in the United States. Cooper is known for creating playful animated loops in a recognizable whimsical style that provide a satisfying new spin on everyday objects and experiences. Like an adept poet, Cooper’s skills lie in coaxing new ways of seeing from his audience.

Cooper grew up in London with a keen interest in art, design and technology. He attended Ravensbourne University for a Foundation diploma in art and design, and the Surrey Institute (now the University for the Creative Arts) for his degree. The experience at these developed Perry’s love of combining 3D, interactive technology and narrative. This culminated in his final degree work (an interactive documentary, combining 3D and video) being shortlisted for the New Media International Prize at the Poitiers Film Festival. 

In 2009, he co-founded The Confessional, a London-based digital production company. They work with agencies to create online, social and digital outdoor campaigns across the world. Perry has worked with numerous high-profile clients including Amazon, Armani, British Airways, Facebook, Ikea, Jaguar, and Virgin Atlantic. 

Cooper began posting his personal 3D digital artwork to Instagram in 2016. Like Beeple and others, posting to Instagram was a practice taken on mainly to keep active using Cinema4D while testing new ideas or techniques. Cooper started minting his work in 2020 and quickly gained prominence. During the pandemic, Perry took inspiration from objects around the home, which led to collections of work centered around items like suitcases, tea pots and — after the birth of his daughter — baby bottles.


Morning Ritual by Perry Cooper

Carlos Marcial Torres

Carlos Marcial Torres is a Puerto Rican 3D artist and one of the first artists to make a full-time living exclusively on sales within the crypto art community. 

Marcial Torres was exposed to art at a young age through his parents, both of whom were involved in the arts. He began exploring his own creativity as a teenager, drawing, writing, and playing music. He went on to study drama and film in university, only picking up 3D design skills afterward for jobs. 

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was let go from his job as a commercial 3D artist. With a family to feed, and without the government subsidization available to US and European citizens, Marcial tried to sell his art as NFTs to make ends meet.

His 3D art style is characterized by a blend of photorealism and the fantastical elements of Latin American magical realism, often incorporating themes from Latino culture and mythology. Marcial Torres’s meticulous process involves gathering 3D resources, composing scenes, and creating animations, with a focus on achieving perfect looping animations before tokenizing his work.


Eternal Cuernavaca by Carlos Marcial Torres

Alan Bolton

Alan Bolton is an Irish mixed-media digital artist currently living in Tenerife, Spain. Though he works in a variety of mediums, including photography, videography, graphic design, augmented reality, and digital collage, he’s known for his surrealist 3D work. 

Bolton’s creative process is deeply personal and spontaneous, often inspired by his immediate feelings and thoughts. Influenced by various philosophers and spiritual concepts, he finds inspiration in literature, podcasts, and lectures, allowing surrealist compositions to flow naturally from questions about consciousness, the meaning of life, simulation theory, religious ideologies, and the potential of AI. 

One of Bolton’s most notable ongoing projects is his Instagram feed, which he has been meticulously curating since 2017. This ongoing project involves collaging his posts together, creating a cohesive and visually striking profile that contextualizes each of his works in the broader oeuvre. 


THE ORIGIN OF TIME by Alan Bolton

Mazor

Portuguese 3D artist Mazor has carved a niche for himself through his tranquil and meditative animations. By employing pastel and soothing colors like greens and yellows, and using smooth gradients for seamless transitions, Mazor creates a serene visual experience. His animations are characterized by slow, fluid movements, reminiscent of elements influenced by wind or flowing water. This approach sets a calm, peaceful tone, steering clear of aggressive or fast-paced visual stimuli.

Mazor’s design philosophy revolves around viewing his compositions as a puzzle, where each object interacts with its neighbors. This interconnectedness imparts a sense of organic movement to his creations. Avoiding sharp edges, except in architectural elements like stairs and windows, he prefers smooth, organic shapes that contribute to a feeling of relaxation. 

Storytelling is a crucial component of Mazor’s work, even in his abstract pieces. For instance, “Leaving Ginnungagap,” inspired by Norse mythology, depicts a soul being saved from the void, symbolized by a floating structure acting as a portal. Similarly, “Jörmungandr’s Scout,” also inspired by Norse myths, blends the mythical with the mechanical, showcasing Mazor’s ability to infuse narrative depth into his abstract forms.

Mazor’s creative process is methodical and deeply influenced by various media. He begins with inspiration from movies, books, and other art forms, then sketches his ideas and creates mood boards for visual reference. His work involves a detailed 3D creation process, from blocking out compositions and setting moods with lighting, to texturing, coloring, and animating the objects. Through his meticulous approach and commitment to storytelling, Mazor continues to push the boundaries of 3D art, creating pieces that are not only visually captivating but also rich in narrative and emotional depth.


Leaving Ginnungagap by Mazor

Hannes Hummel

Hannes Hummel is a versatile artist and designer based in Cologne, Germany, renowned for his work at the intersection of contemporary technology and traditional design practices. His art often reimagines historical art movements through a digital lens, creating a unique blend of old and new. 

Hummel’s recent digital artworks focus on the complexity of organic structures, exploring symmetry, tessellations, and intricate patterns. This approach allows him to reinterpret nature digitally, producing hypnotic and visually compelling pieces that capture the essence of natural beauty through mathematical precision.

Hummel’s 2021 transition to web3 opened his work to a broader global audience, leading to exhibitions in galleries and art expos worldwide. His works have received critical acclaim for their innovative approach and meticulous attention to detail. Notable exhibitions include Art Basel Miami, Contemporary Calgary, and the Autodesk Exhibition​.

In addition to creating digital art, Hummel is deeply committed to education and community. He offers workshops and lectures on digital design and VR-design concepts, sharing his expertise and passion with students and fellow artists. His role as a lecturer at the Köln International School of Design and the Technische Universität Braunschweig highlights his dedication to fostering new talent in the digital arts. Hummel’s work in the NFT and Web3.0 space has led to collaborations with prestigious brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Sony Japan, producing exceptional digital experiences for various high-profile events, including New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week​.


Digital Ikebana – Full Bloom A1 by Hannes Hummel

Kate Anomalit

Kate Anomalit is one 3D artist whose work skews far more abstract than most. Hers is an aesthetic of geometrical abstraction, narrative conceptualism, and gleeful colors plucked from the palette of Lisa Frank and Caboodles, a stylistic container she calls Anomalitism.

Anomalit’s art is centered around the idea of limitless human potential, erasing gender and racial identities to highlight the uniqueness of each person. Her Anomalitism universe is composed of numerous elements called anomalites, each existing independently yet capable of communicating and complementing one another. This interconnectedness reflects a harmonious and colorful vision of an alternate reality​. 

Anomalit’s “Planet An” project is an extension of her Anomalitism universe, exploring themes of individuality, freedom, and the future through various mediums, including 2D and 3D art, VR, and augmented reality. Anomalit creates a visually striking representation of a utopian world where elements, or anomalites, exist independently yet harmoniously interact, symbolizing a brighter, more inclusive future. 


Mystery by Kate Anomalit

FVCKRENDER

Frédéric Duquette (AKA FVCKRENDER) is a Canadian 3D artist based in Vancouver. His journey into the digital art space began as a therapeutic hobby following a severe cycling accident that left him unable to pursue his passion for cycling. This shift led him to explore 3D design and animation, eventually turning it into a full-time career.

FVCKRENDER is celebrated for his intricate 3D creations that often blend organic and mechanical elements, creating otherworldly and futuristic landscapes. His work is known for its highly detailed and immersive nature, drawing viewers into dreamlike environments. He has collaborated with prominent brands and artists, including Dior, Supreme, and Lil Nas X, and his art has been showcased at major auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s​​.

A significant milestone in his career was the launch of the FVCKRENDERVERSE, a virtual metaverse that allows users to explore his art in a fully immersive digital environment. His 3D work has recently blossomed into physical sculptures and jewelry of the chain-link motif that he established as a personal signature in his digital work. 

FVCKRENDER’s creative process is deeply intuitive and personal, often described as a form of journaling through visual art. Having first developed an art practice as a personal kind of therapy, Duquette has stayed true to this intuitive approach, drawing inspiration from his emotions and the world around him, focusing on creating pieces that resonate on a spiritual and aesthetic level. 


REWIRE// by FVCKRENDER

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