3D Photorealistic Digital Art

Designing realistic human forms has long been a prized goal of the world’s digital artists. Small details made us realize whether the person we were looking at was real or simply a 3D model. Now better design techniques, modeling software improvements and more powerful hardware are enabling 3D designers and artists to render models that are almost indistinguishable from real-life objects. Unless of course, a subtle change gives it away – like a swamp frog smoking a cigar.

These 20 amazing works of digital art – depicting fictional characters, environments, historical personalities and celebrities – demonstrate how artists can produce works that are in essence indistinguishable from reality.
So sit back, relax and feast your eyes on these beautiful works without wondering whether they’re real – they’re not. But could you tell the difference?

Phil Heath fan art by Gaurav Kumar

Gaurav sculpted this wonderful study of human anatomy in ZBrush and rendered it in KeyShot. The photorealism of this work is fantastic and it even transfers to 3D printing!

A cricket in the house is good luck by Courtney Hopkinson

Courtney brought the superstition ‘A cricket in the house is good luck’ to life by using a combination of V-Ray for Cinema 4D, ZBrush texturing, and architectural visualization from Evermotion.

Guesthouse by Benjamin Springer

Benjamin spent weeks working with Cinema4D and Corona render for this project. This beautiful piece contains 24 million polygons and takes 36 hours to render on an i73930 with 32GB RAM!

Abraham Lincoln by ShaoNian (少 年)

The detailed wrinkles, especially under the eyes, are what make this ZBrush sculpt of Abraham Lincoln come to life.

Old frog by Daniel Midholt

Daniel took some shots of a swamp he lives nearby and got to working with Maya and ZBrush to put this grumpy frog into the scene. 

The Table by Marlindo Dias Pontes

Marlindo used photographic references to create this scene by using 3ds Max, V-Ray, Marvelous and Photoshop.

Big Friendly Giant by Brett Sinclair

Brett got inspired by Disney’s BFG to create this piece in ZBrush, textured it in Mari and rendered in Maya with the Arnold plug-in.

Portrait of a wolf by Felix Benjamin Bader

Felix created this portrait as a part of a fine art book print project by using ZBrush for sculpturing, Mari for texturing and Maya with Arnold for rendering. He did the fur in Shave and Haircut with some postproduction in Photoshop.

Woods by Leon Labyk

Leon used nature models he had created in Maya and textured with Megascans atlases, optimized them with PBR textures to make the scene suitable for VR. Rendered in CryEngine V. 

Old Man by Valentin Erbuke

Valentin Erbuke took up the challenge of aged human skin and upped the difficulty by adding a full spectrum of interaction with light. He textured the model with Texturing.xyz.

Black Rose by Piotr Rusnarczyk

Piotr played around with a stock model and Arnold renderer for Maya to create this wonderful piece.

Stalemate by Luis Deckard

‘Stalemate’ was inspired by Craig Mullins’ concept and modeled in ZBrush, detailed in XYZ and textured in SP and Mari, rendered in Arnold.

Barbara Palvin by Galal Mohey

Galal worked with Mohamed Alaa to sculpt this model in ZBrush and enhance it with Texturing.XYZ maps. Rendering was done in Arnold using ALshaders and Xgen for hair.

H.A.S.H. by Piotr Rusnarczyk

Piotr Rusnarczyk strikes again! He used Photoshop to tweak the texture and ZBrush for this study of skin shaders. Rendered in Octane.

Portrait of Sean Frandsen by Ian Spriggs

Ian Spriggs says this work was inspired by Vermeer’s ‘Girl with the Pearl Earring’. Modeled in Maya, sculpted/textured by using Mudbox, rendered in V-Ray with some touch ups done in Photoshop.

Dick Smith by Kris Costa

Dick Smith notes that this is a ‘work in progress’, sculpted and textures polypainted in ZBrush. The artist created his own textures, alphas and brushes for this portrait.

Daniel Craig portrait by Luc Bégin

Luc created this model in V-Ray for 3ds Max, did the hair with Ornatrix and rendered it in Corona renderer.

Super Sweet by Yilu Hao

Yilu used ZBrush, Substance Painter and Maya with Arnold to produce this wonderful piece.
W Churchill portrait by Eduardo Simon

Eduardo used ZBrush, KeyShot and Photoshop to create this amazing model of Churchill.

Woody Allen by Zbygnek Kysela


Zbygnek used ZBrush and Maya with Arnold to create this stunning model of his favorite personality.

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