"altruism" :::: Surreal Reality challenge

High-res version (1600x669 pixels)

The Challenge
I’ve been working for the last 2 months on an entry for a little challenge at
the Danish 3D community3dmaxer.dk with the strange and mind boggling theme
“Surreal Reality”. Deadline for the challenge is October 1st, this Sunday.

The Piece
“altruism” has a surrealistic touch to it and a deep message flowing through it
as well. It depicts an in my opinion very important part of life, reality, in a
surrealistic and symbolic way. Ultimately, it’s up to the spectator what he/she
feels it is about. In the wip stage I commented on peoples interpretations for
the sake of critique being more pointed towards what I wanted to show, but
I will not do that anymore. This image is out of my hands by now, and the
spectator is now trusted with the task of making their own interpretations,
think if something doesn’t make sense. I’m not gonna answer anymore questions
regarding this matter, though I’ll still enjoy reading people’s thoughts on the

The technical aspects
Rendering times ended up being about 7-8 hours for all layers all together in the
native resolution 2868x1200 pixels. There is somewhere about 40.000 characters
in the image, the biggest part rendered on 2D alpha planes distributed by
particle systems. The foremost 40 characters are full 3D and posed by hand.

Post-processing + hand painting
The image is post-pro’ed in Photoshop and the background mountains are
hand painted in here as well (no wacom). Also, the clouds are a one of the
panoramas found in this forum (it’s a sticky somewhere), yet I did some pretty
detailed hand painting and retouching to remove some of the 2D look and
add more volumetric feel to the clouds.

Thanks for the enormous and great feedback in the focused critique forum
everyone! It’s been a blast working on this, having so many and great
comments to work with!

Hope you like it! I’ve been working hard and long on this baby, and will enjoy
hearing anything you have to say about it!:slight_smile:

First Comment!

Great job, I love it!

Hope it wins, and even if it doensn’t it will be one of my wallpapers for a VERY VERY long time



Very nice! I may be mistaken, but it appears that there are some small rendering artifacts here and there in the image. I watched your thread in the Focused critique section, and I really liked your idea about the planes and normal mapping for some of the crowd. How did that work without the full normal mapping support? Have any problems?

Really nice work. I especially like the lighting. :slight_smile:

  • Clean3d

ah yes i remember watching this in the focused critique section. wonderful image. you really pulled it together. wonderful image. impeccable in my eyes. 4 stars no doubt.

Verry nice, strong idea behind it
got manny stars from me

I’ve been following this one for a long time, and I’m glad to see that it turned out so wonderfully. Great work, onward!


very impressive artwork

Hey Mathias,

I’m impressed…more with the technical stuff than the actual art. I like the color, though.

There is somewhere about 40.000 characters
in the image, the biggest part rendered on 2D alpha planes distributed by
particle systems.

Question. Can you tell us how you did that? Or, are you going you post a “behind the scenes” kind of tutorial on your really cool website?:smiley:

Just a side note, I loved your depiction of the wise men and I also enjoyed the quality of your webpage and tutorials! Keep up the good work!

I like it very much!

Thanks for the extremely positive feedback and the (for the moment) 5 star rating.
I’m blown away. Thank you!

A couple of answers:

Clean3D: The so called “rendering artifacts” are there intentionally, part of the
slightly painted look I aimed for. My last project (Starry Night) had a film-like
look to it, but this time around I wanted a more painted quality to it.

About the normal maps. Actually didn’t ever really need them. Did no lighting
on the crowd planes (was already there in the diffuse maps), so they weren’t
really used for anything.

fmkguy: Distrubuting objects via particle systems isn’t really that hard. Have
a look at DupliVerts and you’ve got it.
Don’t really know if there’s enough basis for a tutorial this time around. Don’t
like to try to repeat a succes. Would need a really good reason to do another
in-depth project overview.
If I do anything of this kind, I guess it would be more centered on specific
techniques used in the image, rather than the entire process as a whole, yet
I don’t really know of anything to write about for the moment.

Everybody else: Thank you very very much!

This turned out very nice. Another great and emotional piece. You seem to havea knack for that.


Nice work and nice concept for a scene, as everyone else has said.
Good usage of different 2D and 3D techniques instead of brute force rendering.

aah, lovely! This is what I think when I see this render:

Somesort of god created a lot of men, all with a cross on their head. The god itself had a circle on his head. When he had created the last one, he gave that one his own circle. The man is greatfull for that gift, and drops a tear:)

Great, 5 stars. Never imagined I’d look up to someone younger than me, at least never thought about it, but I admire your work… awesome, looking forward to the next piece.

I have seen your hard work in the focused critique section already and I have to say, it is a very well exectued piece with wonderful compostion and colors. It is very obvious that you did not only think about technical details but also about the main aspects of traditional art, which is great, if you ask me :slight_smile:

Is what you’re saying is that some people try to be unique, but they really arn’t?

I know you won’t awnser, but I just wanted to throw that in there.

Wow… Great composition, and I really enjoyed watching the work in progress.

I never really understood how this is Altruism, though. Altruism means “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others” or “behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species”, but this shows no one benefiting?

I always interpreted it as one person standing out from the rest of the world, so he’s a total outcast that no one really notices (thus the partial transparency). Everyone else in the world is exactly the same; same look, same hard emotion (no specularity in anyone’s eyes but O’s).

Definite 5 stars from me, I don’t see a single flaw.

Great work Mathias,
Your Picture go directly to the message, and it’s good to see someone use this informatic tool to express siomething. Receive my 5 stars

Thanks for all the kinds words yet again!

Also interesting hearing different people’s ideas of the message of the piece…

I’ve lurked this forum for about four months and never have registered. So quick blurb, I enjoy blender, I’ve not had much time to practice with it, so I am a complete newbie.

That said, I must admit, you compelled me to finally join the forum, Mathias. I’ve been watching this in the Focused Critique section and have loved seeing the progress. You have a lot of talent and I really admire your work. Now that it is finally complete, I felt the need to just say thanks for making this. For a few reasons, it’s a very important picture to me.

Keep up the good work!