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Winners Announced
January 2021

Underground City Challenge

22nd CG Boost Art Challenge for 3D Artists - Improve your 3D Skills!

Submissions received
Artwork by
Giorgio Grecu

Underground City Challenge winners announced!

For our 22nd challenge, we received 88 submissions and discovered many strange and mysterious underground cities.

Our jury had a good but also hard time judging all the great accepted submissions. Each judge voted for their own top 5 artworks. We also picked three random winners for the challenge raffle, see all the winners below.

Regrading the prizes, we will contact the winners during the next few days.

Congrats to the winners and honorable mentions, and a big THANK YOU to our sponsor and everyone for taking part!

Now scroll down to see the winners.

Artwork by
Giorgio Grecu
How to participate

First of all, choose your side.

Judging Criteria
Judging Criteria

Further questions? Find more info in our FAQ section.

Participate Now

Submit your work.

Select your arena *

Please submit the following two files:
1. A screenshot or clay render of your 3D scene
2. Your final render
Please use the following naming convention for your files:
Final Render: Your_Name_final (e. g. "Zach_Reinhardt_final.jpg")
Screenshot/Clay Render: Your_Name_wip (e. g. "Zach_Reinhardt_wip.jpg")

Thank you!

We will review your submission and then add it to our submission folder above. If your submission is invalid or missing something, you will be informed in a timely manner.
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Frequently asked questions.

Where do I ask questions about the challenge?
Can I update my entry after I submitted it already, if I notice a mistake?
Can I share my artwork online before the challenge is over?
When I win the challenge, can I get cash instead of the prizes?
Can I enter both categories at the same time?

Get to know our jury.

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Winners: Pro Arena

Let’s see who has won in the Pro Arena.

Let’s see who has won this challenge.


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1st Place

Akhil Alukkaran

We’re congratulating Akhil Alukkaran for winning the first place!

Follow Akhil:

Akhil about his entry:

“Look what I found!

A thousand years, the city was safe under this giant oak tree. It is hard to believe that we lost most of what we called home. Now we will have to find another place, and it is time to leave all this behind.

I started to work on the project 3 days before deadline, however I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do even before that. I tried to work with the idea of a city in a different scale. The initial idea was a lot different from the final result. I had to compromise on certain things because of time, but also needed to make sure to achieve a good quality result.

I used a few 3d scanned materials and elements to build the basic environment. For the buildings, I just used basic primitives and some photo textures. It was hard to manage all of these in the remaining time. Also, dealing with multiple elements to achieve somewhat a good composition and to light it up properly was a challenge. This was really a great opportunity for me.“

Created using Blender and Photoshop.

Clay Render

What our jury says:

Lukas Walzer: “I love the amount of detail and storytelling going on here. Immediately, a whole world is unfolding.”

Cedric Van der Kelen: “nice storytelling and composition, could’ve used some better and consistent lighting (indirect sun would leave a harsh rim light). Well done.”

Aidy Burrows: “Good use of composition here, to lead the eye down into the hole where we catch the other details and understand the scale of the tiny city. Buildings the size of pocket watches. It feels like there is a larger story to tell, so it sparks the imagination, super well done.”

Amina Khan: “Exquisite story-telling, in astonishing detail. I personally love the mixture of mediums.”

Darko Vucenik: “Gulliver is robing secret underground stash of Lilliputians. The Level of detail in this image is amazing, yet the viewer is never lost in the scene as lighting guides the viewer well around the scene. Great image with excellent technical execution.”

Martin Klekner: “I really enjoy the idea of this image, this underworld city really made me look again and again, finding details I did not notice the first time. Really like the storytelling, as well as the composition. Maybe a bit more highlights / rim lights on the underground character, that would make it a bit more noticeable, would be great. Otherwise, I love this one.”

Juan Hernandez: “Good job making using daylight to make a focus point on the character’s hand. I like how the treasure works as a connection between the outside and the underground world. Great job!”

Ken Liang: “Very interesting! There’s a lot of details here, and they all do tell a story. At least in my interpretation, the young child is constantly giving this ‘civilization’ his unwanted toys and props to help them build their underground city. That would make an awesome school science project! Great composition and lighting helps direct focus to where the key interests are amidst all the details.”

Joseph Nickson: “An incredibly ambitious piece oozing story and cram packed full of detail. A little bit of breathing room may go a long way however to give the viewer extra focus on the story elements.”

Wybren van Keulen: “I have no idea what’s going on here, but t is intriguing. This image also shines with the use of heavy contrast to lead the eye. The amount of detail that went into all the pieces is crazy. But all of that could have gone to waste if you wouldn’t have done such a good job on the mud material!”

2nd Place

Lukas Langemeyer

We’re congratulating Lukas Langemeyer for winning the second place!

Follow Lukas :

Lukas about his entry:

“A long forgotten city built by an ancient society…
Finally, a project to play around with microdisplacement. And I really enjoyed lighting the cave.

I hope you like it 🙂“

Created using Blender.

Clay Render

What our jury says:

Lukas Walzer: “A simple composition, but the details are very realistically crafted and lend the image a great amount of credibility.”

Gregory Smith: “The design choices here make for a very intriguing image. There’s a lot going on, but it’s tightly controlled inside a bold composition.”

Aidy Burrows: “This is outstanding work! Really great use of the rock formation to serve as a sort of vignette. The amount of detail down in the ruins is great too. It’s not easy to light a scene like this, but you’ve managed to tie it into the excavation story nicely by using a flashlight and a sunbeam coming in with still enough detail and exposure to balance the bright foreground rocks and the main underground area. Great stuff!”

Amina Khan: “To be able to add so much depth in shadows is truly a talent. Well done! Fantastic piece.”

Ken Liang: “This artwork hits the mark when it comes to sticking with the theme. You can see the very vast ruin of what used to be an underground city, being explored by an archeologist/explorer. The climbing gears and ropes at the entry point is a nice touch as well. Great details in the city layout throughout the area, and great lighting atmosphere.”

Joseph Nickson: “Some lovely and well-thought-out lighting choices here with subtle atmosphere lightly framing the expanse of this lost city. Really fits the brief perfectly and gives the viewer a fantastic sense of exploration.”

Wybren van Keulen: “The high contrast framing of the bright foreground takes a while to notice, and the subtle touches of the climbing gear are the perfect touch to add a sense of scale to this scene. With my background of 15 years of architectural visualization, I know how difficult it is to convey the true grandness of a space, so well done!”

3rd Place

Ammer Daud

We’re congratulating Ammer Daud for receiving the third place!

Follow Ammer:

Ammer about his entry:

“In Jan 8, 2099 humanity found a new home “Planet Toi 700 d” about 101 light years away from earth.

A City known as Sapphire city a subterranean city becomes a safe city for refugees from a war that broke on earth.

Sapphire City is a military secret HQ. It’s also the only hidden safe zone where Kelphas (unknown species from Andromeda Galaxy) can’t reach for now.

And now Sapphire city is running out of resources.

Anna is waiting for her Father’s return, and the city is waiting for the resources that he will bring with him can only fulfill the city power requirements.

It took about 10 days to make this project as I was in middle of burdening university exams I had to manage time even more efficiently.

It’s my first time creating a large scale environment, so I deeply learned how to make environments in this challenge.

This tutorial was the most helpful one out there.“

Created using Blender, ZBrush, Marvelous Designer and Photoshop.

Clay Render

What our jury says:

Cedric Van der Kelen: “Very nice colors, mood and storytelling. Could’ve used some more elements.”

Gregory Smith: “A wonderful image; the narrative and mood are perfectly sold, whilst also conveying the scale of the underground city. Fabulous color, strong silhouettes: little, if anything, to find fault with.”

Darko Vucenik: “Very serene image with so much atmosphere. The sketchy feel of the surfaces reminds me of illustrations in sf magazines I read as a kid.”

Martin Klekner: “Great moody atmosphere coupled with a Ghost in the Shell vibe. I like the colors and the little details, like the post-it notes on the glass. Really like this one.”

Juan Hernandez: “Very appealing piece art. The lighting works perfectly and gives the image a lot of depth. For a moment I thought this was 2D, which makes me wonder how were these shaders put together to achieve this result. Well done!”

Ken Liang: “I like the overall treatment for this artwork. Initially I thought where’s the 3D in this, until I saw the clay render. That said, I think there are still noticeable traces of brush strokes in the paint over /touch ups in post, and the outline filters are somewhat too hard and pixelated for me. Other than that, great mood with the chosen color palette, and a very nice composition to read. Would also be better if you could somewhat populate the city even more to make it busier.”

Honorable Mention

Tushar Soni

We’re congratulating Tushar Soni for receiving an honorable mention!

Follow Tushar:

Tusharn about his entry:

“My idea was to make an ancient underground city, so I searched some references on the internet and after trying a couple of ideas I landed on this idea. It was quite fun and interesting time to work on this project.

I love making volumetric scenes, so I also worked with volumetrics in this scene. Your challenges really helped me a lot in improving my 3d skills.“

Created using Blender and Photoshop.

Clay Render

What our jury says:

Lukas Walzer: “A simple yet very effective choice of composition, lighting and colors. The soft gradients make it very pleasing to look at!”

Darko Vucenik: “Mysterious underground temple. This piece has a very Lara Croftish feel to it. I love the stonework, composition and volumetric lighting coming from the surface.”

Juan Hernandez: “Nice colors and atmosphere. I like these cold tones of blue mixed with green. Using water to divide your environment is a good choice as well.”

Amina Khan: “I love how the moss is homely, yet overgrown. Perhaps indicative of the adventures to be found ahead. Very tranquil story-telling. “

Wybren van Keulen: “I love the softness of the rocks, the lighting and the vegetation – but mostly how it all blends together so well to form a humid cave atmosphere.”

Honorable Mention

Kay John Yim

We’re congratulating Kay John Yim for receiving an honorable mention!

Follow Kay:

Kay about the entry:

“China – arguably the longest continuous civilization – while known for its plethora of art and culture, still has yet a lot of unknown history to be unearthed.

One of the legendary historical sites is the Hanging Temple (悬空寺) in the Chinese City Datong – a 1,500-year-old architectural wonder hanging on a sheer precipice. Little do people know that the Hanging Temple is just the tip of the iceberg – deep underneath Datong lies the city of temples dedicated to Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. An underground city, once the most advanced and most worshiped center of Datong, had been gradually covered and detached from the outside world due to frequent catastrophic landslides in the past century.

The city of temples was completely shut off after the 1976 Tangshan Earthquake (唐山大地震), and has since been reclaimed by nature. It is believed that only ones with the most innocents minds – free from turmoil and resentment – would be invited into the hidden underground city of temples, and to be able to catch a glimpse of Buddhist’s “Pure Land”.

The final image took me about 3-4 days to complete from concept to final rendering. In the midst of learning Houdini, the challenge gave me an opportunity to learn how to procedural model and texture cliff rocks in Houdini, texturing in Substance Painter and eventually shading in Redshift.”

Created using Cinema4D, Redshift, Houdini, Substance Painter and ZBrush.

Clay Render

What our jury says:

Aidy Burrows: “The vast scale and epic composition of this image is awesome! Great use of lighting here too, while also adding extra intrigue to the story with the bright blue butterflies. There’s a lot to stop and wonder about here and let the imagination be swept along by what’s beyond and out of the frame.”

Wybren van Keulen: “I love this “genre” of images portraying the awe of discovery! It’s a beautiful scene on its own, but without the two observers it wouldn’t be a discovery, and it would lose much of its scale. Add to that the soft back lighting, and it is a very strong render.”

Highlights: Training Arena

Let’s see how our newcomers have performed.

Raffle Winners

Learn who’s won our raffle.


  • Aleksandr Smirnov
  • Marc Folch Olivella
  • Marcos Rodriques

The sponsors and supporters of this challenge.