2nd Place #KB3Dcontest Concept winner: David Arno Schwaiger

2nd Place #KB3Dcontest Concept winner: David Arno Schwaiger

David entered the Post-Apocalypse #KB3Dcontest with a total of three entries, and you can probably imagine -- we had a difficult time deciding which one we would like to crown as a winner. After some deep deliberation and soul searching, the team agreed that this forlorn landscape deserved the take the 2nd place prize for the concept category. 

David, what is your mindset like before beginning a project like this? 

I am a big dreamer. During these diffuse moments of waking or falling asleep, I allow myself to visualize all kinds of imaginative places. Most people who fall asleep "normally" (without occupying their mind with audiobooks or Netflix until the very last conscious breath) know these "visions". They are like a grotesque mix of impressions you can’t knowingly process during the day. A great resource for art. It’s funny how your mind can - without any effort - take you to certain places you’d willingly never go. So, purposely harvesting these "free-floating" moments of creation is definitely a starting point for me when it comes to approaching any project. Especially for fictional settings like a dystopia or utopia. Next, I look for real-life photo references. If I get lucky, I find footage grounded in real life that has a base resemblance to the pictures in my dreams. If not, I’ll bash a base plate of photos together in Photoshop. On top of this backdrop, I roughly paint shapes of the most prominent buildings - just to block out a composition for later arranging the assets provided via the KitBash3d kits.

What is the story or emotion you wanted to evoke with your entry?

First, I think a place of total destruction simply holds a great fascination for me. It is an uncanny setting for us civilized human beings. Just that. Second, on the surface, my entry seems pretty straight forward: ruinous structures, total devastation, no sign of life, all hope abandoned. There is no more use for repair, for maintenance or rebuilding! No more story to tell. Right? This insight was key to my approach to your contest. I wanted to show a "final" place. A place for something new. A place where the spectator might envision a new beginning. So this way I left the storytelling solely to the imagination of the beholder. This was literally, my take on post-apocalypse.

Please take us through a step by step as to how you completed this project.

With a sketch from Photoshop, I moved on to Cinema4D, selected all the must-have buildings and arranged them. I then got more into detail. This time I probably used up all of your kits’ (Aftermath and Warzone) buildings. Next came the tricky part: I work on an old MacBook Pro that does not support the use of any cool ray-tracing renderers like redshift or octane. (But wait until I get my new computer!) So I had to adjust the lighting and texture as close as possible to the real-world feel of my backdrop using Cinema’s physical render engine. Always a hard thing to do, since I am a relative newbie when it comes to physically accurate renderings. Anyways, then came the part I enjoy the most: paint over in Photoshop. As you will see in my breakdown, I go a long way from my renders in Cinema to the final composition in Photoshop. Searching for additional texture I could add on top of the render, I skimmed through hundreds of photos. I picked up certain details here, cut out whole portions of buildings here and there. Great fun! Entering the final stage I enhanced the overall mood of the frame by painting additional atmospheric elements (clouds, haze. light rays, dust). And then, to put a worthy end to the whole process, I did color grading. That’s it!

Below are the breakdowns of my other two entries for the contest.


Wow! Thanks for sharing the detailed breakdowns of your entries, so how long have you been an artist? How did you get here?

I remember my parents painting in our living room. My dad painted portraits and still life in oil on big canvas. With the always curious eye of a kid, I soaked up every aspect of my parent's artistic endeavor. Later in high school, I played bass in a rock band. And as rock bands go, somebody had to create artwork for album covers and posters. So I did my first explorations in photography, typography, color grading, retouching, etc. Back then I started using Photoshop, damn… this was more than 20 years ago!

I grew up in the middle of the woods in Upper Austria. After school, I left my "redneck" childhood behind and moved to Austria’s capital city Vienna to study film. Early on I engaged in various student and passion projects: the best breeding ground for creative minds to explore and express. Around this time I did my first professional gigs as an editor for cinema, television, and commercial productions. I also directed several commercials and documentary films. Despite earning a living in the film industry I continuously followed my passion for painting and designing my own artworks. I need to do personal projects besides client work.

Over the years I honed my skills in various disciplines: photography, writing, painting, film, 3D, graphic design, web design. I know I am a damn good film editor, but I love to express myself in various creative fields. I simply can’t do just one thing.

Since September 2019 I've been employed as a "creative" ( at least my email signature says so ;-) ) at the film production company Das Rund (in English: a circular shape). Das Rund (R&) is unlike any other company I’ve worked for: like-minded, altruistic people with the common goal to inspire each other and create art responsibly. Next to editing, I develop concepts for TV-series and feature film, do art direction, web design, and the occasional concept art. A holistic set of content creation. Big fun!

To close my story I want to emphasize one thing: the playful skills I acquired during my years as a teenage bass player and pseudo graphic designer, are what I value the most. They are my creative base, my place of freedom, and therefore my most precious toolset of artistic expression. I have since come to realize, if people let me, I can’t do anything wrong.

And finally, why do you make art? 

I am a kid of the early 80's science-fiction generation. Films and books from this period had a deep routing impact on my aesthetic perception of reality. Its characters, stories, shapes, lights, and texture gave me a strong reference and I unwillingly drive towards seeing the world through a »fictitious« lens. That is probably why I have a strong urge to create something fantastically unreal. I guess, I simply want to constantly recreate the joy of being a little kid. Roaming around in a world full of wonders.

Are you making anything for #BrightArtDarkTimes?

This is what I have come up with for #BrightArtDarkTimes, its called "Random Utopia". I have also created a breakdown of the scene below.

 Great Bright Art David! Thanks for this excellent in-depth look at your winning contest entry and the other pieces of your artistic journey and career. We hope to see many more personal projects from you. 

For more information about our free Utopia Kit, make sure to check out the Bright Art Dark Times blog post here.


David Arno Schwaiger directs and edits films in variable shapes. At times he creates science fiction concept art. Storytelling is his persuasion and believes films can change our lives.

He is currently employed with Das Rund in Vienna.

Feel free to contact him d@davidas.at or follow him on ArtStation and Instagram

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