We are overwhelmed by the incredible community turn out for the Mission to Minerva Challenge – more than 32,000 Artists from 174 countries came together with thousands of concepts and animations submitted! The challenge included the opportunity to download our free Mission to Minerva Kit and contribute to creating the Minerva Galaxy. In this article we’ve had the chance to hear directly from each of the Top 3 winners in both the In-Motion and Concept categories.
Our judges panel included industry leaders and recruiters from ILM, Riot Games, CD Projekt Red, Netflix, and NASA, and a prize pool from partners like ArtStation, Wacom, Nvidia, The Gnomon Workshop, and CG Spectrum. Read on below to hear how the winning pieces were created!
Concept Art Winners
1st Place: Gavin Manners
Instagram • ArtStation
“My main inspiration were photos of earth from space stations. I gathered a few images before sketching out a rough composition. I then went about trying to create the shot and design the station using only the KitBash3D models from the Minerva Kit, but use the parts in a more interesting way than just straight out of the box. So I used modifiers and booleans to make new and interesting shapes to make my space station. It was really satisfying coming up with happy accidents whilst playing around with the parts. I think the strength of a good KitBash3D set is if you can use the parts in unconventional ways.
The original composition involved some kind of terraforming laser, but I pivoted slightly when I added the characters in the foreground having the accident, with the laser there was too much going on in the composition so I added a ship docking in the background instead, to bring the focus back to the character's story. And that also meant I got to design a ship with the parts too which was super fun!”
Judge Paweł Mielniczuk wrote of the piece: “Captivating composition, color choices, and lighting are all expertly done. Broad spectrum of light and shadow contrasts adds to the depth and clarity of the composition. Together with an intriguing narrative layer depicting a snapshot of a drama unfolding in space, this illustration truly stands out in the competition. Fantastic work!”
"Wow! We're proud to have sponsored the latest KitBash3D challenge. Mission to Minerva took us on an incredible journey with so many stunning projects. Congratulations to all the artists who participated!” - ArtStation
2nd Place: Logan Turner
Instagram • ArtStation
“From the beginning I had a good idea of the narrative and composition I wanted already in my head. One thing I was curious about was to try a low angle image but not show any sky, I thought this might play interestingly with the scale. I started sketching directly in Blender with some assets and simple geo to work out the composition and refine my concept. From there some new ideas for the color scheme and smaller details were realized, specifically the water elements and foliage. I toyed with adding in some more monstrous alien creatures which would indicate what happened to the settlement but I ultimately decided it was better left up to the imagination for this image. The final ended up being mostly 3D with about 20% overpaint and final touches."
Judge Devon Fay wrote: “I can’t stop looking for more details in this entry. What caused this? How long ago did this happen? Who are these people that are looking at the site? This sort of execution is exactly what I think makes a strong concept piece. It tells a story, but leaves so much room for the viewer to fill in the blanks. Super well done and a beautiful image!”
"The quality of the entries was insane! The assets provided by KitBash3D gave a fantastic platform for artists to explore their imagination without borders." - The Rookies
3rd Place: Marvin Funke
Instagram • ArtStation
“For my submission "Refinery," I thought of a new planet on which a special substance is available, which could solve the problem of the lack of resources of people on the different planets, but can also cause conflict among people. My goal was to achieve good contrast with color and create a very moody charged image with depth. In addition, I wanted to create a large contrast in the scaling of the scene.
I used Blender with the Cycles renderer to create the artwork and Photoshop for the post production.
For the environment I first wanted to go for a exotic stony landscape with crystals which carries the substance, but then decided on a black volcanic landscape with the substance in yellow color for a cool contrast. I also thought that the calm dune landscape can give good space for the KitBash buildings to shine.
I used a big building from the Kit as a hero asset because the design particularly caught my eye and it was perfect as a "mining station." I modified this a bit. I created an entrance for the ships in the middle part, which allowed them to pick up the yellow refined substance. I also made the railing even smaller with more elements to make the size of the station appear even more powerful when a person is standing at the railing. In addition, the station had to look even dirtier by refining the substance, so I gave it a yellowish dirt in Blender.
For the volcanic sand with the yellow substance I rendered it twice, once with black volcanic sand and once with the same sand but yellow in color. In Photoshop I then put the two sands on top of each other and painted the part that should be yellow. I also used Photoshop to give the scene more depth and for the final color look. I also added film grain and a slight lens flare for a cinematic overall look.”
Judge Paullina Weeks wrote: “I like how simple and to the point this piece is. It's well-executed technically, but I want to know what it doesn't show in the image. You are left wondering where the crafts are coming from, what they are carrying, and what the settlement is working on - is it something top secret or to keep a colony moving forward? I can see the KitBash3D assets, and the artist did a great job meeting the challenge.”
“What a great way to bring the creative community together and inspire each other! The Mission to Minerva empowered emerging artists all over the world, and the entries were truly impressive. We're proud to be part of this mission, and look forward to supporting the winners further on their creative journeys.” - CG Spectrum
1st Place: Oren Cloud
Instagram • ArtStation
“I decided to take part in the challenge 10 days after it started, so I had to make everything work in 40 days. I spent the first three days making storyboards and animatics. I find it crucial to experiment with a rough edit before locking everything down for production.
Once I was satisfied with the concept and the pre-viz, I started the animation process. With this deadline, I had to make from scratch 1 to 3 scenes every day while rendering at night.
The biggest challenge was definitely the character animation. I had to learn how to lip sync and how to film my own reference for the body movements. It's also the longest animation I've ever put together so I learned a lot from a filmmaking standpoint. Especially when it comes to editing together a scene with multiple camera angles, sound designing creatures and vehicles, pacing a story and so on. This was the perfect chance to test new workflows and apply what I learned in the past few years.”
Judge Michael Lentz wrote: “This is a great vision of Minerva, the assets were used to support the story and not be the story. There is a wonderful overall atmosphere for the animation. The environment and color grading really adds to being drawn into the story. The design work on this is extremely well thought out lending to strong visuals. The storyline keeps you engaged and combined with the strong visuals leaves you wanting to see more.”
“We’ve had a blast supporting the Mission to Minerva Challenge by KitBash3D and watching all the incredible entries pour in throughout the contest timeline. The winning images are truly a testament to the amazing talent in this industry and speak to the impeccable quality of the Minerva KitBash3D Kit that was made available to all — for free!” - The Gnomon Workshop
2nd Place: Menno Snoek
Instagram • ArtStation
“I spent around a month on the animation and I honestly can't remember anymore where the idea came from. But I started by blocking out all the camera locations in Blender. After this I like to put them all together in one file to have that as a "directing" file.
The next step was filling in all the scenes. I often start with the thing that's in focus or is animated in the scene. For example the scenes where the carts are driving I only had the carts and a few simple blocks as background. After I was happy with the flow and clarity of the story I moved on to adding in all the details. Somewhere along this process I found the lighting and coherent style that works with it all, and in the end I apply that to every scene and try to match it.
The last step is adding it all into After Effects for the effects and transitions. After which I load the AE project into Premiere to do the colors. I also do all my sound design inside Premiere (even though my friends in the sound world hate me for it). But I do use programs like audacity and voicemod outside of Premiere.”
Judge Shannon Wiggins wrote: “Great use of multiple environments and KitBash3D assets to portray a working base and the robotic nature of the future. The mood changes from one of hope to one of wondering what went wrong through the great editing and storyline. All assets feel well integrated and in service of the story - nice touch with the lighting changes across the scene - loved the opening shot as the craft flew past the flag and into the settlement.”
"We were excited to team up with KitBash3D and sponsor such a cool challenge! We are so proud of our 3D community and we can't wait to continue to partner with KitBash3D for another adventure. Congratulations to all the winners and may you continue to build new worlds!" - Wacom
3rd Place: Bourne VFX
Instagram • ArtStation
“The idea for the piece began with a planet with karst topography that, through the process of terraformation, reintroduced liquid water to an environment where water had once existed. As water is one of the building blocks of life, its presence would be the catalyst for a dormant life form to reemerge with horrifying consequences.
The planet is named Daedalus after the figure from Greek mythology who crafted the Labyrinth. I was inspired by the films Prometheus, Alien, and The Fly. I began with rough storyboards that then I took into Cinema 4D for lighting and animation. I wanted to take the piece from the surface of the planet to the more moody underworld, and shift lighting from golds and purples to more blues and reds. The piece was rendered in Arnold and composited in After Effects.”
Judge Shannon Wiggins wrote: “I loved the story - I felt pulled in from the first frame. The environments pulled the narrative forward, but were also well integrated with multiple elements (models, sky, props and character). Great use of multiple environments, and added detail to each scene - I appreciated the cinematography and lighting in this piece as well.”
We could not be more grateful to every member of the community for making this an incredible challenge! Head to our Mission to Minerva page to see all of the winners and finalists, and learn more about this latest #KB3Dchallenge. We are already brainstorming for the next one and don't hesitate to drop us a line on social media if you have a great idea for what we could build next!