3D Contest List - Prominent CG Competitions

Moving Your Art Forward Through Competition

Because we believe so strongly in the positive impact of showing your artwork, we put together two new resources to complement our list of popular 3D forums and community sites.

If you're not already involved at a CG forum, it's something we highly recommend, and urge you to at least glance at link we provided.

However, if you've already got a favorite forum and came in search of fame and glory, read on! In the rest of this article, we'll focus on the numerous 3D art competitions available to aspiring modelers, animators, and visual effects artists:

Why You Should Participate in Contests:

A lone house. An image made using Blender 3D.
A lone house. An image made using Blender 3D. Mayqel GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Contests are an incredible way to move your art forward, because they often force you to work on concepts and subject matter outside your typical comfort zone, with the added benefit of competitive pressure & rigorous deadlines.

Whether you win or lose is beside the point—what's important is that contests are a surefire way to get an objective outside opinion on your work, and the public accountability makes it far more likely that you'll see your project through to the very end.

The majority of the 3D contests around the web are run by forums, software makers, and training providers, and have served as a breeding ground for some of the best talent in the industry.

Although many of the options on this list are more in the vein of "friendly challenge" then all-out competition, there are one or two with high enough profiles to literally launch your career if you were able to produce a winning (or highly placing) entry.

Many 3D contests are community organized, so there can be a lot of inconsistency as to how often they're run. Rather than putting together an unreliable list of every single CG competition we can think of, here are some of the most consistent:

The 3D Contest List:

Human eye with planet earth
Human eye with planet earth, computer artwork. VICTOR DE SCHWANBERG / Getty Images
  • CGChallenges & NVArt (at CGSociety) - Probably the biggest competitions of their kind. You can count on CGSociety to host at least one (usually two) massive contests a year, with high-profile sponsors (like NVidia, Autodesk, Pixologic), prizes worth thousands of dollars, and huge amounts of exposure for winners. When they open up, they usually stay open for two or three months, so you've definitely go plenty of time to put together something portfolio-worthy.​
  • Hardcore Modeling Challenge – OK, HMC is a really great community, and even beginner modelers will find that they're welcome here. But make no mistake—this is one of the most competitive modeling challenges on the web in terms of the level of talent it attracts and the difficulty of the prompts. If you can pull out a win here, you're well on your way. HCM runs monthly in the CGTalk forums, and topics are designed to push participants as hard as possible.​
  • The Speed Modeling Challenge (by 3DTotal) - I like this challenge a lot ​because the way it's designed you can't use time as an excuse for not entering. The Speed Modeling Challenge is run monthly, but here's the kicker—participants must adhere to a strict time limit (typically 60 or 90 minutes modeling time). Speed modeling is a good exercise, and I like to think most people can find 90 minutes to spare over the course of a month.​
  • Dominance War - Probably the most notorious competition on this list. DW has been run five times in six years, and it's an event. The major draw here is that Dominance War pits all the major CG forums against one another in a giant 3D Olympiad of sorts.​
  • The 11 Second Club - Finally something for the animators! This is a wonderful little competition put on every month by the fine folks at AnimationMentor.com, and much like 3DTotal's Speed Modeling Challenge, The 11 Second Club is designed to be manageable. You've got one month to produce 11 seconds of animation. AnimationMentor supplies an 11-second audio clip (usually dialogue), and participants are asked to create an animation for it. The prize? A professional critique from the AnimationMentor team.​
  • 3D Environment Competition (by e-on) - I've seen some incredible images come out of e-on's annual Vue contest, and they've usually got an impressive list of sponsors and judges. If you're into digital environment creation, here's your go-to.​
  • ConceptArt.org Community Activities - Again, CA isn't a 3D site, but there are some really good weekly contests here if you're working on your entertainment design skills. Character of the Week is the most popular of the bunch—you've got one week to design a character based on a prompt and produce a finished piece of concept art. CA hosts similar contests for creature, environmental, and industrial design. Weekly, all skill levels welcome.
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