Gorgeous CG Art made with Blender | Student Reel 2023

Dec 12th 2023

The CG Cookie community has been contributing gorgeous Blender art into the ether for over 10 years. 2023 was no exception.

This year we want to kickoff a new annual tradition: Student Reels!

We've been hand-picking a list of head-turning artwork from the Gallery, Exercise submissions, Discord, and Social Networks since January. It's profoundly rewarding to see students apply what they've learned in unique, jaw-dropping ways.

Featured Artwork & Artists


This is one of the best Pothead course results I've seen over the course's two year lifespan. The metallic material is stunning, the character authentically realized from the artwork, and no detail left under developed. Top-shelf work, Geoffrey!


SHEILA5, Museum

Sheila submitted this to the SESSIONS Minimalism exercise and it dropped my jaw when I saw it. Like something directly from the Third and the Seventh short film, which is a top compliment I can give to an architectural render.

Sheila goes way back with CG Cookie, developing her skills for years. It's an honor to feature such a long term student!


TOBIAS SCHMID, Stylized Tropical Landscape

Another stand-out SESSIONS Minimalism exercise submission. With sessions exercises I always look for unique interpretation and, for the graphic landscape specifically, a distinct identity. Tobias achieved this beautifully with the tropical environment and neon-like contrast. Awesome work, Tobias!


UTOPIC LIGHT, Retro Game Handheld

We see a lot of great PRESS START course results which means it's a high bar to stand out. But Utopic Light has done it! The transparent shell means additional internal components must be created AND still fit the overall style.

We were all thoroughly impressed by this one. Keep up the good work, Utopic!



As one of the first SESSIONS Macro exercise submissions, I was shocked to see such an impressive result so soon. David utilized a pre-existing photo-scanned coffee bean model, which perfectly fits the utilitarian principle taught in sessions. This allowed him to showcase  a brief narrative, including multiple camera angles and second rigid body sim of the beans roasting. Great job, David.


ANDY BEGG, Dice Roll

Andy also got to work on SESSIONS Macro exercises quickly. Though he admits going beyond the 2-hour rule (goal really), the render is better for it! The craps table adds so much to the scene's context and overall appeal. And how about some appreciation for the soft, fuzzy felt table surface 🤩


DAMON LEBON, Rivet Workout Short Animation

When Damon submitted a short film for his 'basic' weight lift animation exercise, his passion and natural talent shone bright. I decided to help push his skills further through mentorship.

Due to international time zones, he woke up in the middle of his night for some live feedback during Office Hours. I think his dedication and passion is on display in the final result. Not only does he have a great show reel piece, but it's also a demonstration of what not to do when you're at your at the gym.

Well done Damon.


PAWEL SOMOGYI, Portrait of a Woman

This is the second portrait of Pawel's that has been featured in a CG Cookie Reel! Pawel has leveraged what he's learned from the HUMAN course to the point that he could teach a course about realistic human portraiture.

Sometimes my brain still gets confused about whether this is a render or photo. Keep pushing CG portraiture to the next level, Pawel!



With this exercise I look for a sense of photorealism and large scale. Both are checked off the list and the detail achieved in the sand displacement is *chefs kiss*. Unfortunately exercise submissions aren't publicly accessible so I can share a link.

I LOVE when students are willing to learn from older courses. Despite the Sand Dunes course releasing 4 years ago, Svetlana beautifully executed the project in 2023. Or...December 2022 actually. Still counts since I'm publishing this in December 2023 😎


SAN, Isometric Bedroom

San went hard at the isometric low poly room exercise from the Fundamentals of Mesh Modeling course. Everything appealing about isometric rooms is present here: the tiny details garnishing every corner of the scene, the tactile materials that make everything feel real, the warm light of an inviting space. Very well done, San!


KIM VAN GRIEKEN, Graphic Landscape

Another SESSIONS exercise that made my eyes go wide. Kim's design incorporates a much higher level of detail while still maintaining a simplified graphic aesthetic. I'm a sucker for detail and pleasing color schemes. I want to visit this place in my dreams. Wonderful work, Kim!



Speaking of places I'd like to visit in my dreams, this beautiful stylized forest also makes the list. We've received many versions of this forest exercise over the years and this one just might be the goat. Amazing work, Daria!


ULF NILSSON, Abstract Hallway

The challenge of the hallway exercise is to maximize visual interesting using the combination of simple shapes and light / shadow. Ulf's hallway is a striking example. It transports me to a surreal location that's realistic enough to feel believable but just odd enough to feel alien or ancient. So much is being done here with so little.


VALERIE PULLAM, Architectural Visualization

As a submission to the museum exercise, I like that the sofa paints a more residential or business picture instead. Though I'm a sucker for detail, I believe the simplicity of the room is a major asset to the composition. Brutalist shapes encourages the viewer to spend all their focus in the right place: the sofa.


ANDY BEGG, Interior Tree

Making a second appearance, Andy also made a splash with his museum exercise submission. It gives me the unique sensation of being in an abandoned shopping mall; not unlike one I used to visit as a kid. The power to transport the viewer, leveraging realism as a catalyst - it's one of my favorite things about Blender.

You did it again, Andy!


ODUNOV, Old Man Portrait

Odunov is no stranger to Staff Picks section of our gallery. When he posted the work-in-progress of this portrait on discord, I knew it was the beginning of something great. The final did not disappoint.

Keep making amazing portraits, Odunov!



Remember when I said I like when students learn from older courses? Maybe Hugo is trying to set a record by leveraging an 8-yr-old curriculum to make this incredible helmet. Not only is the design unique, gorgeously crafted, edges sharp, shapes strong, fantastic materials...he even animated it opening/closing! This is next level.

Major props to you, Hugo 👏




One of my favorite submissions to the planet exercise. The cinematic drama, the mystique of's amazing what the right artist can do with a few spheres, procedural textures, and Eevee. Fantastic work, Ingrid!


NEALE GENEREUX, Looping Pattern

The looping patterns exercise is another example of generating substantial visual interest with the least ingredients. No models, no lighting - just an animated procedural texture pattern.

Like any moving render, Neale's pattern transports me to an abstract place. Maybe space, maybe not. The hot swirling is both mesmerizing and beautiful. Great stuff, Neale!


TC, Greek Temple

I don't know if this one is intentionally Greek, or a temple, but that's certainly the vibe I got. There's an ancient undertone and grandeur that conveys a sacredness about the space. I really appreciate that TC used a round room instead square, resulting in very interesting shapes for the light to interact. Well done, TC!


DAVID DECKERT, Spiral Hallway

Often I say these renders "transport me". When a render (or any artwork) immediately detaches me from reality and takes my brain or emotion somewhere else, that's a big sign of success in my experience.

This render is like something out of a mild nightmare. Paired with the familiar chair, realistic lighting and materials trick my brain into thinking it's a believable place while the shrinking spiral walls quickly suggest otherwise. Contrast like this makes for an very memorable viewing experience. Impressive concept and execution, David!


FERNANDO MELO, Tentacles From Above

More nightmare fuel! Fernando's interpretation of the museum exercise is extremely unique with its harsh angular structure, creepy wheelchair and teddy bear, and ominous giant tentacles. The eerie green tone and foggy atmosphere are the cherry on top, taking this render to new heights. Wonderful composition, clever use of pre-existing assets, and overall execution Fernando!



With a record-setting third feature, Kim's planet is candy to my eye balls. The additional nebula details in the background, swirly gas giant texture, and cinematic composition are fantastic. There's also a slight painterly quality that I find very appealing.

Kim, you've submitted a ton of incredible artwork this year. It took a lot of self control for me to not feature them all!


AALMA DO LUAR, Fish Sculpt

With hundreds of submissions, the shark sculpting exercise has many stand-outs. Though technically the criteria requires the sculpt be based on the provided concept art, some say rules are meant to be broken.

Aalma not only sculpted a unique fish with loads of character, they also sketched the concept art it's based on. That's kind of amazing.



Another aquatic sculpt by Juan Gonzalez who seems to be more of a rule-follower. This particular character design from the concept art is dripping with personality and tricky to translate into 3D.

Maybe I should clarify: tricky if you're not Juan Gonzalez.



Hugo's second feature, this beautiful render captures a crisp sunrise (or sunset) in the mountains. It's so believable and peaceful. I thoroughly enjoy his extraordinary version of the dew drop exercise.

Hugo, never stop giving 110% to your projects!


THALESTR, Industrial Garage

Thalestr absolutely crushed this project based on the realistic Eevee environment course. It's an exquisite showcase of realistic rendering with our favorite "real time" render engine.

Be sure to check out Thalestr's profile for more impressive work!


SOPHIE GRANTFORD, Rivet & Fluffball Animated Short

So many of us dream of making an animated short film yet so few of us ever achieve it. Sophie is one of the few that made all the pieces come together in brilliant fashion! It's so impressive to not only complete a short film project but to do so at a high quality.

I could say much more but Sophie posted a great overview of her process you should read instead!


Honorable Mentions

Out of the 50 artworks we invited to the candidate list, 28 were ultimately featured the final reel. These folks have earned a shout-out as well!


Kent Trammell
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