Aquil Akhter November 22nd, 2009

50 Amazing Realistic CG Portraits

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Aquil Akhter

Aquil Akhter is a web graphic designer and has been working in...

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3-D computer graphics (CG) art is capable of generating the most eye-catching and incredible effects, and that’s why we love it. The extent to which 3-D CG can replicate human characteristics is simply unbelievable, It can generate graphic details that could easily be mistaken for live photography.

For this post, we have looked for truly fantastic artwork that demonstrates the incredible rendering power of CG. Have a look at these portraits and see for yourself how inspired you get.

Amazingly Realistic CG Portraits

Created by Andrea Bertaccini, using Maya, mental ray, Photoshop and ZBrush.

do you want fries with that?
Created by Albert Susantio of Australia, using Maya, mental ray, ZBrush and Photoshop.

Bravery! doughty! heroical
Created by Rui Dai of China, using 3ds Max, mental ray, Photoshop and ZBrush.

The Boxer
Created by Jeff Miller of the USA, using 3ds Max, Photoshop and ZBrush.

The last move
Created by Jose Mª Lazaro of Spain, using 3ds Max, BodyPaint, mental ray, Photoshop and ZBrush.

Dr. House
Created by Fabio Barretta, using Maya, mental ray and ZBrush.

Last Elf
Created by Piotr Fox Wysocki of Poland, using Maya, mental ray, Photoshop and ZBrush.

Created by Mauro Corveloni of Brazil, using Lightwave 3D, Photoshop and ZBrush.

Created by Joel Mongeon of the USA, using Lightwave 3D, Photoshop and ZBrush.

Created by Jacques Defontaine of Belgium. The base mesh was done in Modo, and the detailing done in Mudbox. The artist did about 80% of the textures in Mudbox and the rest in Modo. Shading, lighting and fur was rendered at the end in Modo 401.

Charging Kudu
Created by Bill Melvin of the USA, using Cinema 4D, Photoshop and ZBrush.

Rain Street
Created by MR Zhangnaigang of China, using 3ds Max, Photoshop and V-Ray.

A Tribute to Ingrid Bergman
Created by Max Wahyudi of Indonesia, modeled in XSI and ZBrush, and rendered in Maya using mental ray.

John Locke
If you don’t know who this is, Locke is one of the main characters on the TV show “Lost.” The artist has modeled it with 3ds Max 9 and rendered with V-Ray. The background and final retouches were done with Combustion.

Created by Stephen David Molyneaux of the UK, using 3ds Max, mental ray, Photoshop and ZBrush.

The Artist himself
The artist spent about one and a half months on this image, working by night. He used Maya, Maya fur and mental ray to create it, and used ZBrush 2 and Photoshop for the textures and color correction.

Captain Jack Sparrow
Here is a portrait of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, created by Jeremy Roberts. It was done using 3ds Max, ZBrush and Photoshop.

This is portrait of Richard Turic’s favorite actress, the beautiful Kathryn Morris. It was made with 3ds Max, ZBrush and Photoshop.

FATJON’s performance
A rendering of FATJON, a music DJ. Created by Yu Cheng Qu using Maya, Photoshop and ZBrush.

Young girl
Created by Viki Yeo of South Korea. The base mesh was sculpted with ZBrush. The final mesh was modeled in 3ds Max, textured in Photoshop and rendered in mental ray (with Hair & fur used for the hair).

Created by Adam Potter, using Maya, VRay and Poser.

Old Samurai
Created by Rodrigue Pralier, using ZBrush, 3ds Max and Photoshop.

Russell Crowe: Gladiator
Created by Mihai Anghelescu and modeled in 3ds Max, rendered in mental ray, textured in Photoshop.

A commander
Created by Jian Xu of China, using 3ds Max 9 and Photoshop, and rendered in mental ray.

Created by Rakesh Sandhu, using Maya, mental ray, Photoshop and ZBrush.

Digital portrait
Created by Anto Juricic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, using Maya, Silo and ZBrush.

The Final Battle
Created by Max Kor of Israel, using Maya and mental ray.

Driver 4 Character
This is one of the 30 characters created for the latest FMV project, “Driver 4,” modeled and rendered in LightWave, and rigged and animated in Maya.

A Girl
Created by Jiro Sugiyama of Japan, modeled and rendered in Blender, and finished in Photoshop.

Created by James Busby of the UK, modeled and rendered using Lightwave 9.3. The skin was done with the new simple skin shader. Textures and post was done in Photoshop and Fusion.

God’s Mastiffs
Created by Silvia Fusetti of Italy, using Photoshop, Poser and XSI.

Created by Chengjie Wang of China, using 3ds Max, After Effects, mental ray and Photoshop.

Open Green
Created by Andrius Balciunas, using 3ds Max. The textures were hand-painted.

Healing Girl Zoom
Created using Maya, mental ray, Photoshop and ZBrush.


Created by Rui Shen of China, using 3ds Max, BodyPaint, mental ray, Photoshop and ZBrush.


Beauty Monica

Created by Pasquale Giacobelli of Italy, using 3ds Max, mental ray and ZBrush.

Girl with Earring
Created by Steven Sun of China, using BodyPaint, Maya, mental ray, Photoshop and ZBrush.

Opal Child
Created by Olivier Ponsonnet of France. Everything was modelled and rendered using 3DS Max and mental ray. The textures were hand-painted using Photoshop. Final color correction, grain and depth of field were also added in Photoshop.

Old Guy: displacement study
Created by Jarek Switalski of Poland. The base mesh was modeled in 3ds Max and scuplted in ZBrush. The displacement map was done in ZBrush.

Amy is Absinthe
Created by Petr Chegodaev of Russia, using 3ds Max, Maxwell Render, Maya, mental ray, Photoshop and ZBrush.

A Portrait of My Grandfather
Created by Gabor Cseh of the Netherlands. Modeling and rendering was done in MAX with Vray, the sculpting in ZBrush, and post in Combustion.

Cross of iron
Created by Eric Zhang of Canada. He started from a sphere in ZBrush, with retopology done in Maya. He used a displacement map for the face and a normal map for the finer details.

La Espera
Created by Jorge Suarez of Argentina, using Lightwave 9.6, which has the latest technology nodes (FAST SKIN).

NY City Apartment
Created by Marc Gruber-Laux of Germany, using 3ds Max, Photoshop and V-Ray.

A Short Story
Created by Jimmy Chow of Hong Kong, using Maya, mental ray, Photoshop and ZBrush.

Created by Riyahd Cassiem of South Africa, using ZBrush to sculpt and texture the base mesh, and then Photoshop for additional textures and post effects.

Created by Alberto Blasi of Rome, using Cinema 4D.


Aquil Akhter

Aquil Akhter is a web graphic designer and has been working in this field for 8 years. He also runs the blog, which focuses on free web resources and inspiration for designers and developers.


  1. Wow, these images are truly amazing, some fascinating characters are there,”the boxer” and “healing girl” are really extremely realistic..

  2. Awesome work on these pics ! It’s a good selection, but i think some have not there place here, like the “Captain Jack Sparrow” one. I think, this one, not feeling realistic.

    1. I agree with TheSongsofDistantEarth, the chimpanzee one is really good. Also, Young Girl, Old Samurai, and Old Guy. All of these pictures demonstrate talent, but most look hyper-realistic.

      Few people have the facial symmetry most CG portraits display. The most realistic CG portraits I’ve seen usually show the artist understands this lack of symmetry, and gives the face those unique, non-symmetrical qualities we see every day.

    2. Either that or maybe we humans are really good at picking up on real/unreal cues for human faces and only so/so at seeing the same for animal ‘faces.’

      I have a feeling a chimp would think the human faces look amazingly realistic while that furry guy is just a little too somethingy.

  3. Quite a few great pics there, but some certainly don’t belong on the list. A portrait is a picture of a person, right? So a picture of an antelope or a NY apartment don’t really count…

  4. All works are done awesome, but as for similarity Hugh Laurie’s (Dr. House) portrait not even close looks like him, but done well.

    And as Dylan Parry mentioned below not all the works are actually a portrait. Anyway, thanks for good impression.

    1. Terrible is being rather harsh – there are certain ones granted that do not belong here. My take on it is the ones that do belong are – Chimpanzee, Bernadette, The Artist himself, Kid, Old guy: displacement study. Let’s be real if your not a ‘CG-look-at-every-fine-particle-person’ and these were with other similar actual photos and you NEVER heard anything about this being a CG you’d shrug and pass them off as a photo – that is a fact. As I have seen photos like all of these before. The ones to me that were really close but something about them made me wonder are: Last Elf, Mage, The final battle, La Espera(eye brows?). I would have given Young girl the nod for being realistic as the texturing done was really good (sweater) but I have noticed that 3d characters tend to have this thing by the dimples by the lips, I call it ‘chubby cheeks’ and yes there are people with chubby cheeks in real life but when everybody has chubby cheeks that’s another story. I can’t explain what I mean precisely but I hope you get what I mean. Anywho some of the others look like portraits and others jus don’t fit…on another note for some reason I found that Kathryn had something that looked real but in another sense you knew it wasn’t…don’t know what the good and bad was but I just picked up on it. My humble opinion.

      I am a Graphic Designer more than an animator. I use tons of photos, so when I see something that looks acceptable as a photo I know it. CG artists have it hard cuz they will pick up on the minutest detail and hence will keep killing themselves over it — the real test is to slap these inbetween real photos and the truth will be seen. They will simply pass the good ones straight as photos.

      If you don’t believe me, put the good ones in with real photos and show someone who knows nothing of CG.

  5. Wow… This is awesome stuff…. i wonder how much time these artists took to create these masterpieces.. I am so glad that you put an article on this. AWESOME!!!

  6. I hate to spoil the party, but this is both awesome and disturbing at once. Those of you who are experienced CG designers who are complaining about some of the images, well, ask yourself: would they or would they not be persuasive to Joe Citizen? Would it fool the average human? If so, then think about the disturbing possibilities for tragic misuse of this technology… picture a high-profile crime case, the police have no useful suspect and are under pressure to find one. How hard would it be for them to simply splice the face of their favorite “usual suspect” into a CG image and use it to persuade a jury of non-CG artists? People have been wrongly convicted on images of much, MUCH lower quality. In five years, we’ll be able to do this in real time video, at which time no one will be safe from governmental abuse. They will literally be able to invent history. Be careful.

    1. ‘Be careful.’ Meaning… what?

      Stop using computers? Stop using computers in this way?

      Start living more fearful repressed lives, keeping an ever vigilant eye out for the conspiracy just out of sight?

  7. All the people saying “these are terrible!”

    perhaps you’d be so kind as to post one of your own CG Portraits, so we can see your basis for comparison?

  8. I am a professional cg artist and yes as some of you pointed out some of these do not look photo-real. However, many of these could easily be counted as photo-real, if you saw the exact same model in a different context like per say in a movie with the right lighting and compositing almost no one would be able to tell it was cg. It has been done for years in many films and people were none the wiser. In Fight Club the sex scene with Marla, Marla was a completely cg character in that scene. Don’t believe me? Go buy the issue of cinefex for that month/year.

    many people may be fooled by images and video, but to be able to do these things in 5 years is still far fetched. People like to say video games are approaching the quality of film, This is so untrue it is laughable. No matter how good games get they have to render it at real time, and it’s not like film has stopped progress, film always pushes the envelope each frame of a film version takes hours even days on a render farm with thousands of processors! There is no way a game can eve compete with that kind of processing power. So yes real time games etc look amazing but still nowhere even near the doorstep of cinema/photo-real quality. Take the recent 2012 for example, no game or real time rendering engine could even dream to do that anytime soon, not in 5 years anyway.

    Not meaning to badger anyone just trying to throw some knowledge out there.

  9. Sorry, but this is lame. The only pic good is the blackish-whiteish old guy, the others are just lame on the sight. Come on ! We got century around and all they come up with are these half-plastic “waxy” figures ? They’re not good. Lot of effort put but seriously, they can have done better. You can see that.

    1. Sure you can whip out your digital camera and snap a picture at a blink of an eye. What you negative people don’t realize is that someone had to program a computer to produce this art. Perhaps not at the bit level, but certainly not by setting half a dozen parameters and voila. Thirty five years ago, (give or take a couple years) Pong was introduced and we old timers thought that was cool stuff. We’ve come a long way with computers and just imagining what may be coming down the pike next just blows the mind.

      With this near photo quality rendering, I see CG movies getting to the point where we’ll have famous actors like John Wayne appearing again in new movies. (John Wayne meets Darth Vader.) It could certainly get to a point where you don’t know if you’re dealing with a real person (i.e. video phone) or a CG object.

      Bravo to all of these artists! I really enjoyed all of your works.

    2. I agree, they all look like wax figures. A good portrait captures the essence of the subject and these don’t. That’s what good photographers and artists can do. These are amazing technically, but there’s a lack of life in the eyes.

  10. Taking a photo is much faster, and a lot more realistic :) Whats the point of doing this ? Just too much time in hand and nothing productive to do ?

    1. These people are artists, did Picasso have too much time on his hands and started painting ? It’s like you’re asking : “Whats the purpose of art ?”

      To that I have no answer. I am a digital artist myself. I do it for the passion.

      These guys have put incredible efforts into their work. They may not be perfectly realistic… but between you and I… not digital art never will.

      So great work guys, keep it coming :D

  11. If these were actually painted I’d be impressed. As it is, you’re oohing and ahhing over a bunch of computer data. The computers are the real artists. Why don’t you coo over a spreadsheet while you’re at it.

    1. “The computers are the real artists.”

      Is the piano the real artist in a Chopin etude?

      Your post reduced the average IQ of all Internet contributors by a couple of points.

  12. R these “painted”or fully modeled?

    By modeled, I mean that there is underlying 3D information and surface information and lighting information. The rendering derives from the interaction of all three.

  13. I am impressed by all of these. A couple of them are so realistic (the chimpanzee, the city street scene and the bedroom scene) that one wonders if they are gag-submissions of photographs. But that brings the question: when we can no longer discern the difference between photos and Photoshop…

    In such cases, one can always choose between going out and shooting the photo, or spending “a month of evenings” creating one rendering. Still, the talent is amazing. I can barely master Photoshop Elements, much less the multi-platform, heavy-duty packages listed above. Nod of approval to those talented and educated enough to do so. Excellent listing of renderings.

  14. The best results of computer graphics are compiled in this post…”The Artist himself” is my personal favorite..Captain Jack Sparrow without much ado is fascinating…Young Girl, Kathryn, Muriel_2 and Chimpanzee are my other favorites…Though I feel the Bruce Lee and Obama cg could have been better….Great effort and thanks for this post……

  15. Sweet stuff! I think the ones that stood out the most for me were the boxer, Morgan Freeman, Charging Kudu, the Lost character and the Kid. I cannot imagine how much talent and time it must take to craft these works. Awesome.

  16. These are all great technically and took a lot of skill but some of them fail because the artists aren’t getting the subtleties of facial expressions. A lot of them are either a little off or lack expression completely making them look flat like wax figures.

    Emotion is hard to portray, I sculpt in clay so I know how hard it can be. Without it though, the artwork is lacking something, some life.

  17. I think most of these are great pictures. If you want actual-reality pictures, take a photograph. We are bombarded by very high-quality photography everyday, and very few people give a damn, because photographs are cheap to produce (~just click and touch up a bit in photoshop). These images are unique and proprietary creations by computer artists. The goal may have been to approach reality and replicate a photo image but these creations are made by artists using computer systems that only understand 1’s and 0’s. As a computer programmer, and someone who’s just started playing around with this kind of technology it has become clear to me that these are true works of art that would have had many, many, many hours put into their creation. So what if some look a little waxy, or have too much symmetry – like I said, if you want something more accurate go find a photography website.

  18. fuckin ………….unbelievable………..damn great work ……..requires a lot of focus, patience and eternal strength…………… marvelous!!!

  19. fantastic gallery! as for you negative posters, how about posting YOUR work so we can see? i bet a) you never touched a CG/3D program in your life b) you’re just pissed the work you do never comes out as good. or c) you just like posting negative stuff for fun…i think its a bit of all 3

  20. These are amazing. And as for all you negative people, I think it’s lame and immature to do what you r doing. Though I can tell you think it makes you sound smart…

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