Image Courtesy TMRW Challenge Winners

D2 TMRW Challenge Winners

The First Settlement on Mars

We had the opportunity to speak with all three winners of The TMRW Challenge — The First Settlement and further question them on their creative process and experience taking part in this contest.

In the month of June, D2 Conferences launched a challenge in collaboration with TMRW, sponsored by Autodesk. The theme revolved around creating your own version of The First Settlement on MarsAfter receiving over 80 entries, the judges: Andreas Landgren, founder of TMRW, Virginie Bourdin, Art Director and Nigel Hunt, co-founder and expert in everything architecture visualization, shared their insight during a Live Judging Show. Three contestants stood out during the challenge and were each granted a 1-year subscription to 3ds Max. We would like to applaud all participants for their hard work and congratulate the three finalists!


D2 Conferences’ Co-Founders, Jason Bergeron and Fabio Palvelli, sat down with 2nd place, Lulu Guo and 3rd place Vittorio Bonapace to pick at their brains. Watch the live session and highlights of our interview with the winners below.



1st Place: Team NS, Poland

Final submission of their render version of The First Settlement on Mars by Team NS. Landscape shot of "Mars" with rocks at the forefront, orange sand and misty clouds in the atmosphere.More close-up visuals of their render of their First Settlement on Mars design. Collage of tanks and close-up of the rock and sand renders.



Where are you based? And what are your experiences with 3D? 

We are a team consisting of three people hailing from the northern Poland. Education-wise we represent 3 technical schools: IT, architecture, and design. Our experience with 3ds Max is extensive and dates to the MS-DOS era, when the program was still called 3D Studio. Our adventure with 3ds Max started with its 5.0 version, so, as you can guess, we have been using it for quite some time.

What do you think are the benefits of taking part in a challenge like this?  

The main benefits include personal development, new technologies we could afford and an opportunity to test an engine different from those used in our commercial projects. The work was done in FStorm, it was a lot of fun, but not without a certain deal of frustration. Our interest in similar subjects, like Mars, will be more common in the future, so it pays to have experience with such tasks when you work with ArchViz or architecture every day. Personally, we profited from it tremendously. Of course, the prospect of maintaining a stable cooperation with TMRW was also very nice.

Which programs did you use for your render submissions? For which tasks? 

We try to work in a simple manner whenever it is possible. Our main tool was 3ds Max. It is a tank of a software! For placing the elements in the terrain, we used Multiscatter from Icube. You can't go wrong with this one, it is simple, robust and does not need tweaking of million parameters. When it came to materials, we used Substance and the full Adobe suite.

The greatest fun and challenge came from the rendering engine. We wanted to get the most of it in terms of new knowledge and skills. This is why we have been testing FStorm for the last few years.

Until now, we have never been able to test it in the target (commercial) environment and all the tasks we used it for were either done in the test environment or for personal side projects. This time we had a shot at the real thing. In addition, this engine gave us the best opportunities to introduce atmospheric effects without resorting to FX.

Any advice you’d like to share to the 3D community?

My best advice is to listen to one's own intuition. Be a harsh critic of one's own work. Remember that you can always do better. Be hungry of new creations. Of course, the failures are inevitable, and no one likes them, but the failures are necessary, because they allow us to grow and gain new skills that we might not fully comprehend in a given moment, but given enough patience and insight, our failures will allow us to achieve success in the future.



2nd Place: Lulu Guo, China


Final submission of their render version of The First Settlement on Mars by Lulu Guo. White transparent dome habitats with a building at the center as well as a headshot of Lulu Guo.

What pushed you to participate in the TMRW Challenge?

First, I thought it was a cool and popular topic among CG artists. Particularly in the movie industry, I have been watching lots of movies that use Mars as a background, which kind of expands my imaginary world. One valuable aspect in participating in this challenge, is that the topic of “living on Mars” really pushed me forward to bringing an imagined world into the reality. It made me think seriously about what type of social community will the next 20 generations live in and what type of architecture or buildings will exist in the future.

Where did you get inspiration for your work?

My inspiration came from a movie I watched named Raised by Wolves. That is where the base mood of the image comes from, staying alive in an enjoyable way.

On the other hand, the designed white ball ideas came from a carton of eggs. The process of human gestation of life is not much different from the process of other species. This is a very miraculous experience. So, I thought maybe on Mars, people might become half human and half robots, an evolution of humankind, from a white, warm liquid ball full of nutrition.

Which programs did you use for your render submissions? For which tasks?

The modeling part I used 3ds Max, and rendered by Corona render engine. I used the forest pack to scatter all the plants. The color correction was done in Photoshop.

Best advice you’ve gotten as an artist/professional in the 3D world?

Stay curious about everything!!!! 



3rd Place: Vittorio Bonapace, London


Final submission of their render version of The First Settlement on Mars by Vittorio Bonapace. Astronaut at the forefront with car design, spaceship and dome over a city at the middle ground. Floating habitats in a misty, green sky at the background.Final submission of their render version of The First Settlement on Mars by Vittorio Bonapace. Collage of the clay version and final version of render demonstrating animals on trees coexisting with AI robots, placed under a transparent dome.Final submission of their render version of The First Settlement on Mars by Vittorio Bonapace. Aerial view of individuals living in a high-altitude lounge and home space with large windows overlooking planet Mars.


What is your job title and year of experience? 

I am an award-winning Digital Artist and Art/Creative Director based in London. I have worked in the CGI Industry since 2009.

What was the hardest part of the TMRW Challenge? Your favourite part?  

The hardest part was to manage and execute my concept idea: to create three different connected pieces while carrying on with my CGI Studio architectural deliveries and art exhibitions. The richness of details, the desired quality, the quantity of modeling assets to develop was quite a mission for the time I had. That’s why I decided to carry on and participate. One of the main reasons why I participate in competitions is that when I see something hard and challenging on the horizon; I believe — as an artist — I always end up learning new things, which is exciting to me.

My favourite part was developing the stories and finding out a different message and a purpose for each of these three Illustrations.

What were the concepts and stories you wanted to bring to life? 

I wanted to explore different moods and atmospheres: from a storm and acid green late afternoon to a warm and safe Sunday morning. Again, to a vibrant night and calm panoramic aerial view. I wanted to create three daytime connected moments – that’s why in all the shots the balloons and the first colony ship are always visible. In each illustration I developed something specific.

The interior view called “Spotted Species” was about animals and integration with AI robots. I loved the idea of bringing a few animal species and imagining how they could interact with technology into the future.

The exterior view “The Night Comes Down” was about the overall look to the colony from a hill, with a focus on infrastructure, car design and human presence around the scheme.

The third and last visual called “Up In The Air” aimed to create a panoramic inside-out view about the well-settled and designed suburbs for humans, between home vegetation, robotics presence and tech/data interaction between man and machine.

Which programs did you use for your render submissions? For which tasks?

For this competition I used 3ds Max for the overall modeling tasks, Corona Renderer as render engine, World Creator for the landscape and the terrain creation process, Z-Brush for sculpting rocks, hard-surfaces and the leopard’s tree, GrowFX and Itoo Forestpack for the general vegetation, Photoshop for the grading and for the comp. 

Any advice you’d like to share to the 3D community?

Working hard and being a curious student your whole life pays back every time. Being in constant experimentation, hungry and curious, getting inspired everyday and being sometimes out of a confidence box always rewards us as artists and makes our Art more powerful, full of content to communicate. Sooner or later — if we work hard everyday — I believe this happens.

Learn more about the upcoming D2 Digital Design Conferences' flagship event that gathers visualization studios, architecture offices, advertising agencies, and software companies! Don’t miss out on workshops and artist talks, taking place virtually from August 30th to September 3rd. 


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