BASF – Mining print Ad CGI

BASF Print Ad - CGI by Michael Wentworth-Bell
Year: 2012 Client: Green Team Australia

I was hired by Green Team Australia to create Computer generated imagery for one of their BASF print ads which would be part of a larger campaign. I was required to create a photo-real replication of a specific BASF chemical that is used in ground stabilization on mining sites.  Below you can see a microscopic photo of the real chemical.

Reference image of the Chemical. The 3D Render had to replicate this microscopic image as closely as possible.

Under the microscope, this chemical definitely looked other-worldly! All of the print material in BASF’s campagin had a two-way split.  2 distinct images would combine together to form one. In this case, the chemical was to assume the shape of a large mining stockpile. It had to mirror the shape on the left. The image above was my only reference image available and I had to create a 3D render that was as accurate to the feel of the original photo as possible within 5  days.

Final Print Advertisement:

The final BASF print Ad
Below are some closeups of the final 3D render.
Final Print Ad - Closeup of the 3D render Final 3D render - Closeup view Final 3D render - Closeup view Final 3D render - Closeup view


I created the model in 3DS Max, using Zbrush and Topogun for Highres details and retopology. The final image was rendered in Vray at floating point and composited in photoshop. The composite with additional selection masks/mattes were delivered to the finishing artists at the agency as a 16-bit PSD.

Screenshot of the 3DS Max viewport

Below you can see the full model setup in 3ds Max. I modeled only the right-half of the chemical to save time.

Full view of the 3D Model as seen in the 3ds Max viewport

Below are some closeups of the 3D Model as seen in the 3ds Max viewport. With and without the wireframe view. The objects were set to subdivide at rendertime. I subdivided them in the viewport to take these screenshots.

closeup - Screenshot of the 3DS Max viewport screenshot of the 3ds Max viewport with Wireframe visible Closeup of one of the 'spores'. Wireframe view from 3ds Max viewport

I used many brushes and stencils, including a few very high-resolution stencils from Surface Mimic – online 3D scan store. For the many tiny blue strands, flower shapes and other detailed objects, I created a few base meshes and scattered them to thousands of varied instances using Neil Blevins ‘Object Painter’ script (one of the many useful Soulburn scripts). The original shapes were mostly simple textures made in Photoshop that were then mapped onto a low res poly plane with transparency. This kept scene performance fairly snappy, but increased rendertime slightly due to the thousands of meshes with transparency maps.

3ds Max viewport closeup Wireframe view -3ds Max viewport closeup

(Below) A few angles of the 3D model using the ‘clay’ viewport display mode in 3DS Max. Here you can see that many of the small strands and other details are simple low-poly objects with a bend modifier.

An angle of the 3D Model, as shown with the 'clay' rendering mode in 3ds max An angle of the 3D Model, as shown with the 'clay' rendering mode in 3ds max