The Rookies winners 2019© Sam Keating (USA)
The Rookies winners 2019© Sam Keating (USA)

How to win a Rookies CG student award


The esteemed CG student contest has revealed its winners. Check out some of the top V-Ray-rendered entries and learn co-founder Alwyn Hunt’s secrets for success.


This year’s Rookie Awards contest has been the biggest — and some might say the best — yet. This staple of the CG community has relaunched its site as a comprehensive blend of online gallery, social media network and, of course, ongoing competitions. It serves as a way for students and amateurs to get their work critiqued, and it’s regularly checked out by recruiters at some of the world’s biggest CG firms.

As usual, V-Ray played a big role in the 2019 Rookie Awards, with hundreds of entries created via Chaos Group’s rendering software — from orcs and dwarves to sci-fi cities, stylish apartments and even a bike computer. We’ve rounded up some of the highest-ranked and most popular V-Ray rendered images and asked co-founder Alwyn Hunt about the awards — and how you can get to the number one spot next year.

© Andrea Savchenko (USA). Student at Think Tank Training Centre

How many entries did The Rookies receive this year?

Alwyn Hunt: This year, The Rookies Awards received 3,458 entries from digital media and entertainment artists in 89 countries, with over 500 academic facilities encouraging their students to enter. Most of our entries come from North America, Europe and Asia, but we get entries from all around the world — and even from countries that I've never even heard of!

© Ross Baxter (UK). Graduate of Abertay University

You’ve recently re-launched the site with a new look. What are the different ways students can participate?

AH: We’re no longer simply an annual contest for students, we are now a full-stack platform dedicated to helping students and self-taught artists launch their careers. We run regular contests designed to challenge our members to get their work seen by recruiters and key industry players. The kicker is that these contests have all the usual software and hardware prizes, but we also offer fully paid educational scholarships and studio internships — which money just can't buy.

Behind all this is "The Journey," a self-paced learning path that we recommend all members undertake to help them gain employment. At each step, we offer target training, advice and success stories to help motivate and keep members on track.

© Jose Arraiol (UK). Graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University

How are the Highest Ranked and Most Popular winners chosen?

AH: The highest-ranked entrants are scored by our official Judging Panel which included over 120 highly influential and respected industry veterans. The judges were asked to score entries based on criteria including creative skills, technical skills, presentation, variety of skills, complexity, raw talent and employment potential. The most popular winners are determined by the community and the public.

V-Ray creates stunningly realistic renders and is extremely fast. It's an industry standard and the earlier you learn V-Ray, the more opportunities you'll have in the long run.

Alwyn Hunt, The Rookies

© Vinicius Mantovani Favero (Canada). Graduate of Think Tank Training Centre

What are some of the advantages students have when using V-Ray for entries?

AH: The integration that it has with many 3D programs makes it easy for students to use. V-Ray creates stunningly realistic renders and it’s extremely fast. It's an industry-standard renderer and the earlier you learn V-Ray, the more opportunities you'll have in the long run.

© Colin Scott (Portugal). Graduate of ODD School

Are there any top tips for winning The Rookies?

AH: The presentation of your portfolio is key! We always tell entrants to create a portfolio as if they're applying for a job. Always have your best work at the start and don't add weak pieces; these will just leave the judges asking why you thought it was good enough to include. Show a breakdown, add descriptions of your work — and be creative with your presentation!

Here's a great example of someone that has used the portfolio builder to really show off their work.

© Beatriz Morilla Gómez (Spain). Graduate of Animum Creativity Advanced School

Do you have a favorite V-Ray-rendered entry this year?

AH: I have a few favorites. I really like the entry by Dan Lipson because of the different character designs that he's shown and the quality of his final renders: 

© Dan Lipson (USA). Student at Gnomon School of VFX, Games, and Animation

I also really liked Tomaz Adamski’s arch-viz entry; he reached a really high level of realism and showed attention to detail for his renders.

© Tomaz Adamski (Denmark). Student at 3D College Videndjurs

You've got the talent, but have you got the skills? Check out Chaos Group's V-Ray educational licenses and V-Ray resources, and you could be featured on this page next year!