Nikita Kapustin

10 Steps to create an outstanding 3D Cover Artwork

In this blog post you will see the making-off process of how the 3D cover artwork for the Psytrance track “Shiva” by Avalon, Waio & Webra was created.

Let's dive right in


Fernando (WAIO) reached out to me that he needs a 3D cover artwork for his new single release at Nano Records (Shiva).

The task:

Create a “cyberpunk Shiva” with nice metallic, chrome and some cyberpunk-ish neon lights, spaceships & buildings.
He also said: “it doesn’t need to be “super well productioned” .
But I challenge myself always to exceed all expectations and create an absolutely unique, never seen artwork.
I sent me this reference image of what kind of style he wanted.


I’ve had instantly some ideas about what to create. But I needed obviously first a good 3D model of Shiva.
I found a few good-looking Shiva statues and sent Fernando some of them and chose the following Shiva statue which formed the foundation of the whole cover artwork.


We wrote back and forth and I got a few more references of what Fernando had in mind. And also he mentioned, that he has some mechanical 3D models, which he can send me and I could use.
Normally I use my 3D collections of various models or buy some extra 3D models if needed on 3rd party market places like CGTrader.


The first thing I do, I put all the reference material I have from the client on one page (I use the free tool PureRef for that) and just look at them and have a rough overview in which direction the 3D cover artwork will go.
Also, I added a few more additional reference images, which I liked.

I liked the main reference image he provided me and also I like that typical cyberpunk style as well, so I thought about putting Shiva as main subject in the center on some kind of mechanical podium and around him skyscraper, lights, and construction stuff.

When I imported the Shiva model into my 3D program, I didn’t like the tiger carpet and the ground for that kind of artwork. So I removed it manually and I had a clean 3D model for the cover art.

Afterward I started to build the scene. I put some buildings into the project, created the podium he is sitting on, and tried to figure out early in that stage with what camera angle, focal length, and composition I wanted to go.
Also, I experimented with some construction stuff to give it a more urban atmosphere.

3d clay render of shiva statue
Creating a podium
3d clay render of urban city with shiva
Adding construction stuff and skyscraper


While I was working on the artwork, an idea reached out to me, that it would be cool to put somewhere in the scene the 3D logos of othe artists. That would make the artwork even more unique and stand out to the viewers.

I searched for the logos and carefully cut them out manually inside Adobe Photoshop so I had a clean spline path with which I could work in my 3D program and create a 3D model out of it.

My next thoughts:
Where is the best place in the artwork for the 3D logos?

Boom! On the buildings. Like a giant high-tech billboard.


Next idea:
Creating some kind of a symbol as in one of the references he provided me. But I wanted to create something unique and have a connection to Shiva.

Shiva White Symbol
Trishul represents the three aspects of consciousness – waking, dreaming and sleeping, and it represents the three gunas – satva, rajas and tamas. Holding a trishul (Trident) signifies that Shiva (the divinity) is above all the three states – waking, dreaming and sleeping, yet is the upholder of these three states. The divinity is beyond the three gunas, but it holds the three gunas together.

Again, I created a Spline Path of it and imported it into MoI3D, and started to experiment with some interesting psychedelic, geometric, forms and shapes.
I ended up with this beautiful mandala-like piece.

moi3d screenshot
Creating the symbol
cinema4d viewport screenshot
Creating a 3D object out of the spline shape I created

Importing the circle into the scene

Next main part:

7. Improving the Shiva model

I didn’t want to leave the base model as is. I wanted to give it a few unique, outstanding details, which would addapt it more to it’s environment.
therefore I picked some mechanical parts of some of my kitbash collection and tried to implement them into the figure. So that creates a more cyberpunk-futuristic style

I added a few more details to the podium as well, so it looks more interesting.

8. Lighting & Texturing

Now comes the really interesting part, which brings that artwork to life.
•    What kind of materials & textures fit this scene best?
•    What kind of atmosphere do I want to express with the light?
Those are the questions I ask myself before I start with the process. I decided to go with a night atmosphere because I wanted to add a lot of lights so they can pop more and bring a lot of energy into the scene.

3d shiva cover artwork
Applying some of the basic textures
octane node editor screenshot
Creating one of the materials inside Octane Render

The overall atmosphere was still missing which was achieved usually by the light source placement. That took a while to find the correct position, angle, strength & color of the light sources.
I put some huge lights under the buildings and also a fog volume to give the scene a dramatic, epic & surreal type of atmosphere and mood.


Now comes the even more interesting part.
The part which makes this piece pop and stands out. Adding bright light sources to the circle, logos, and Shiva statue.
I was experimenting a lot with creating the right materials for that. But it came out so awesome like that.

Some framing in the composition was missing as well guide the viewer’s eye onto the main object of that piece. So I added those construction details at the bottom and the top left corner of the image.


What is cyberpunk without Japanese billboards?
I bought some 3D billboards to save some time and put them into my scene and adjusted the light, texture, and position of those.

Now the 3D album cover art is almost done and I can go into the rendering process. there I adjust and tweak the settings to get the result I need. It’s always a back and forth process with a lot of experimenting and having fun to find the optimum result.


When the final render is done and I am satisfied with the result I always go as the final step into Photoshop to make the last color & lighting correction, adding a vignette and adjusting the overall atmosphere of the 3D Rendering to unite everything into one coherent final 3D artwork I can deliver to the client



You are also an Artist or Creative and need a Cover that stands out and is tailored to your needs and ideas?

I am very happy to create an unique 3D artwork for you!

Or check out my Instagram, Artstation & other social media:)

I appreciate a share on those various platforms below so much! Also I would love to hear your opinion, thoughts & suggestions!

Nikita Kapustin