A spaceman in an orange suit among plants, trees and ruins© Matteo Morana
A spaceman in an orange suit among plants, trees and ruins© Matteo Morana

Creating a hero shot with Corona Renderer for 3ds Max

Matteo Morana advanced from Chaos Group Student Rendering Contest runner up in 2018 to the overall winner in 2019. Discover how he landed the first place.

Matteo Morana is no stranger to Chaos Group’s student rendering competition. Last year, his piece for our “What’s Next” competition caught the public’s attention and he was awarded a runner-up prize. For the second edition of the student rendering competition, on the theme “Undiscovered,” Matteo created a stirring new piece in which a returning cosmonaut is dwarfed by nature — and he landed himself first place!

Read on to find out more about Matteo and how he made use of Corona for 3ds Max to create this stirring artwork.


© Matteo Morana

Matteo captured the theme of the contest perfectly with clever composition, lighting and focus to draw you to the main character, who is dwarfed by plants and trees. This is visual storytelling at its most potent.

Lon Grohs, Head of Creative at Chaos

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Matteo Morana: I'm 27 years old and I'm in the process of graduating in Architecture from the University of Florence, Italy. I'm passionate about architecture and, during my studies, I have become fascinated with architectural visualization.

How did it feel when you were announced as the winner this year?

MM: It was satisfying because all the effort and hours spent working and practicing were finally rewarded by this achievement. I feel very grateful!

From foliage to furniture: Matteo’s arch-viz and interior work

Matteo isn’t just a master of the natural world: His arch-viz and interior images also show a keen eye and a professional-level understanding of materials, color, focus and composition. Take a look. (And hire him — fast!)

Why did you decide to enter?

MM: I entered the competition because I felt I could give more than last year. I put everything I could into winning this contest — and it paid off.

Could you tell us more about the story behind the piece?

MM: This work is connected to my previous piece, "What's Next". With that entry, I depicted a world on its knees because of its own society; the sunflower represented the last hope in a crumbling world.

This new piece displays what comes next. I think that human beings can be both the most intelligent and the dumbest creature on Earth, able to destroy themselves with ease. Nature, usually considered less important, is the one who will perhaps give us a second chance, and we will realize how weak and fragile we are compared to it. In the end, I'm sure we should show more respect and care towards nature.

© Matteo Morana

Which tools did you use to create the foliage?

MM: I mainly used GrowFX for 3ds Max and got a few more assets from Quixel Megascan.

You don’t notice the character immediately — how did you ensure they stood out?

MM: Nature is the main character! Then comes the human being. I made the latter more visible thanks to some contrast adjustments.

Wireframe and clay renders © Matteo Morana

When did you begin learning Corona?

MM: I started using Corona Renderer almost four years ago, after using V-Ray for a while. I still tend to use them both nowadays, depending on the given situation.

Corona’s Light Mix was an absolute game-changer.

Matteo Morana, University of Florence Architecture Student

Which Corona features help you get the look you were aiming for?

MM: Corona’s Light Mix was an absolute game-changer. It usually isn't easy to handle high-poly scenes before the final render, but it allowed me to perfectly balance the lights. This tool let me fix some light intensities once the image was done, and that helped me get exactly the look I wanted.

What is the most important thing you'd like to learn in 2020?

MM: I would simply like to improve myself, day by day. You never stop learning — especially in this field. I'm a perfectionist; even though perfection does not exist, I believe that the search for it will refine the quality of your work and increase your knowledge.

Want to be in with a chance of winning next year? Take a 45-day trial of Corona Renderer and discover how it can transform your projects.

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