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Behind the Scenes: World in a Bottle



Hi! My name is Daniel Villanueva, and I’m from Mexico. I’ve been studying art since I was 14 and even though my degree says “Digital Design,” Blender made me fall in love with 3D. So for 3 years, I’ve been a full time 3D artist and I’m loving it.


CGBoost needs no introduction. In November last year, they presented the “World in a Bottle Challenge” and I wanted to be in. Usually, we see these little cute boats inside bottles but I wanted to go in the opposite direction. Using the concept of rescue dogs bringing alcohol to aid travelers, I set my main elements: I wanted to set a cold environment and a warm one inside a bottle of vodka.


Blocking Out

First, I tried to give an idea of the street’s shape as I was still uncertain of what the perspective would be, yet I had some idea and created a facade in Ian Hubert’s style from an image.


From my reference images, I decided to model a bottle, a garbage can, a varandal, and a traffic light.

Labels were made on Illustrator, and textures on Substance Painter. A fun fact is that the bottle says, “Always a drink away from winter.” It’s a little sad that in the final image there’s only visible the bottom of the model, yet it was fun to make. 


For texturing everything else I used the help of Megascans and Bridge, mainly for the snow, sand, and the foliage inside the bottle.

For the falling snow, I used a plane with a painting of white dots made on Photoshop, which didn’t have to be realistic as I wanted them to be out-of-focus or to interact with the lights. Then, I added them all to the mix.


For world lighting, I used a very low HDRI and a combination of large cold light and other warm ones, simulating the light coming from a pub or street lamps. Then, I added a warm, sun-like light inside the bottle, and a few extra ones for dramatic reflections.

Feedback and changes

So, being honest, this was the final result I presented to the challenge.

Yeah, it had potential but it needed more work. I didn’t win but the team of CGBoost was kind and gave me some valuable feedback so I could improve the artwork.

Most of those changes were a not-so-aggressive color aberration, a closer shot of the bottle and cleaner glass to be able to see what’s inside, more blurred falling snow as it looked too fake and dirty, and better snow on the floor, adding a displace modifier and a simple Geo Nodes setup.

RENDER - World in a Bottle

Thank you for reading the article. Feel free to explore more of my work on my social media accounts. Have a great day!

About the Artist                       

Daniel Villanueva is a 3D & 2D artist from Mexico, always learning something new.                                                                                                                                                

About the Author

Avatar image for Alina Khan
Alina Khan

A self taught 3d artist, who seeks to excel in the computer graphics field. Currently a student, freelancer and the editor for the 'Behind the Scenes' at Blender Nation.

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