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Hester: Alchemist Game Character

Designing, modelling and animating a character for an alchemist-themed game

This was a project to create a witch-turned-alchemist game character who has relocated to a new town to open a shop (and investigate unusual happenings). In this post I'll share my experience and the lessons I learned while making this character.

Final animation of Hester
Final animation of Hester
Turnaround in rest pose
Hester model mesh
Model stats

Character Design

To begin, I filled in some details in the brief to form a more complete character design. I named the character Hester and made her a curious, reliable, and enthusiastic character, befitting her role as an investigator. My goal was to accurately reflect Hester's personality traits in her design.

  • To express reliability I made her design bottom-heavy, i.e. with a stable base
  • To express curiosity and enthusiasm I included a lot of curves and rounded shapes

My process for the design involved:

  1. Creating moodboard to start getting some ideas for shapes, elements and colours
Moodboard made using
  1. Quick and loose sketches to try out some shapes
Ideation sketches
  1. Iteration to see the effect of different shapes, colours and proportions
Iteration on shapes
Iteration on colours

Ultimately, I chose a design featuring a recurring bell shape in both the dress and hair. I also included accessories to showcase her profession as a witch, such as a witch's hat, steampunk goggles, and an alchemist belt with potion bottles

To help with 3D modelling, I made a basic front and side view sheet.

Hester model sheet

3D Modelling

I modelling this character using Blender. My process was as follows:

  1. Head sculpting
Head sculpting
  1. Body sculpting
Body sculpting
  1. Clothes and accessories sculpting
Modelling the hat
Modelling the goggles
  1. Hair sculpting (using curves)
Modelling the hair
  1. Retopology
Retopologising the body
Retopology using Retopoflow

UV Unwrap

Once I had a clean mesh to work with, I created seams and UV unwrapped the meshes so I could include some basic image textures.

Colour Grid UV map


Most textures are plain gradients, but there are a few details.

Painting some colour onto the face
Adding the iris
Some face detail


For the animation, I started with Blender's human rig and made tweaks where needed, like adding inverse kinematics for easier posing. To give the hair, hat, and belt a bit of bounce, I added extra bones and used damped tracking constraints.

For the dress, I went with a mesh deform modifier and cloth simulator. I tried a few options, but this was the most effective. I did rig the face too, but in the end, I only animated the eyes.

Making the rig


With the rigging done, I made a basic walk cycle animation. I had planned to show off some of Hester's personality by animating her examining a potion bottle, complete with facial expressions, but ran out of time.

For the simple walk cycle, the dynamic elements of the hat, hair, belt and skirt add a bit more interest.

Making the animation

Game Considerations

For a game you'd want to avoid high poly meshes and complicated animations for better performance. To solve this, if it were to be used in a real game I would bake texture details onto a simpler mesh, and also bake preset animations for use in the game.

What I Learned

I made a basic mistake of making the rest pose arms too low down rather than in a T-shape - next time I'll make sure I use a T-pose!

I learned a lot about retopology in this project and really improved my skills. It took a while, especially when I was trying to make the hair animate well, but using the Retopoflow plugin for Blender helped a lot and made the process go much faster. It's also helpful to plan ahead and think about the loops and patches before starting the retopology.

I had a rough time with the hair at first. I made the mistake of creating a solid hair shape, but it just didn't look right when it animated. So I went back to an earlier version where the hair was separated into strands, which produced a much better result.

I wasn't so confident with rigging at first, but working on this project helped me to feel a lot more comfortable with it. I'm excited to keep improving and try rigging animated facial expressions. I also have plans to make a little environment for my character to explore.

Next time around, I'll be much smoother and quicker in my workflow, having learned from all the mistakes I made during this project!

Quick attempt at a smile