Rian and my Journey into 3D

Rian and my Journey into 3D

I was always in love with 3D and wanted to model my own character. Just as I took courage to train as a programmer, I also began the move towards 3D.

He looks like he’s saying, “Please kill me, but I’m still glad to be alive <3 “

On 08/13/2019 this little creature saw the light of day for the first time. It was my very first contact with 3D in Blender. I have tried the basics of sculpting here. However, Blender was extremely complicated for a newbie.

A very good friend recommended to me the program “Scrulptris”. With this program I was able to create a humanoid being from a sphere very quickly. I didn’t want to start with something “simple” like a human, but something more daring. I wanted to create a character that was half human and half dragon.

This was the first good version of my character. It looked really professional to me at the time. But I knew that I would have to revise the model many times.

I added some facial details to the model, like “hair”, “beard”, teeth and tongue. I then exported the model to Blender to see if everything was exported correctly. Then it was time for the retopo, because my character was just a sculpt. My friend said that the program “ZBrush” was a very good retopo program.

So, I visited my buddy and experimented around with ZBrush. We actually managed to turn the tris into quads. Eureka!

Now I gave my character a rig which again was a big topic in my career. I had watched many tutorials such as bones become IK, eye control etc. But I quickly realized that I was way too early with the rig. Because the retopo from ZBrush looked quite nice, but it had way too many polygons. The rig just couldn’t work with it. So, I decided to rework the retopo.

But I had absolutely no desire for the Retopo and wanted rather sculpt again. I then had my complete model revised again during my vacation, especially the face. It simply lacked more details.

After the new sculpture was finished, I started again with the retopo. But this time I wanted to do it by myself, without the help of programs like “ZBrush” or “Instant Mesh”. I tried a “RetopoFlow” demo and I was excited. So, I got a license and got to work. To my regret, the finished retopo was very disappointing, because the nice details had “disappeared”.

Here you can see a few screens from RetopoFlow. The mesh is relatively dense, but it still doesn’t come close to the sculpt. The retopo of the feet and toes was an absolute disaster. I had to spread the toes in sculpting mode so I could put the polygons in between.

I hate feet and toes in 3D xD

When I finally finished the retopo I was very excited about it. Looking back, I have to say, “oh dear that didn’t look good xD”. The head was way too small, the feet too big, the hands too petite, etc.

The mesh had nearly 17k faces.

It again was time for the rig. This time I was just too lazy to build the rig from scratch. So I read myself into “AutoRigPro” and “Rigify”. I experimented a lot with the two rig systems again and observed how the rig behaved in Unity. I found that both rig systems were “not good” because they both caused problems in Unity. For example, with Rigify, Unity never found the head bone…? And…

… excuse me wtf are you doing with your leg, sir?

But after a lot of experimenting, I made a breakthrough with Rigify and was able to get a basic animation running on my model in Unity.

So now only color was missing on my model. Texturing still unsettles me today. I never had a steady hand for drawing and it was extremely difficult for me to draw straight lines. So, there was still the big question, what should my Anthro Dragon look like now? What colors and patterns should he have? Here, too, I experimented a lot and found something like Ninja Turtles really cool. In addition, I wanted to take green tones because I come from the beautiful Black Forest.

Then, of course, my guy needed pants. He could not run around naked all the time. But modeling clothes was also very new to me and I had absolutely no idea how I should start there. Luckily I found a beautiful pair of pants online and put them on him. Later I removed the pants again, because they were an absolute disaster. The mesh not good and absolutely not animatable.

My dragon had just about everything, but what really makes a character? The eyes! I found a beautiful tutorial and what can I say? They are simply the most beautiful eyes. How many minutes did I spend looking into the eyes of my dragon…? <3 They say that the eyes are the mirror to the soul. I wonder if this is also true for 3D characters?

And here is the Link to the awesome Eye Tutorial.

This picture was taken on 03/24/2020 and it was my first render! I wanted to get a typical “selfie” look. So my character raises the camera in his hand an is smiling beautifully. I also thought a lot about what my character’s name should be. I ended up with the idea to split my name into 2 “personalities”.


“Ady” is me as a human.

“Rian” is my alter ego.

I was also not very happy with the previous texture and experimented with what Blender had to offer. It was a lot of fun, but the nodes were also very confusing for me.

So I gave my character a new texture for the Untitled City Game and transferred Rian to Unity. We hadn’t worked with characters in class yet, so I didn’t know that the character couldn’t have a Mesh Collider and a Rigid Body at the same time. This reaction was absolutely disturbing xD

ok wtf?

In school, after the project, we had learned how to create textures for 3D models in Photoshop. I’ve never been a fan of Photoshop, but editing textures was fun. I also went back to the UV mapping. So far my character had no real UV because I had used rather simple plain textures and materials. And well what can I say… the UV of the main body looked really scary 🙂

Attack on Titan Rian Incoming!

Since I disliked Photoshop and one of my classmates told me that as students we can get a free Substance Painter study license, I immediately grabbed it. The program was once again new to me and I had to learn using it. And what can I say … SP is simply awesome!

I did have a working rig, but this was only for the body. The face had absolutely nothing. So I tried out a little face rig. I have never hated teeth and weight painting so much before.

I’m Venom!

With the Substance Painter license I finally got a nice texture! It is still relatively simple, but I find it very suitable. The scales were still much too large, but didn’t have so much time because of many projects at school.

After most of the school projects ended I had more time for my model. I was not satisfied with the body proportions and the head. So I asked a friend of mine if he could help me a little bit. He fitted the body very well. But unfortunately he had also made the quad mesh back into a tri mesh so he could sculpt better. The result completely blew me away!

A clear improvement of the character. I was also a little sad that I hadn’t managed this improvement completely myself, but now my model looks much better. Now the retopo had to be done again.

Left before, right after the improvement

Of course, some details disappeared again with the new retopo and I had adjusted a few proportions which just looked too extreme to me.

I like big Loops and I can not lie!
The red loop from the top picture is the main seam for the body.

The retopo and the base model were ready again. Then texture and rig followed relatively quickly. I had already repeated this many times, which made for a good learning effect.

The model had about 17k faces in the end, without clothes and jewelry. The texture fits well on the model.

I also bought a course that explicitly dealt with face rigging. It was very complicated and took an extremely long time, but I really hope it was worth the effort. The complete rig was made in Rigify.

The model was as good as ready, but what was still missing? A little jewelry perhaps? No sooner said than done. Boom! Chic chain, sweat bracelet and fancy gold earrings.

Then I designed my second render. This is from 08/13/2021, so it took me exactly 2 years to the day to reach this level. I am still far from being a professional, but in creating this article, my development has become clearer to me. I have learned extremely much and will continue to learn a lot.

What is a dragon without wings? A strange lizard? 😀 I’m not completely satisfied with these wings yet, but they should be enough for the beginning. In the near future I want to integrate my Rian into a Unity game as a main character. It is still a lot of work to make him actually game ready.