Bringing life to hand drawn characters: meet 3D Artist and Character Maker Alex Hindle

April 17, 2024
10 min read

Alex Hindle caught us a bit by surprise when we saw his animation submission for our "Rokoko TV Animation Challenge" competition, and we were very happy for him when the jury decided to award him the 1st prize in the "Best Render" category.

A real craftsman using pencil and paper to bring characters to life, Alex is an inspiration for any character modeller or animator that perceives the value of going from pencil to screen in their creative process.

We are very happy to share his story with you, happy reading!

Hi Alex! Could you tell our readers a bit about who you are and what you do?

Hello! I'm Alex, a 3D artist. Over the last 20 years, I've worn a bunch of hats in filmmaking, animation, art direction, AV production, and CGI.

Characters have mostly been a personal sideline for me, a little place I can scurry off to and nibble away at.

How did you get started in 3D and how did you first start animating?

I’ve loved animation since childhood. In contrast to the staple diet of daytime cartoons, I discovered the more avant-garde animation shows on late-night British TV in the late '80s and '90s, and I was hooked. I would be constantly drawing and crafting plasticine figures with rudimentary wire food tie armatures. I wanted to bring my characters to life even then.

When it came to education, there were a lack of dedicated animation courses at the time, so my way in was to study graphic design, where I discovered and self-taught the basics of (now prehistoric) 3D and animation software, practically living in the college's Mac suite.

After all my studies, I joined the Soup Collective: an independent group of filmmakers, artists, animators, and coders. We were involved in all sorts of projects from music video production and documentaries to large-scale immersive cinema. This naturally fostered a creatively open and experimental environment, and pushed me to work with various animation techniques, from stop-motion, digital 2D to 3D.

Mr. Swirls by Alex Hindle

If you had to choose, what is the single most defining characteristic that makes your content unique and entirely yours? In other words, what would you say is your artist trademark?

If I had to distil it, ‘grotesque’ could capture it. I definitely lean towards the more misshapen and off-kilter in my creative process, not out of distaste for more polished aesthetics in character design, I like that too.

However, I find I’m drawn to make things with a certain strangeness about them, that live somewhere in the space between absurdist comedy and horror... I like a good visual pun too.

Do you have a favourite artwork or project you're especially proud of?

Moon Man’s a good one. One of those simple ideas that came out with a deeper resonance. He's 10 years old now, so it's a good time to revisit and finally get him animated.

Moon Man by Alex Hindle

What has been the most significant change to your life, since you started creating 3D content?

Winning the ROKOKO TV Animation Challenge competition has felt significant. It's been like a mini epiphany, signalling hopefully the beginning of a new direction.

I've been away from animation for a few years, and only recently have been learning Unreal as a filmmaking tool and ways I could animate my own characters.

The experience was a mix of 'what ifs,' along with the usual doubts and technical hurdles. Having it so well received in the end, was incredible. It has reignited my passion for filmmaking and animation.

Name three pieces of equipment (software or hardware) that you can’t live without.

Pencil, if that qualifies as hardware. That’s where the art journey began, and what I return to for a creative outlet.

My ageing Wacom. Being able to even sculpt digitally still mystifies me, and I couldn’t go without.

I’ve had the Rokoko mocap bundle for a week, as of writing this, and already it feels like we shouldn’t part.

Talking about gear, what do you love about Rokoko mocap tools / why should anyone buy them?

I have some 3D animation skills, although certainly not as sharp as specialist pro animators. I get by! It’s the personal projects that truly test my limits and often exceed my ambitions when it comes to filmmaking.

What draws me to Rokoko’s mocap tools is the opportunity for exploration, freeing me from the stages of animation that can require huge amounts of time and preplanning when you're a solo operation. Being both the puppeteer and puppet is also a bit of a mad concept that fits with how I like to think.  


Do you currently have any artists that inspire you in your work?

I have some old favourites. Fluck And Law’s satirical caricatures, Spitting Image was an early inspiration that dug its way into my subconscious, I can return to their sculptures and editorial illustrations and still find inspiration.

Others include Terry Gilliam, David Lynch, the Brothers Quay, Goya. All the weird and wonderful stuff basically!

What advice do you have for aspiring 3D creators? What would you say are the key ingredients when learning 3D you wish you had known from the start?

3D modelling was a big struggle early on. Then, when I first discovered digital sculpting, that was an uphill struggle also.

Perseverance, I believe, is my key ingredient.  All aspects of your craft, both technical and stylistic, need time to mature.

Try not to be discouraged if the work you're currently proud of looks a bit iffy later on. It can be a positive sign of artistic growth.

Can you reveal some of your next projects that we can look forward to?

There’s shorts in mind, revisiting older characters and new ones. I think more shorter form experiments will come first, while I get acquainted with the mocap tools and build on my process.


Thank you for sharing your story with us Alex!

You can follow Alex's work on Instagram and Artstation.

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