Stephan Dybus’ wobbly, unpredictable 3D characters are here to make you chuckle

Far from traditional and charmingly human, the illustrator’s animated worlds “blend the realms of acrylic painting, plasticine sculpting and contemporary 3D art”.

12 June 2024

Stephan Dybus describes his work as a practice that is “always shifting in between the boundaries of illustration, fine art and digital art”. When talking about the influences for a more recent move into 3D animation work he says: “Being a kid of the 90s and early 2000s, I was always naturally involved with internet and game culture”. It was perhaps this childlike wonder surrounding the digital world that has fuelled the Berlin-based artist’s evolution into playful simulated environments, which house his wobbly and unpredictable characters.

Completely self taught, the illustrator says he has made great use of the online world to learn programmes, digging deep into the process of 3D animation, “exploring instead of just aiming for the results”, he says, inviting all the failures that came along the way. He previously focused his energy on the creation of analogue works, creating illustrations with buildable watercolour layers. It wasn’t until after his university career where “drawing on computers wasn’t really encouraged” that he was able to truly bring together his “natural interest in artificial 3D environments” and his “cartoon-like storytelling”.

Although somewhat sporadic and surprising, the artist’s animations follow some strict rules: “My characters are always simplistic, so the viewer can easily transport themselves into the works and the characters’ situation” Stephan tells us. This unmistakable human quality to each of his plasticine-like figures is something that the artist believes is key in achieving a sense of connection with his audience as well as a great sense of humour in his work: “As humans we are very sensitive to the movement of a thing [...] when an artificial character does these movements, it triggers a reaction in us, we see something strangely familiar,” he explains.

Subjected to the real and messy laws of physics, dealing with spilling liquid simulations, Stephan’s characters are rarely completely in control of themselves in his 3D environments. Whilst light and humorous to observe, they do often leave you sympathising with a somewhat existential suffering, as we watch one of Stephan’s characters attempt a tattoo, a painting or the creation of a sculpture with little to no luck and some wonderfully messy failures in movement.

Through his animations, Stephan has created simulations in which the characters themselves are making generative art, a process that he thinks is all too often “about the pretty picture generated”, he says. Much more interested in failure and human connection in the digital world, his character Steven’s messy artworks, made as a product of these simulated environments, provide us instead with a laughable spectacle of imperfection and a “story of the human being behind the art” that the artist believes is so integral to his medium.


Stephan Dybus: Illustration for Brandeins on phone addiction (Copyright © Stephan Dybus, 2023)


Stephan Dybus: Illustration for Weekendavisen (Copyright © Stephan Dybus, 2023)


Stephan Dybus: Quality Time (Copyright © Stephan Dybus, 2024)


Stephan Dybus: GTATT still (Copyright © Stephan Dybus, 2023)

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Stephan Dybus: Touch Base (Copyright © Stephan Dybus, 2023)

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About the Author

Ellis Tree

Ellis Tree (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a junior writer in April 2024 after graduating from Kingston School of Art with a degree in Graphic Design. Across her research, writing and visual work she has a particular interest in printmaking, self-publishing and expanded approaches to photography.

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