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Alonso Martinez - Digital Explorer and Inventor

Updated: Nov 28, 2020


Meet Alonso Martinez

Senior Technical Artist at Google AI (robotics)

This Project: Creating lovable characters through robotics

Alonso created digital characters for "Up," "Inside Out," and "Coco."

Watch his Kahn Academy interview



Alonso Martinez loves making movie characters come to life. He worked for more than 10 years at Pixar Studios. Alonso was a “rigger.” What is that? To find out, let’s look at Pepita in “Coco.”

The art department drew sketches of Pepita. Then Alonso made a sculpture of her on the computer. Next, he fixed digital strings to her, like a puppet. By turning knobs, he can make Pepita fly. He can make Pepita show emotions. Yes, emotions. Try this. Look in a mirror. Pretend you are mad. Your mouth frowns. Your eyes squint. Your fists clench. Your whole body shows you are mad. Animators had to move Pepita’s whole body to show us her emotions.


” I love this romantic idea of being an explorer or an inventor”

Alonso started wondering about robots. He never took a single class about them. But he watched a lot of YouTube videos. All of that exploring helped him make a family of “Mira” robots. Watch this video to learn about how he designed and built them.

Alonso is amazing. He doesn’t just ask new questions. He gets to work creating new answers. He laughs and says, “In a land where nobody knows anything, even the dumbest person can discover a lot.” And he is discovering a lot about characters, robots, and emotions. He is the explorer and inventor he dreamed of being.



Read these books about drawing characters . . .

Designing with Pixar: 45 Activities to Create Your Own Characters, Worlds, and Stories

by Smithsonian Design Museum, author Emily Haynes


Creativity abounds in this one-of-a-kind activity book from Pixar Animation Studios. Inspired by behind-the-scenes work of Pixar's animators, it encourages fans and artists to explore their own imaginations through Pixar's favorite characters and iconic scenes. Prompts from films such as Toy Story, Cars, Brave, Inside Out, and more invite discoveries about color, shape, character design, and scene setting—and how all of these interact to tell a visual story. This is a dynamic and inventive activity book like no other!

Visit Emily Haynes' Amazon author page.




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Cartoon Faces: How to Draw Heads, Features & Expressions (Cartoon Academy)

by Christopher Hart


Make a face—a funny face! The personality of a cartoon character begins with the face: the head, the features, the expressions. Get that right and you can create a memorable personality. Bestselling how-to-draw author Christopher Hart presents the ultimate tutorial on the topic in masterful detail, covering characters both male and female, from babies to adults, in all shapes and sizes. His accessible, step-by-step demonstrations go through all the features and explain how to build a character.

You can visit Christopher Hart's website or his Amazon author page. He also has books on how to draw anime and manga.


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. . . and watch these videos.




Draw with Pixar This is a wonderful collection of lessons.


How to draw a cartoon people by Christopher Hart


How to draw anime for beginners by Artimee


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Photo Credits


Alonso at the computer: This Photo is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Pepita: This Photo is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Alonso with robot: From "Adam Savage's Tested" YouTube Channel

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