I remember a funny story when Val (one of the creators of Dora) came to my studio on Bleecker Street in New York City and looking at the first animatic for the first episode, said:  I like it a lot but I have one question, can we have Benny just turn around on that bike so he could face the camera?… and I was like:  “no we can’t just do it on the computer, we would have to redraw it”… 


Then I started thinking of getting 3-D programs for my studio computers. After working on some short 3-D animations, I realised it was very expensive and also it took a very long time at the time to render even one frame.


Now 20 years later I  can actually turn that Benny around, no problem without having to redraw it:) Last year I was asked to work on Dora again!  In the middle of quarantine, through a zoom meeting  which was so new to me:) But still at the meeting with the Nickelodeon team I was asked to work on Dora again! 


…at first my new 3-D characters were made with 3-D fur but because of budget  requirements all fur characters had to be redone, so now they have stylized fur.  But I think they still look pretty great!  

Anyway, now I know that all the characters are finally going to stay on model throughout the whole show! Also I have the opportunity to dress them up more and add some more details. Dora could have her more grown-up bracelet and other characters can have more details and finally have their gradient colors after all these years! 

First animation test for Dora and Boots in color and with boots on:)
(in the very first version Boots did not have boots)
Dora and Friends 3D pilot for internal use only.

Dora The Explorer pilot for internal use only.
Created in Poland and Funline Animation NYC, Still at 636 Broadway… Boots is still not wearing any boots. We have to wait 6 more month for the good news about the actual pick up of the show. Than busy, busy, busy for the next 15years! With over 5000 designs done for the Dora and then Diego show. Fun times, can’t believe all that was happening still on VHS – so sorry for such a bad quality. Have fun, Helena:)


At one point there’d been thoughts of making a live action/3D Dora movie, that’s why these characters look so different…(never used)


This drawing made by Krzysztof Giersz became one of the most famous images of Dora and Boots.

These are the original characters…I painted them on a piece of paper with watercolors (1998) I think the only character that did not get changed was Swiper. Boots was originally named Boots refering to rebooting a computer. His iconic red boots were added after critique from the desired audience (children) were wondering why “Boots” wasn’t wearing any boots. At the character development stage we were visiting different schools to get feedback from the students regarding whether they would watch the characters in action. At this point Dora was supposed to be just a computer game character with no familial backround, just this gang of friends :)….helena




Storybooks had to be created for each episode of Dora for research purposes, than showed to preschoolers for comments.

Storybook: ”Treasure Island”

Storybook: ”Egg hunt”

Dora’s and Diego’s First Steps – Before They Could Walk, and Before They Could Talk

Everything started in 1997 when I got a phone call from Nickelodeon asking for designs for a new children’s show called “Nina’s Pop-up Puzzle”, a show which would eventually become “Dora The Explorer”. That one phone call changed everything, and started my long journey with Nickelodeon’s “Dora The Explorer” and years later, “Go Diego, Go”.

I was told by the writers of the show that Nina, the future Dora, was supposed to be a character that lived in the computer, had a sidekick named Boots named for the computer term “reboot” who was a monkey, and together they solved math and language problems.

There was also supposed to be other characters including Tico, the Skunk, who eventually became a Squirrel, Swiper, the Fox, the only character that was never changed from my first sketch, Benito, the Bull, and Isa, the Iguana. Together, these group of friends worked toward a goal, and at the end of the episode, or level, the marching band would sing their little “Hurray” song, and everyone would say “You did it” just like popular kids computer games from the 90s.

Early on in the series development, research determined that Nina should have an additional goal, to teach viewers Spanish, and soon Nina, the green eyed, redheaded Irish girl became the dark haired, dark eyed Dora from Costa Rica. When we decided that Dora would come from Costa Rica, and as soon as the show got picked up for production, six people including myself , traveled to Costa Rica for a fantastic research trip and for the first time I was able to see the flavour and colourful world of the rainforest. This inspired me to make changes to some of the characters. Changes were happening throughout the production and many episodes later, suddenly Dora got a home, and a family. It’s a long story …