Bringing the Anatomy Textbook to Life with Ricardo Martinez

In this article
  • Internationally renowned Mexican artist, Ricardo Martinez, has a background in medical anatomy drawings, painting, and sculpture. He’s made a moving anatomical hand with the 3Doodler Create+ pen and the 3Doodler STEM kit.

  • Moving 3D anatomical models benefit those who may not learn as well through 2D visual resources.

  • You don’t have to be a sculptor or an anatomy expert to create this model.

  • Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the step-by-step tutorial and filaments used for this project.

Mexican sculptor, painter and textbook anatomy artist, Ricardo Martinez, has been diligently creating a realistic anatomical hand, made entirely with the 3Doodler Create+ pen, 3Doodler filaments, and the new 3Doodler STEM kit.

The joints are movable due to being created with the ball and socket DoodleMold included in the STEM kit. Likewise, the hand is able to be moved despite the layers of tissues and veins on top due to them being Doodled with FLEXY, our flexible filament for the Create+.

We had a chance to catch up with Ricardo to learn about his process making the hand, and he even provided a brief tutorial for you to follow along with, either with your students or at home.

"“…the advantage of a 3D anatomical figure is it that it gives students the opportunity to manipulate the hand, watch the muscles flex, follow the path of arteries and veins, and so on.”"-Ricardo Martinez Share

3Doodler: Thanks for taking the time to meet with us, Ricardo! Can you please give a brief introduction to who you are?

My name is Ricardo Martinez Herrera and I am a Mexican sculptor, painter, and photographer. In my work as an artist I go by Riikc. Since finishing my sculpture studies at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Belgium, I have had the great pleasure of creating dynamic art pieces around the world, including in Canada, Mexico, Belize, and now back in Belgium.

You used to create anatomical drawings professionally for medical use. Can you please share a brief history of your experience doing that?

My experience with medical drawing came long before my formal studies, while I was still living in Mexico. In fact, I feel incredibly lucky that someone decided to take a chance on this aspiring artist from Mexico, with no formal studies, but a real drive to apply himself in the art world.

  • White flower on table, created with a 3D pen.
  • 3D pen art: Holding small bird on white background.
  • Blonde woman with green eyes, 3d pen art.

One of my best friends was studying medicine and he came across a call for proposals from a group of researchers in the department. He passed it along to me, and I submitted an application with some of my past illustrations. The team accepted me almost immediately, and I was brought on to illustrate their upcoming publications. I ended up working with that team of researchers for several months, and my illustrations were featured in their published medical articles, and even a reference book.

The experience left a deep impression on me, in particular because I come from a family of doctors. My family has always been supportive of my pursuit of a career in the arts, but I don’t think they really understood the spectrum of art until they started to see my work published in medical journals and texts. It is easy to overlook how much of our world is underpinned by creative, artistic pursuits like these.

Based on your experience, can you comment on the benefits of learning from 3D anatomical figures as opposed to 2D drawings?

Many students learn best when they can be physically moving and interacting with an object. So, the advantage of a 3D anatomical figure is it that it gives students the opportunity to manipulate the hand, watch the muscles flex, follow the path of arteries and veins, and so on. This is really beneficial for students who may not learn as well through solely a 2D visual resource, like a textbook.

There is also the advantage of using 3D figures to explain systems thinking. Particularly in anatomy, it is important that students can think about how individual parts work, and then relate each of them to their function within the whole system. Even with myself, despite having been working with drawings for years, I found the structure of the hand so much easier to understand when I saw it layered into a 3D model, where you can physically trace each element and see how they are connected.

Ricardo’s Journey Creating the Anatomical Hand

1. Before starting, it was important for me to find the right reference materials. In my case, I was working with The Atlas of Human Anatomy and Surgery, which is not only a solid reference text, but it also contains illustrations that are visually beautiful.

2. From there I began with a pen-and-paper sketch of my own hand to use as a blueprint.

3. I then moved onto the ball and sockets to begin building out each finger joint. For the bones I used white ABS plastic, the standard nozzle, and the smoothing tool to give the bone texture. Once I had built out the general shape of each finger, I used a Dremel and sandpaper to smooth them out, and create a more realistic bone shape.

4. After the bones, I created the ligaments, using white and clear FLEXY plastic and the ribbon nozzle. This connective tissue was one of the quicker elements to create, as it simply reinforced the bones and joints and ensured their smooth articulation.

5. The ligaments were followed by muscles, drawn in red FLEXY plastic using the ribbon nozzle. I chose this nozzle because it creates a flat, sinuous thread that was much closer to the texture you would find in muscles. The challenge with this step is that muscles occur in several layers throughout the hand. This means that while the first layer of muscles might lay directly on-top of bone, there are others that will be on top of nerves, veins, and arteries. This step took a lot of precision.

6. I then drew the nerves in yellow FLEXY using the 0.5mm nozzle. Fingers are some of the most sensitive parts of the body, which means there are a lot of nerves running all the way to the tips of our fingers. This step required a lot of patience and attention to detail to accurately represent the paths of these nerves.

7. Finally, I drew the arteries in red FLEXY and veins in blue FLEXY, using the 0.5, 1, and 1.5 mm nozzles. The diameter of veins and arteries changes as they branch off toward the fingers, so at the base and top of the hand they are much thicker, while in the fingers they become much thinner.

8. Lastly, for educational purposes, you will see that I progressively added layers, but not on all parts of the hand. So the pinky is bone and ligament alone, the ring finger adds muscle, the middle finger adds nerves, and then the index finger and thumb include all elements.

3Doodler: For all of our STEM followers, do you have any advice on making 3D anatomical figures you can share with them?

My main advice is that you don’t need to become an expert on anatomy or sculpture before you start working, and you don’t have to have a full understanding of the final product right from the beginning. Focus more on the function of each element than you do on the form, and eventually you will come out with a useful model.

For instance, if you are unsure what type of material or nozzle to use, take a moment to study the element and its function. Ask yourself questions like, “How does this move?” “Where does this connect,” and “Should this be smooth, coarse, or sinewy?” When you focus on the function, and work one element at a time, the final form will eventually emerge.

Step-by-step for the creation of the hand:

The best way to start is to have a reference of the inner anatomy of the hand:

1. Draw the outline of your hand on a piece of paper.
2. Add bones to your 2D drawing
3. Mark every joint between phalanxes. These spots will require one ball and socket combo.
4. Create all the balls + sockets and join them accordingly. See pic.
5. Doodle the bones in!
6. Once the bone hand takes shape, add all other elements in this order:
    — Ligaments
    — Muscles
    — Nerves
    — Arteries
    — Veins

A list of the plastic colors and which anatomical parts they represent:

Polar white ABS plastic — Bones
Flexy White & Clear — Ligaments
Flexy Red — Muscles
Flexy Yellow — Nerves
Flexy Blue — Veins
Flexy Pomegranate Pow — Arteries

Are you inspired by Ricardo’s anatomical Doodles? Share them with others on social media, and let us know what you think!

Tag Us: @3Doodler, #3Doodler, #3DoodlerEDU

Be sure to follow Riikc on Instagram!

The Fine Art of Billy Dee Williams

Though revered for his iconic Star Wars persona, few know that the first love of Billy Dee Williams was fine art.

Billy Dee Williams Billy Dee Williams

Long before he took on Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back, he was granted the Hallgarten Award scholarship to attend New York’s National Academy of Fine Arts and Design. The truth is, his primary motivation behind his acting career was to fund his art supplies!

"“I am an artist no matter what I do. I live for creativity. I think everyone should. It is the antithesis of being destructive.”" Share

Billy Dee’s journey in fine art has been a lifelong endeavor, and though he has focused more on acting during certain periods, he has considered himself an artist first and foremost. In fact, he once created 120 paintings over a two-year period.

Most of his paintings are made with acrylic paints on canvas, applied with both a traditional paintbrush and an airbrush. He has also explored experimental art, creating custom 3D canvases that incorporate ceramics and neon light.

  • Large group of people in room - 3D pen art
  • 3D pen art: Woman on bench with man on chair
  • 3D pen art: Man riding motorcycle with guitar & others
  • Lg doodle: man running on track, stadium in background. 3D pen art.
  • Group of people with woman in dress 3D pen art
"“I was in the National Academy of Fine Arts and Design, on a scholarship. I was – still am – an artist. They were looking for an actor for ‘Take a Giant Step,’ and a producer liked my look and asked if I could act. I said, ‘Yep!’ Then I got into acting more or less just to make money for paints and canvases.”" Share

Billy Dee has had numerous art exhibitions in a variety of fine art galleries around North America, and has had originals on display at the Smithsonian Institution, the Schomburg Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Liss Gallery in Toronto.

Lando's 3D pen art: a man sitting in a garden chair

Williams has shared that some of his biggest inspirations in the field of art are the well known Mexican muralists José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera.

"“I don’t want to find myself ever locked into what people think I should think or do. In my art, and acting, I have a universal vision of things, an international vision. Bigger and broader and beyond. ‘Bigger than life’ is always on my mind.”" Share

He has expressed admiration for their paintings, and that they give the viewer “a sense that reality was much more than life.” Billy Dee has communicated that he himself wants his artwork to express this expansive quality.

Billy Dee’s works evoke powerful emotions in the viewer, telling larger-than-life stories through abstract compositions and vibrant color schemes. You can view an online gallery of Billy Dee’s artwork for purchase here.

Are you inspired by the artwork of Billy Dee Williams? Share your thoughts with our community on social media.

Tag Us: @3Doodler, #3Doodler, #3DoodlerEDU

20 Inspirational Quotes for 2020 from our STEM EDU Community

Now that we’re all getting back into the school rhythm, we wanted to share some great quotes we’ve received from 20 different teachers.

Many of you have spoken of amazing experiences with 3D pens in your learning environment, and we wanted to share them with our community to help spread some inspiration for the New Year. You can share these quotes on Twitter directly from the blog. Just click, post, and spread the inspiration!

Images courtesy of Steven Jones


"“I can’t say enough good things about the Start pen. It provides problem solving and perspective to students, which is very valuable. It’s another tool in the teacher’s toolbox to engage students in a new way, to engage learning in a new way.”"-Garrick Grace, District Technology Integration Specialist, Minnesota ISD 741, Paynesville, MN Share "“One interesting benefit is how engaged and focused my students who have attentional difficulties can be when doodling and creating their own designs. The 3Doodler pens have given some students a new way to learn about math, and have added a great deal of excitement to geometry time.”"-Mrs. Lounsbury, Wenonah Elementary School, Lake Grove, NY Share "“They were so engaged I heard a highly talkative student say, ‘Don’t distract me, I am working.’ This is every teacher’s dream! Do you have any idea how challenging it is to keep students on task at the end of the school year? Thank you for helping me find a wonderful, creative way, to keep my students engaged.”"-Mrs. Gardner, J W Seabrook Elementary School, Fayetteville, NC Share "“3Doodler pens are fantastic!! They keep my students creating for their entire session without breaks. Great tool for creation and attention building! 3Doodler pens are motivating my students to do so much more. They are easy to use and loads of fun.”"-Kirti Vyas, Brookside Elementary School, Monroe Township, NJ Share
Image courtesy of Susanne Firestone Image courtesy of Susanne Firestone


"“When using the 3Doodler pens, the students are quiet and happy Doodling. The 3Doodler pens are amazing tools for mental health and being in one’s own mind. Students are inspired to create by seeing other Doodles.”"-Velvet Holmes, District Technology Literacy Teacher, Oregon School District, Brooklyn, WI Share "“We started with basic 2D shapes like circles and squares. Then we moved on to cubes. Now they are inventing their own creations! It’s really neat to see them think about what will work and how they need to problem solve to make their creations come to life. They are so engaged when they are working with their 3D pens.”"-Ms. Smith, Woodford Paideia School, Cincinnati, OH Share "“It is our role as educators to support students. We can do this through facilitating the use of empathy and EdTech to improve our communities. This can be as simple as using a 3Doodler pen to create tactual artwork for someone with visual impairments, or as powerful as using artificial intelligence to better our society.”"-Steven Jones, Riverside School District 96, Riverside, IL Share "“Students used the 3Doodler pens in math class to build geometric models, base ten models, and more. The students who learn best through tactile representations really benefit from this hands-on option for showing their learning.”"-Mrs. Hubert, William Berkowitz Elementary School, Chelsea, MA Share

Creative Exploring

"“For every grade level, the 3Doodler Start is their favorite STEM center in the makerlab. They are relaxed using the Starts and they have fun being imaginative. Students aren’t afraid to fail with the 3Doodler pens. They are relaxed and social, and that’s the mindset you want.”"-Susanna Hite, STEM Teacher, St. Peter School, Geneva, IL Share "“Each student is responsible for drawing an organism in their food chain and making it 3D by using the 3Doodler pens. Along the way students have learned about trial and error and how designs are not going to be perfect the first time. This is a life skill that I’m constantly trying to demonstrate in my classroom. I want students to know that failure isn’t a bad thing and they can learn how to re-design and make it even better. This has resulted in some fabulous 3Doodler organisms!”"-Brittany Ballou, STEAM Teacher, Grange Hall Elementary, Richmond, VA Share "“These 3Doodler pens have made a tremendous impact on my classroom. Creating is the highest-order thinking skill, and with these pens, my students are able to create projects that help them visualize concepts they’ve learned in math, language arts, science, and various other subject areas.”"-Ms. Soriano, Waianae Elementary School, Waianae, HI Share
Images courtesy of Ellen Peterson
"“The 3Doodler pens created opportunities to explore reading from a different angle. As a result, scores increased by more than 10% overall and students made gains. This project encouraged at-risk readers to re-compose as they read and respond to text through visual literacy, technology, and engineering. The 3Doodler pens are AWESOME!”"-Mrs. Epps-Primas, Best Academy 6-12, Atlanta, GA Share "“After some practice and learning the technique, they were drawing people, animals, cars, plants, and putting together helicopters. It was truly amazing to see their projects come to life with all sorts of objects and vibrant colors.”"-Ms. Obata, Dewey Elementary School, San Gabriel, CA Share "“Students love the instant gratification of Doodling. The 3Doodler pens are more exciting than markers, pens, or paper, and more accessible than a full scale 3D printer. 3Doodler pens are a gateway to technology. My makerspace is 50% girls at all times, and 3Doodler is a great way to get girls interested in tech.”"-Robin Fosdick, Makerspace Coordinator, Morse Library, Natick, MA Share "“I’d definitely recommend 3Doodler to other teachers because it helps teach students to build 3D shapes from 2D shapes. Students can create anything they can think of. Where they are limited with building blocks, 3Doodler pens can make any shape.”"-Roland Fisher, Owner/Operator, Engineering for Kids, Indianapolis, IN Share


"“These pens have helped the students harness their creativity and have really allowed some students that tend to struggle with relationships and peers to shine. They amaze the other students with their skills and creations and it raises their confidence. That has opened the door for them to begin to build positive relationships with others.”"-Mrs. O'Reilly, Pembroke Elementary School, Virginia Beach, VA Share "“My students have worked non-stop to figure out the best way to build in 3 dimensions with our pens. They are helping each other, experimenting with new ideas, and building onto each other’s projects. In short, they are thinking! The best part is that they don’t even mind doing the work because they have a new “toy” to work with. Everyone is happy!”"-Ellen Peterson, Smithfield Middle School, Smithfield, VA Share
Images courtesy of Susanne Firestone
"“The students have loved using them to create sculptures, furniture, and prototypes for their projects. It’s been fun watching them create and teach each other tips and tricks on how to best use the 3Doodler pens. We are even finding ways to use the scraps and pieces that didn’t get used in finished sculptures.”"-Mrs. Kalcevic, Ardis Ann Middle School, Bentonville, AR Share "“The 3Doodler pens have been such a blessing to spark creativity in students that were otherwise stuck in a box. Bringing their 2-D learning into a 3-D world has brought basic learning and engagement into real life experiences they will never forget. As I write, my students are working cooperatively to develop 3-D models of their Simple Machines and then connecting them to create a new type of machine that can help the community.”"-Mrs. Smith, George Washington Carver Elementary School, Richmond Hill, GA Share

We want to express our sincere gratitude for all that each of you do to support the leaders of tomorrow. We are so happy that our 3D pens are a part of your teaching journey, and we are honored to be partners with you in the classroom.

Other teachers want to hear about your experiences with EdTech!

Share your story with them on Twitter.

Tag Us: @3Doodler, #3Doodler, #3DoodlerEDU
Posted in EDU

Kick off 2020 with 3Doodler Lessons and Tips from a Teacher

Getting lesson plans in order and planning for your class can be very time consuming, and with coming back after the holiday break there is a lot on your plate.

To help you transition back to school with ease, we have about 100 step-by-step lesson plans available in almost every subject! They are written by teachers, for teachers, and they call out alignment with educational standards such as NGSS, ISTE, CSTA, and Common Core.

Below is a list of some highlighted K-12 lessons that your class can launch the New Year with. We also have tips from Ellen Peterson, Smithfield Middle School’s Technology Resource Teacher, to help you get the most out of 3Doodler lesson plans.

K-2nd Grade

"When they have the opportunity to make models of their own, the learning that takes place is significant! Making models helps my students dive deeper into the content, plus, they usually are having fun while they are doing it."-Ellen Peterson Share
Lasso-Doodler Roundup
Time: Two 45-60 minute sessions
Skill: Beginner
Grades: K to 2nd

In this lesson, students will work with a partner to lasso words together that create contractions. Students will doodle a lasso, use it to isolate words that form contractions and then doodle the contractions to share with the class.

*Session 1 may be used for doodling the lasso.
*Session 2 may be used for lassoing and doodling the contractions.

STEM: Doodle-Parachute-Jumpers (Design Investigation)
Time: Two 45-60 minute sessions
Skill: Beginner
Grades: K to 2nd

In this lesson, students will work in pairs using the 3Doodler to design and create different parachute jumpers, as well as an aerodynamic parachute crafted with everyday objects, e.g., coffee filters and string. Students will make predictions, collaborate, problem-solve, test and retest in this hands-on design project.

MATH: Doodle-Touch-Dots (Addition)
Time: One 30-45 minute sessions
Skill: Beginner
Grades: K to 2nd

In this activity, students will work in pairs to practice adding numbers from 0-9 using touch dots. Students will add touch dots to numbers, and then doodle their own touch dot numbers to create unique addition problems to solve.

3rd-5th Grade

"One thing I recommend to teachers when doing 3Doodler lessons is to build a prototype before asking their students to make one so they can have a reference."-Ellen Peterson Share
STEM: Stars and Constellations
Time: One 45-minutes session
Skill: Intermediate
Grades: 3rd to 5th

In this activity, students will work in pairs to research what causes the apparent brightness of stars and constellations. Students will write a fact-based argument to respond to this question and then create a model of a selected constellation with a 3Doodler and glow in the dark plastic sticks.

Doodle-the-Dots (Multiplication Patterns)
Time: One - 45 minute session
Skill: Intermediate
Grades: 3rd to 5th

In this activity, students will work independently to practice multiplication by connecting-the-dots with a 3Doodler. Students will predict which numbers will result in the same shapes. Students will combine shapes to create an artistic display of their multiplication facts.

6th-8th Grade

"If you are expecting your students to work in groups to share a pen, I recommend clearly defining roles for each group member, or setting time limits for pen use. When using timers in groups, make sure the other group members have something to do while waiting for their turn to Doodle, like drawing their ideas, writing about them, or otherwise."-Ellen Peterson Share
ELA: 3Doodler Stop-Motion
Time: One 45-minute session
Skill: Intermediate
Grades: 6th to 8th

In this activity, students will work in pairs or small groups to identify the theme of a fictional text, summarize a scene that best reflects the theme, and create a 3Doodler stop-motion animation to enact the scene. Creative thinking skills will be integrated into this hands-on project that will help you assess your students' level of comprehension.

STEM: Doodled Animal Prosthetics
Time: One-two 50-minute sessions
Skill: Intermediate
Grades: 6th to 8th

Doodle Doctor, STAT!

In this bioengineering and design activity, students will work in pairs to design and doodle a prototype for an animal prosthesis that meets the constraints of a simulated design problem.

9th-12th Grade

"Once you’ve decided on a specific lesson, make sure you have plenty of extra materials on hand. For new students, they need a certain amount of “playing” before they create a 3D model for a specific assignment. I have my students make a small stick figure statue and I have them practice molding a few parts together before expecting them to produce something assignment-related."-Ellen Peterson Share
The Basic Unit of Life: Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells (STEM)
Time: Two 60-minute sessions
Skill: Advanced
Grades: 9th to 12th

In this activity, students will work in pairs to doodle two cell models, one of a prokaryotic cell, and one of a eukaryotic cell. The students will build all parts in each model such as the nucleus, plasma, cytoplasm, mitochondrion, etc. The student pairs will analyze and record the differences and similarities between the cells.

Time: Two 45-minute sessions
Skill: Intermediate
Grades: 9th to 12th

In this activity, students will work individually to create a Rutherford model of an atom. Students will also work with a partner who will be responsible for double-checking their work for accuracy as the project is worked on. Their work will be shared with the rest of the class and displayed for other classes to see.

Want to see more free K-12 lessons? Go browse our 3D Pen lesson library.

Other teachers want to see what you’re doing in your learning environment! Share your classroom happenings with them on Twitter, and be sure to follow Ellen Peterson.

Tag Us: @3Doodler, #3Doodler, #3DoodlerEDU

Banner image courtesy of Brittany Ballou .

Close-up: 3D pen art cake with sticks design

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