The Mandalorian's Trick To Making Baby Yoda Look Real Explained

VFX artists discuss the trick used by The Mandalorian to make Grogu look so realistic. The Star Wars series debuted on Disney+ in 2019 with two universally praised performances: Pedro Pascal as the titular bounty hunter, Din Djarin, and Grogu as the world's beloved Baby Yoda. The duo has since gone on to become an all-time favorite amongst Star Wars audiences, who now highly anticipate the return of the father and son with The Mandalorian season 3 in February 2023.

Grogu rose to worldwide fame immediately following his brief appearance at the end of The Mandalorian episode 1. He was famously nicknamed Baby Yoda for his smaller yet strikingly similar appearance to iconic Jedi Yoda, and became the center of memes all over social media. Viewers have even gone to the extent of jokingly calling the series "The Baby Yoda Show" due to the fond admiration that surrounds the million-dollar puppet. Pascal himself has attested to how grand his love is for the "little one," insisting that he feels no jealousy towards Grogu and in fact feels as if their on-screen relationship the closest he's been to actually being a real-life father. The wonder of Grogu/Baby Yoda has been a staple throughout The Mandalorian and into The Book of Boba Fett, largely due to how realistic and child-like the Grogu puppet appears.


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Now, VFX artists from Corridor Crew on YouTube have shared the trick behind getting Grogu to look so realistic in The Mandalorian. While the use of a puppet for Baby Yoda is quite infamous, artist Wren reveals that he is still mostly a digital creation. The artist explains that the Grogu puppet is still used in most of, if not all, his shots. However, Grogu is also reinforced by a digital version created to resemble the puppet. Thus, rather than making a completely digital version based off the concept of a creature, the puppet came first, and informed how the digital version should look. This helps to make a more seamless transition between the puppet version of Grogu and the digital version.

"You know, for years, we would see puppets and real practical things in movies, and so we kinda just got used to seeing that and accepting that as real. And so when you have a show like The Mandalorian come out and, you know, little Baby Yoda — Grogu — who's a puppet in a lot of shots but also digital a lot more often than most people realize, but they designed the digital version of the puppet to look like the real puppet. And that sells it so much more than just like, 'Oh, actually, he would really look like this if he's a real creature.' It's like no, they're not making a creature, they're making a puppet."

The Mandalorian Baby Yoda Force Choke

These comments debunk the common belief that the Grogu seen onscreen is entirely a practical puppet, but also reveals just how impressive the technology behind The Mandalorian is. While the Star Wars show's revolutionary Volume is typically the focus of its technological wonders, it's interesting to see how these smaller details come together to make a more seamless overall effect. Viewers will have to come to terms with the fact that the Grogu they see is often digital, but can still feel connected to the puppet who forms the basis for every shot in the series. Pascal has mentioned before that the Grogu puppet performs some improv alongside him on set, which proves that it's still the puppet who informs the character's portrayal as opposed to the other way around.

The magic of Grogu will continue to be revealed by the arrival of The Mandalorian season 3 early next year. With the child now back in Din's care, he will now be back in action alongside his father figure. Grogu's brief appearance in The Book of Boba Fett revealed some of his training with Luke Skywalker, as well as a small taste of his strengthened powers, but it seems to only scratch the surface of what the little one is capable of. With lots of major battle and action sequences teased for the larger scope of The Mandalorian season 3, it looks as if Star Wars audiences will be seeing the Grogu/Baby Yoda effects at their best so far.