Doodle 4 Google: Meet the kid behind today's hand-drawn homepage

The Doodle 4 Google contest winner is 'Space Life,' an illustration by a seven-year-old named Matteo Lopez.

Doodle 4 Google winner Matteo Lopez of South San Francisco submitted this portrait of 'Space Life.'

Earlier this year, Google opened voting for the Doodle 4 Google contest, an annual showdown between school-age artists nationwide. Today, Google announced the winner: "Space Life," a gleefully weird interplanetary portrait created by Matteo Lopez, a seven-year-old from South San Francisco, California. Matteo had stiff competition –– tens of thousands of images were submitted, and five million votes were cast.

"Matteo’s doodle of the Google logo artfully depicts a trip to space, walking on the moon, and even making friends with aliens," Google executive Marissa Mayer wrote on the official Google blog. "Matteo has already soared to great heights, rising to the top of the more than 107,000 submissions sent in from all over the country." Mayer went on to list three national finalists: Joseph Eugene Miller of Wilmington, N.C.; Justas Varpucanskis from Mokena, Ill.; and Hannah Newsom in Fayetteville, Ark.

Young master Matteo reaps a bevy of rewards: a $15,000 college scholarship, a netbook computer – possibly a Chromebook? – a $25,000 technology grant for his school, and the glory of seeing "Space Life" featured today on the Google homepage. The runners-up each receive $5,000 scholarships, which ain't too shabby, either.

Among the most recent "official" Google doodles was an illustration celebrating the work of choreographer and dancer Martha Graham and a series of homages to Roger Hargreaves, an artist best known for his Mr. Men and Little Miss books. There were 16 Hargreaves doodles in all; if you're feeling ambitious – or if you're just a particular fan of Little Miss Bad or Little Miss Birthday, and so on – you can browse all 16 images here.

Amateur Google doodler? Drop us a line in the comments section below. In the meantime, for more tech news, sign up for the free Innovation newsletter, which is emailed out every Wednesday.

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