June 4, 2014

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Natalie Nourigat's Amsterdam Sketchbook

For those who like to look behind the scenes at what an artist does to gain inspiration and ideas, or just record the world around them, there's nothing better than a sketchbook. It's a clear, usually untouched look at how the creator works.

For those who enjoy travel comics, it's always a great find when a creator you enjoy puts their artistic eyes to work on showing what they've seen and done on a trip overseas, or even to nearby locations.

In her Amsterdam Sketchbook, Periscope Studio member Natalie Nourigat, shares a look at the drawings she created while making her away around Amsterdam for the first time. The highly talented artist who paired with writer Jamie S. Rich on 2013's excellent A Boy and a Girl makes her Monkeybrain debut with this work.

It's a bit of a hybrid animal from the usual take. The results are more specialized than a normal sketchbook (as you might expect) but are also not as detailed as in the usual travel journal. Nourigat's comic takes a page from both camps in its construction. The nice thing, however, is that this combination works well. There's plenty of art samples for those who want to see pieces of art from Nourigat in various stages of completion, from rough inks to colored pieces. At the same time, we're able to see the local scenery and the people who live in Amsterdam as Natalie views them, often from the same type of window that creators of all kinds stare out at for inspiration, regardless of where they live.

Perhaps the best part of this sketchbook, even though I'm not personally much of an artist, was her process pages. I love improving my ability to understand comic art by reading about how it is created. In this case, Nourigat takes the time to discuss the pens and other tools she uses in the pages that follow, along with a running discussion of why. The idea of picking something because it doesn't bleed across pages is common sense, of course, but getting to read about how this is tested, how paper impacts on the process, and the use of markers, wash, and even a glitter pen is fascinating reading. Once you get a feel for Natalie's choices, seeing them in action and knowing, "Hey, that's the DB Twin she was talking about on page 3!"

The bulk of the work is on character impressions, including some humorous notes such as the one about the way a man rode his bike, translated into his walking posture. There are also some pointed comments on fashion, which makes sense because of how many people Natalie sketches out. Her eye for detail is strong, and the wide variety of body shapes, clothing, and shoes makes it clear why her work on a long-form comic is excellent.

If you enjoy looking at process art or travel comics, this is a great pick-up for a mere 99 cents, making it by far the least expensive sketch comic I've ever had the pleasure of running into. Ms. Nourigat is a great creator with a larger sketchbook on its way (from the Periscope Kickstarter) and now I really can't wait to get my hands on it later this year. This one gets my highest possible recommendation for those clicking around for the best comics to pick up from Comixology this week!