Natalie “Tally” Nourigat is a writer and cartoonist from Portland, Oregon.  She is a story artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank CA, storyboarding and participating in story rooms for feature films.

Natalie has collaborated with great companies like Marvel Comics, Wieden+Kennedy, Nike, Image Comics, Oni Press, Le Lombard, and Dark Horse.  Her work has been nominated for the Eisner Award, GLAAD Media Award, and Oregon Book Award.  Natalie loves traveling and learning languages; she majored in Japanese in university and lived in France 2013-2014.  You can find her around Los Angeles with a sketchbook in one hand and coffee in the other.

Click here to view her CV.



Companies: Adidas, Allstate, Amazon, America’s Got Talent, Bitch Media, Brooks, Disney, Dove, Frederator Studios, GE, Kohler, Nike, Nintendo, Portland Mercury, Reebok, Upstream Public Health

Publishers: Archaia, BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, Image Comics, Le Lombard, Lerner Books, Marvel Comics, Monkeybrain Comics, Oni Press, Penguin Books

Agencies: Bunker, Conic Group, Eyeball on the Floor, The Great Society, happylucky, Kamp Grizzly, Magic+Might, Vayner Media, Wieden+Kennedy


Do you have any advice / tips / tutorials?

Yes!  I wrote a large post with resources for animation careers HERE, and another large post for aspiring comics artists HERE.

What do you use to draw digitally?

Since 2013, I draw my comic pages and storyboards completely digitally.  I “pencil,” “ink,” and “letter” either in Photoshop CC or in Clip Studio Paint.  At home, I use a desktop PC and a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet, and at work I use a Macbook and 24″ Cintiq.  I highly recommend purchasing the Frenden brush pack, Ron Chan’s brushes, and Kyle Webster’s brush packs; they make it a LOT easier to draw natural-looking lines.  I pencil everything in Clip Studio Paint with the “layout blue” pen and I ink with a modification of the “inker brush”.  I color my pages in Photoshop, mostly just using the pencil tool (so it’s easier to make selections with the magic wand and change my mind about the colors).



Animation industry advice for students Nourigat image 2



Do you recommend the iPad for drawing?

I post a lot of sketches from my iPad Pro. It’s really fun to draw on; I love sketching my coworkers during meetings and taking the iPad to figure drawing. BUT — I only draw on the iPad because I was given one for free at work. I see it more as a fun toy than a professional tool, and I would not have spent my money on it if I didn’t have one from work.  I know there are people who produce beautiful, print-quality work on the iPad, but I never got comfortable drawing finished / inked lines or colors on it.

What pens/tools do you use to draw with on paper?

In my sketchbook (Bee Paper’s Super Deluxe Mixed Media Paper), I use a Platinum Carbon Pen for my line art, a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen to fill in big black areas, a Pentel Aquash Waterbrush Pen for gray washes (I fill the cartridge with water and add about 10 drops of black India ink), and a generic white gel pen or white paint Sharpie for corrections and highlights.  Sometimes I mix it up and draw with a Kuretake disposable pocket brush pen.  Sometimes I draw with pencil, but often I draw directly with ink (it makes me commit to my lines and draw more confidently and quickly).

I also carry a little palette of 12 Winsor & Newton watercolors (I’ve swapped out the colors it came with for a more basic palette). With another Pentel Aquash Waterbrush Pen, this time just full of water, and a paper towel, I have a totally mobile watercolor kit. The Platinum Carbon Pen ink is totally water-proof after it dries, so it pairs really well with watercolors!

On rare occasion I’ll carry Copic markers with me and use them in my sketchbook.


Do you have sketchbooks?

Yes, I publish a lot of my sketchbook material to social media.  Once in a while I collect the highlights into larger PDFs and sell them on Gumroad.

I’ve had a few people ask about buying sketchbook art, and I don’t want to cut up / separate my sketchbooks, so I don’t sell sketchbook art.

How do you do those life drawings of people on the street?

I started doing this in 2012 to improve my “everyday” characters, like the people who populate the backgrounds of my comics.  I took my sketchbook and a couple of pens (no pencils!) to any cafe around town with a seat looking out on a street with good foot traffic, and drew the people that I saw walking past.  Like anything else, practice makes it easier and easier to take a quick mental impression of a person’s defining characteristics and body language, and then transfer those to a drawing.
People don’t tend to stand still, but it’s good practice to try drawing a “moving target”!  I watch people while I can see them, and begin my drawing as soon as they’re out of sight.  I make up what I can’t remember.  I go quickly and focus on the overall impression of the person–trying to get across their mood or motion more than a photo-realistic impression of them.  The more I do this, the better I’ve gotten at knowing what to look for and remember in those brief seconds I’m able to see the person.  I focus on the person’s posture, proportions, and where their eyes are looking.  Hopefully, I remember a couple of things about what they’re wearing, too.
If you’re in Portland and want to try this exercise, I recommend the cafe in Powell’s overlooking the intersection of Burnside and NW11th.  That’s the best life drawing spot I’ve ever found.  The bar-style seating is great for drawing, people in the cafe are absorbed in their books and unlikely to bother you, the foot traffic outside is a diverse cross-section of Portlanders, and pedestrians tend to pause at that intersection before crossing the road, so they might even stand still for half a minute!
In LA, I recommend Grand Central Market, The Grove Farmer’s Market, Muscle Beach, WoodCat Coffee Bar in Echo Park, Echo Park Lake itself, Figaro Bistrot and Tacos tu Madre on Vermont Avenue.
If you’re not in either city, I recommend going to a shopping mall, a beach, a cafe or restaurant downtown, or finding a spot across the street from a bus stop (read: a rotating group of people standing still).
Once in a while someone on the street or in the cafe sees what I’m doing, but in several years I’ve only had one or two people ask to see my sketches, and they’ve always grinned and been supportive.  Of course you need to be respectful, and try not to creep people out.  An art teacher once told me that if someone makes eye contact with you 3 times while you’re drawing them, you should stop.  I’m a little more anxious, so I stop after just one instance!

Where can I buy prints of your work?

Cadence now carries my prints!

Can I buy original artwork from you? Can I commission you?

Not at this time. My day job keeps me very busy and I haven’t found a way to make original art sales as profitable as they need to be for the time they require.

Can you advise me on art school / no art school?

Everybody’s situation is different, but here’s my two cents:

If you can afford it and you got into a great school, go for it! A good art school will put all of the resources you need at your fingertips. It can really level you up quickly, and introduce you to a big network of other artists and people working in studios who can help you get a foot in the door.
But…art school is really expensive, and a lot of art schools are predatory (they will accept anyone, don’t have rigorous courses, are just out for your money). There are some animation jobs that require a specific art degree, but a lot of them don’t. I didn’t go to art school, and I know and work with TONS of people who didn’t go to art school. If you’re worried about taking on debt, or you aren’t sure about the art schools you got into, I recommend not going. It was incredibly helpful for me at the beginning of my career to not have debt; it allowed me to take art jobs that didn’t pay very much instead of forcing me to take more lucrative day jobs. You can teach yourself almost all of the same things as an art school; it just takes a lot more work on your part! I list a bunch of alternative art learning resources in this blog post.

What books do you recommend for storyboarding?
Framed Ink by Marcos Mateu Mestre
Storyboards: Motion in Art by Mark Simon
100 Tuesday Tips by Griz and Norm
Art of Storyboard by Don Bluth
Five C’s of Cinematography
Animation Writing and Development: from Script to Pitch
Directing the Story by Francis Glebas
Shot by Shot
Setting Up Your Shots by Jeremy Vineyard
Story by Robert McKee
The Visual Story by Bruce Block
Can I ask you questions about working at Disney / getting into Disney?

I’m not a recruiter or a spokesperson for the studio. I put all of the advice I have into this blog post. That’s really all I have to say about it. For further questions, you can visit the Disney Animation website.

Will you look at / give me feedback on my portfolio?

I’m not allowed to look at portfolios anymore. :(

Will you mentor me?

I can’t do that, I’m sorry.

I have to interview an artist for a class assignment…

I’m so sorry you got that assignment. It’s notoriously hated among working artists. Most people, myself included, will decline because we don’t have the time. We really wish teachers would stop assigning it.

I’m coming to L.A.! Can we hang out? Can I visit Disney?

I’m sorry, but I don’t meet up with people I don’t know like that, and I’m personally responsible for my guests at the studio, so I only invite people I know well. Thank you for understanding.

Will you attend a convention in my city? / Will you attend an event at my shop? / Will you speak to my class?

If there’s a convention you’d like to see me at, I’d be thrilled if you contacted them and asked them to invite me as a guest!  I have a day job and it’s pretty hard for me to get away right now, but I do enjoy getting out to events when I can.

Can you suggest any comic titles that are appropriate for young readers?

Yes!  Comics make excellent reading material for people of all ages.  For parents of young readers, it can be a little scary to see how much adult content is out there, but there are lots of great all-ages and teen titles to check out:

All Ages Comic Recommendations:
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
Asterix by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Chi’s Sweet Home by Kanata Konami
Cucumber Quest by Gigi D. G.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Dragon Puncher by James Kochalka
Fantasy Sports by Sam Bosma
Moomin books by Tove Jansson
Smile and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Owly by Andy Runton
Mouse Guard by David Petersen
Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

Teen Comic Recommendations:
Adventure Time by Ryan North, Braden Lamb, and Shelli Paroline
The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé
American Born Chinese, Level Up, and Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegender
Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba by Kiyohiko Azuma
Batgirl: Year One by Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon, Marcos Martin, and Alvaro Lopez
Bone by Jeff Smith
Card Captor Sakura and Angelic Layer by CLAMP
Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales by various creators
Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi
Courtney Crumrin and Polly & the Pirates by Ted Naifeh
DC Superhero Girls by Shea Fontana and Yancey Labat
Foiled by Jane Yolen and Michael Cavallaro
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
Giant Days by John Allison, Whitney Cogar, and Lissa Treiman
Ghosts and Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl
Hilda books by Luke Pearson
I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura
Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt
Lumberjanes by Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, & Noelle Stevenson
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Mercury, Gray Horses, Compass South, and A Wrinkle in Time by Hope Larson
Ms Marvel by Sana Amanat, Stephen Wacker, G. Willow Wilson, and Adrian Alphona
Nameless City, Friends with Boys, and The War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks
Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind by Hayao Miyazaki
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Primates by Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks
The Prince and the Dressmaker, In Real Life,and Koko Be Good by Jen Wang
Relish, Age of License, and French Milk by Lucy Knisley
Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim
Seconds, Scott Pilgrim, and Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane by Sean McKeever and various artists
Super Pro K.O. by Jarrett Williams
Teen Titans Go! by J Torres
This One Summer and Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Tomboy by Liz Prince
Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Erica Henderson and Ryan North
Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai
The Witch Boy and Strong Female Protagonist by Molly Ostertag
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

What is the best way to contact you?

Via e-mail:

I am receiving exponentially more mail and messages every year.  As much as I would like to, it is no longer possible to reply to everything.  Please know that I read and appreciate all messages, but unless yours relates to work I am doing or want to do, I may not be able to write you back.

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Natalie Nourigat at the pedal powered talk show
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