FatNats Sketch Blog

The sketch blog of Nathan gaul

Dungeon Drawing Dudes Wrap Up

Well I had to do the last few in March but here are the remaining characters from february’s #dungeondrawingdudes challenge.

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Dungeon Dudes Continues

Hi all! So here are some more images created for the Dungeon Drawing Dudes challenge

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Dungeon Dudes

So while working on 3D pieces for my portfolio I wanted to find a sketch activity to inspire me to keep drawing. I found a fun list through instagram here> #DungeonDrawingDudes

So here are the first three days images.

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I encourage any artist to find a challenge like this to take part in. The key is to find one you will enjoy and that will challenge you to tackle subject matter that you haven’t tried before.

Stay tuned for the rest.



Schoolism & the “Oh!” moment

The Gobbler. Created during a Sketchbook Rescue

Something I have often heard is that Devoting a portion of your time and percentage of your budget to learning new tools and understanding can have a huge impact on an Artist. In my personal experience, each time I have invested in instructional courses or tools to help me better understand my craft it has lead to a breakthrough moment. One of those moments where something you have heard a thousand times finally nestles into your grey matter and you realize “Oh! That’s what they mean.”

Those moments are so fulfilling because the concept that is absorbed begins to work it’s way into your art, popping up naturally without the artists’ efforts. In my experience it is when pushing my boundries and doing something outside my comfort zone that those wonderful moments tend to happen. A great way to take a guided tour outside of your comfort zone is through online instructional courses.

While I have had good experiences with other providers, I have found that Schoolism is particularly good at offering high quality instruction at varying levels of investment. The option to sign up for courses taught by top artists in the industry which include video feedback on your work is phenomenal.  For someone on a budget it is hard to beat Schoolism’s monthly subscription model. I recently signed up and started watching the lesson videos for Painting Creatures with Bobby Chui.

I began watching it while I worked on a sketch I had recently cleaned up in a Sketchbook Rescue operation. I just wanted to try and get a few technical tips and methodology for the workflow that bobby uses to create his images. In the very first lesson Bobby laid out the importance of story and a good way to approach it. After watching the lesson and letting it sink in I returned to focus on my image and really analyse what kind of story I was telling. It was lacking.


My image was really just a big multi armed alien gobbling up cute creatures. Kinda funny  and cute but somewhat shallow. I also realized the environment I had been creating around him didn’t help tell any story at all. I thought about the lesson and began redesigning my landscape to help tell a story. That re focusing lead to the addition of another character and his spaceship which added important depth to the images’ story.

After one lesson I felt a dramatic impact on my work and while pursuing the improved story I was sprinting through the unfamiliar territory of environment design. Not with a hesitant uncertainty about how the landscape should look, but with a clear vision of the path to tread.

Every time I have dedicated myself to an online course I have seen growth in my understanding and abilities. I highly recommend that anyone with an interest in developing as an artist check out Schoolism and other online art education. They are worth the investment.



Problem Solving & Flash Cleanup


There are artists who can envision the finished character before ever putting pen to paper or tablet. Artists who are so comfortable using a tablet and brush tool that they can effortlessly  put down brush strokes that faithfully transfer the images in their mind onto the screen. I ain’t one of them.

I need to get my hands dirty, start putting ideas down, start solving problems, and refine the image as it develops. Luckily in art there are often as many ways to tackle a problem as there are people faced with it. So when you find yourself hitting a wall it may be time to rethink the method you are using and develop one that plays to your strengths. You face problems as they arise until your method works to your strengths and gets the results you are after. Soon you  will have an approach that can rely on because it plays to your strengths and you know it works.

Check out FatNatFun Episode #3 Problem Solving & Flash Cleanup  on my youtube channel to see the method I developed to clean up characters in Flash.




Working From Reference FNF#2

Working From Reference and a solid reference gathering session can be like finding a dictionary of words you have never heard before. Working from reference broadens  your visual vocabulary which has many benefits to an artist. A robust command of the visual language allows the artist to communicate with the viewer more clearly; even if their spoken languages are completely different and alien to each other.

Reference sketch of Bateluer Eagle.
Reference sketch of Bateluer Eagle.

There are imagery and symbols which cross over the barriers present in other forms of communication. Working from reference can help the artist understand,explore, and finally utter these new phrases in the visual language.

In this Video I show how working from reference can help an artist make informed decisions, communicate more clearly, and problem solve design issues while creating a character.






Random Shapes & Visual Language

Hey internet. After much hesitation I have decided to make a demo video and share it with you via YouTube. It covers the random shape exercise, which is my favorite sketching warm up. I also talk about visual language as I cleanup a random shape into this bird character.


In the video I show a sped up demo of taking several random shapes and turning them into characters. I mentioned I would post them on this blog so here you go.  I hope you guys will give it a watch and let me know what you think.



The Product: Part one



In my last post I linked to this awesome video by Mr. Jake Parker. It really struck a chord with me as I am very guilty of having a lot of projects that are always being chipped away at but never actually finished. As he says in that video I need a product not a project. So here goes.

I will be following the approach laid out in that video as an experiment to see if it will work for me. I will post my progress here in a more thorough way and use my Twitter and Instagram to post some snapshots of the product as it comes together.

Step one: Choose Wisely. The product I have decided to make is a storybook based on a Nigerian fable. My lovely wife Nkemjika has told me many things about her homeland and on some occasions I have pressed her to hear about the mythology and legends of her people. During one of those cherished  conversations she told me some fables that feature animals as the main characters. The one I liked immediately was the story of how the Tortoise cracked his shell.

The Tortoise is clever and wise in a sneaky sort of way and a bit of a trickster so he should be fun to draw poses for. Also I love drawing reptile characters so it seems like a good fit. The length of the story seems like it will work well for a picture book as well and with about 14 illustrations planned I think it is doable in a few months. Anyways I think it should be a fun endeavor and I will have a nice picture book, written with my wife, that we can read to our son. Sounds like a wise choice to me.

Here are some sketches I did to try settle on a look for the Tortoise.



A new day

It’s a new day. Yet another amazingly motivating video by Mr. Jake Parker. Put some things into perspective for me.  Going to start tackling things differently from here on out.  Here is a sketch from one of my many projects. Watch the video and stay tuned for an announcement in the next few days as I try and live up to his example.


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