Thumbnail sketches are rough, quick, and freehand drawings drawn in smaller sizes to convey or check a visual idea. These little sketches save a lot of your time and improve your sketches to a great extent. It gives you multiple options on the composition and layout and helps you decide on the best one.
Drawing thumbnail sketches is a fun process, do not overthink it, and there are no rules and boundaries.
You do not need to use the seven elements of arts or the eight principles of arts when creating thumbnail sketches.
Having said that, if you take it as a part of your drawing process, it can improve your art skills tremendously.
It helps you have a structured plan in your creative process, and it gives you the choice and options to select the best thumbnail for further development.
It also helps you decide, change, or rearrange your subjects or objects in your composition before going ahead in your artwork.
All these pre-planning exercises help you to improve your drawing skill.
What are thumbnail sketches?
Thumbnails sketches are quick drawings of ideas in a miniature form, drawn roughly without any corrections to foresee the final drawing.
The key points to be seen here are
- Quick Drawing – You need not take too much of time and does not require any precision when drawing. It is usually done quickly.
- Miniature Form – There is no recommended guidelines for thumbnail drawing size. They are drawn less than a credit card size.
- Rough drawing – These are rough drawings, sometimes lines are over drawn. The aim here is to visually understand where the subjects or objects will be placed and is it appealing.
- Correction not required – When doing thumbnail sketches, correction is not required unless it is for any submission. You need not use an eraser and can over draw lines.
- Foresight into the final drawing – These sketches give you an idea of how the outcome of the drawing which can help you in decide if you can proceed or not.
What are the art materials to be used for Thumbnail sketching?
Any inexpensive art materials will do. It would be best to have paper, a pencil or pen, and sometimes colored pencils and watercolors for creating thumbnails.
You can use any one side used paper, scrap paper, or newsprint paper for thumbnail sketching. You may be doing several thumbnails, but which will not be preserved, and you will use the final drawing only and discard the rest.
You may use a mechanical pencil or H or BH pencil along with 4B and 6B for creating values.
Where you need an idea of color composition, you may also use color pencils or watercolors.
If you are making professional thumbnails with commercial intent for storyboarding and need to show to it for approvals, then I would recommend using ordinary paper.
Can I use colors for thumbnail sketches?
You could, of course, add colors too to your sketches.
See, the goal of this thumbnail sketch is to confirm whether your result is going to be great visually.
If you want to validate your color composition and the diverse colors you intend to use in your drawing, you can check that on your thumbnail sketches.
This process will act as a precursor to your final drawing.
You can use color pencils or watercolor as a medium to do this.
It needs to be rough and does not need to be elaborate. You can create multiple compositions and select the one which you want to use.
What is the size of the thumbnail sketch?
There is no mandatory or standard size for a thumbnail sketch.
Thumbnail sketches are smaller in size and should be able to fit the idea inside.
The recommended size can be about 8.5 centimeters (about the length of the long edge of a credit card) in width to 5.5 centimeters (nearly half the length of the long edge of a credit card) (almost half the height of a credit card). These dimensions are just a recommendatory size.
Even though this is a rough drawing, it is better to have them in the same size, either in a matrix or one below the other.
If you are drawing with commercial intent, it is better to draw the border of thumbnails, and the choice of printed thumbnail boxes is even better.
How long will it take to draw thumbnail sketches?
A thumbnail sketch is a quick and simple drawing to highlight the main content inside the frame.
The time spent by an artist creating thumbnails usually depends on the type on which he is working.
If the artist creates a thumbnail in a storyboard for a motion picture, it may take more time.
He must visually process the situation, the subjects, and angles and decide where to put what in every thumbnail. He may even have multiple thumbnails for the same scene.
If it is for creating an artwork, it can comparatively take lesser time. Say between 30 seconds to 10 minutes. Again, this is from my perspective. It all depends on the skill level and intent of the artists.
If an artist wants to color his thumbnail after sketching, it will take more time.
Who creates thumbnail sketches?
Professional artists mostly use thumbnail sketches. There are no hard-and-fast rules that amateur artists should not use.
It is advisable to use it in every visual art creation, as it saves plenty of time before doing the final drawing.
Artists use thumbnail sketching for the following reasons: –
- Storyboard – In planning for a motion picture, animation series etc., this thumbnail briefly helps to visually communicate how to pictures inside the frame is going to be.
- Character Designing – These drawing will also help in presenting different characters, their specialty, what they are wearing, their mannerism etc. in a simple and crisp form.
- Participating in Contests – I use to do thumbnail sketches when participating in contests. There will be a time limit and you will be given a topic. I quickly draw few sketches in miniature size and decide with which one should I proceed.
What should be included when creating a Thumbnail drawing?
The anatomy of a Thumbnail sketch will include the following: –
- Orientation – The thumbnail can be done either in portrait mode or landscape mode.
- Border – It can have a border. The border defines the boundaries or the frame inside which the drawing or painting is made.
- Subjects or Objects – The drawing should have only the main subjects if two people are talking only those two subjects to be present.
- Rough Sketch – Whatever you are drawing, it is enough if it is rough sketch, also, it is not necessary to use an eraser too.
- Background – It is not mandatory, but a brief idea of the background can also be made to give an idea of the environment.
- Space for Notes – If it is a story board, then a place for dialogue or notes can be kept on the right side of the thumbnail sketch.
- Title and serial number – If there are multiple thumbnails of the same sketch then it is advised to write a title and have serial number which can help for future reference.
What is the primary purpose of a thumbnail sketch?
Thumbnail Sketches are Planning tool
A mind is a cluttered place. It is always best to put everything on paper so it will look clear. The same goes for artwork too. An artist can draw on paper as a thumbnail what he has in his mind. The thumbnail can be corrected quickly and decided before drawing on canvas if the artist needs to change.
Communicates the idea
Art is visual communication, and explaining it in words makes no sense. It is easy to draw a thumbnail and show it to the desired person before going ahead, and it will communicate what the artist intends to do and give an idea of how the drawing or painting will finally be.
It gives Option to Select best
You can create multiple artwork compositions before selecting the best one. It gives you options to choose the best and weed out others. It will not take time, and you can do it quickly. It will also offer multiple visual angles before selecting the best one.
Thumbnail drawing is not a skill, and it is part of your drawing process or a tool in your drawing. Do not overthink about it, and let it flow freely out of you.
If you get some great idea or have seen any good picture and do not have a camera readily available with you, you should quickly thumbnail it and make it a habit.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, creating a thumbnail is a fun process. Enjoy it when you do it.
Make sure this becomes a habit and part of your art process.