Might we ever have a class on JUST doing thumbnails?



  • I made one of these, and I try to do thumbnails as much as possible. In fact, even when I am working on my final image, and walk far away, or shrink it down to thumbnail size to make sure everything is working the way I want. If you want, you can save this and make copies, and just scribble thumbnails while watching tv, or pretending to be listening someone talk 😉

    0_1500095105694_1C546C44-5EFA-44AC-B4B0-CAFC6293220E-379-0000004E7078718F.png

    My method for drawing thumbnails is to create balance, but not to create detail. It is about seeing the weight, and shape of the image, and then once you end up liking one, you draw it a bit bigger, and see how it works out. Here is an example of what I do (i don't do this across many thumbnails, but just did this as an example)

    0_1500095327371_FD300E2C-D8F8-4675-A8D6-2089E30AE4AA-379-00000051D14B3577.png

    As you can see, i try diagonal lines that cross, with round shapes coming in a different angles. I might try overlapping shapes, which is a very important aspect of design I have come to find out. So, from here I would decide that I like the image enough to see it a bit more drawn out, and I would start to draw a little more of a detailed drawing of it. If it is looking good, then I take it to finish, and then do the rendering.

    Another tip is to flip through Will Terry's website, Lee White's and Jake Parker's, and make thumbnails of their images. See how they put their horizons, and how the angle the ground a character is walking on. I usually copy thumbnails for a warmup, and by the time I have done one sheet of them, my next sheet looks pretty interesting. Hope this helps.



  • Here is another example of a recent piece I just finished.

    I just scribble lines, and cross lines, and put circles, and long shapes and short shapes etc. sometimes I will make a value study on the thunbnail to see what I think. For this one I liked the 5th one from the right on the top of the cowboy with the tall hat.
    0_1500096055648_07F46A88-D94B-46D8-ADDA-9978FA2EEF8E-379-000000565D83D050.png

    Then I enhance it make it into a drawing, which I will then move things around a bit to make it fit to what I want.
    0_1500096178940_IMG_3085.JPG

    Then I do a value study of the image after I like what I see
    0_1500096230802_96805DD4-C38C-4BDA-B859-C84D9E703251-379-00000056D3056032.png

    And then the fun part..
    0_1500096263855_756BADEE-B13A-4603-9AD2-D993183AC722-379-0000005700045F2E.png

    This is how I do every single image. It really makes sure everything is balanced correctly. It all starts with basic shapes, and proper weight balance. Just have fun with thumbnails, and do a bunch of them. Don't spend a ton of time on them, and remind yourself that they are not suppose to look incredible, just suppose to give you a feeling as to if you are headed in the right direction. Hope this helps.



  • @marsha-kay-ottum-owen I think the story is really important to consider for developing thumbnails for picture books. You have to consider which pictures will be the double spreads, the spots etc... page layout with the words, how that will work throughout the book. Lynne Chapman has some tips here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5DQXg86luA.
    I think the thing I've been trying to do more and more is not to get too attached to my initial ideas- just make quick sketches and keep developing things, it's not a fast process, I think the early stages need a lot of consideration and patience.



  • I second the recommendation for the Creative Illustration 1 course! If you really want to understand how to generate, refine, and execute ideas, that's the class for you!

    For me, I think of thumbnails as "zoomed out" images. Like looking at a shelf full of books. First you find one (of many) that stand out, and then you pull it off. After looking at the cover more closely, you actually open it up. If you don't like it, you have all of the other options ready to look at.

    Basically, thumbnails are your library of ideas based on a concept or theme. I don't know if that helps, but that's how I look at it XD



  • Here's a progression of one of my pieces from thumbnails. It's not the best example because I didn't explore a ton of angles, but you can see how messy they start out and to anyone else, they probably can't tell what's going on at first.

    0_1500136147800_Pumpking-Superman-Thumbnails.jpg

    0_1500136176613_pumpkin-superman-line-thumbnails.jpg

    0_1500136237805_Untitled-2.jpg

    0_1500136549916_6-pumpkin.jpg

    0_1500136533982_5-pumpkin.jpg

    0_1500136529055_3-pumpkin.jpg

    0_1500136601505_Pumkin-Final-.jpg


  • Pro SVS OG

    @tessw and @Eric-Castleman I always love seeing progression pieces from thumbnails to finish.
    Great work! Thanks for sharing!

    And ditto on a class dedicated to thumbnails!


  • SVS OG

    @tessw Great advice. I was thinking that if I knew perspective better it would help. Lee White suggested I take the light and shadow class. I never saw the videos on the creative composition class! I have a bunch of workbooks I'm trying to finish and that is one of them. I'm actually on the 25 thing assignment and it's a little tough to get going. I'm going to look for the videos you were talking about. I think that might be very helpful! Thanks!

    Let's set a date for a thumbnail challenge! We could start on a Monday and then reveal the next Monday. I'm going to be gone from this Tuesday until the 25th so maybe the week after that? Or after peoples kids get settled in school as that seems to be a challenge for many right now 🙂 We could start by reviewing the creative composition videos.......


  • SVS OG

    @eric-castleman Thanks! Great ideas for thumbnailing! I actually did make it through some rough thumbnails last night but ...I still have a lot to learn actually on just drawing, perspective, lighting, etc. Deep breaths and move forward. Really appreciate your input and encouragement, Eric.



  • Perhaps you are putting too much pressure on yourself in the early stages of your book. The first thumbnails only need to be rough and they are for planning the overall structure and flow of the picture book. I don't think you should be worrying too much about perspective at this stage although it is certainly good to work on the skills with that for later on if that is how you want the book to look. It's more about design and composition. I hope this is OK to mention, but I see lots of picture books which don't seem to use perspective very much and they are still very effective at telling a story in an entertaining way for Children.


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Hi Marsha, It seems you are struggling with a lot of the basic stuff covered in early illustration training. I would recommend taking a real class in illustration. Either a brick and mortar school like a local university, or the Illustration 1 class at svs which david Hohn and I teach. We cover a lot of these things and can clear up most of the problems you are having in your early development process for projects/books, etc.


  • SVS OG

    @christine-garner Thank you.


  • SVS OG

    @lee-white Thanks. I am enrolled in a couple of classes this fall-2D Design and a watercolor class-not necessarily ilustration foundations but, the 2D design might be helpful to me, I think. I looked at the Illustration 1 class but it looks like it has already started on July 11th to Sept 5th? I will be gone quite a bit in July and August so it would be hard to take it at that time. Will it be offered again? If so, when? Thanks. Also, is it mainly coming up with ideas for images ?


  • SVS OG

    Here are some thumbnails I did. Think I'm getting it?

    0_1500254674960_granny thumbnails.jpg


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @marsha-kay-ottum-owen Thumbnails are basically a step to try a bunch of stuff out. If you are able to do that, then you are getting it.The big step is doing a lot of variations on a single image. If you just go with what you did for the first thumbnail, then more are needed.



  • Yes definitely on the right track 🙂
    I found a SCWIBI article on this subject that I think is relevant to your topic and might help you (I thought I should brush upon this stuff as well because I'm working on a personal project which could be a book but I'm still in very early stages)

    http://www.wordsandpics.org/2013/08/picture-book-basics-sketches-and-layout.html
    I found this article through this blog post: http://thebigbadbook.com/thumbnails-and-storyboards/

    Here's another tip: I found out that sometimes the thumb-nailing stage is called "picture book story-boarding" so you might find more tips looking for that word or variations of it in Google.


  • Pro SVS OG

    @christine-garner Great links! I put a lot of notes in the margins of my storyboards, too! 😃


  • SVS OG

    @christine-garner Thanks! I will check that out!


  • SVS OG

    @lee-white Right! And, at least there is something to start with! 🙂



  • @lee-white scheduling has been a problem for me for both offerings to date as well--will this class be available to subscribers after it ends?


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @bichonbistro hate to say that it won't be available to general subscriptions. It is a class that totally relies on the back and forth between the student and instructor. It's not really a "demo" type of class like a lot of the videos are


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