Keeping My Focus on a Multiple Piece Project

  • Like many others here, inspired by @Lee-White's process and thumbnails videos, I'm trying to be better with my own process.

    I've gotten better since I started hanging around here in 2017. Before that I didn't really understand how to do thumbnails and I'd get so discouraged with how crappy my initial sketches looked. Now I utilize some writing prompts, do a few thumbnails, and more preliminary work. I have a lot more control than I use to, but I feel like I still waste a ton of time, I'm disorganized, and unfocused.

    I'm currently working on an art trade project with someone. For my side I'm exploring multiple pieces (up to 6) surrounding a story-line of a kid encountering a ghost/ghosts in an abandoned mansion. It's supposed to be targeted toward middle grade kids. I've done work on it already, but I haven't quite reigned myself in process wise, and find myself getting off track. I'm starting this thread for accountability and try to keep myself on the rails.

    I'll post my process so far in the next post. Feedback or observations along the way are always welcome.

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @TessaW looking forward to following along here!

  • For the art trade, my partner already had a project to work on, but I didn't. We came up with a list of keywords I was interested in, and we settled on doing a piece around something spooky. I did some preliminary work along those lines, first starting with jotting down some words, looking at reference and inspiration, sketching ideas and sketching, to familiar myself with Edwardian/Victorian architecture.

    1 Initial Sketching.png

    Then I threw out a bunch of ideas based on my initial sketching/ research phase:



    Then I did more idea exploration when we narrowed the piece being centered around a ghost and a library in an abandoned mansion.

    1 Library Thumbnails 1.png

    1 Library Thumbnails 2.png

    After this round of thumbnails, we decided to make this a multiple piece project, instead of it just being one piece like we originally planned.

    Now I just have a very loose story line of a kid exploring an abandoned mansion and encountering a ghost or ghosts. We've discussed the idea that I don't necessarily need to get a detailed story-line down.
    I felt the need to make a piece centered around who this kid is and what he's doing, but I'm not sure if I'll end up including it or not. I did not do 50 thumbnails for this piece. I just did a few sketches. I'd say I'm 75% done with it, and I've started to do thumbnails for another piece in the project, but I'm thinking I need to take a step back and plan how the pieces will all be working together visually and how the pacing will work. I also have to figure out just exactly what a middle grade style is, and if it's even valuable to have them all in color, or if they should be in black and white.

    1 WIP.png

    1 Color Samples.png

    Trying to make 50 thumbnails for the next piece:

    2 thumbs.png

  • SVS OG

    I agree with @Chip-Valecek This looks fantastic. I love seeing your process @TessaW

  • @TessaW same here Tessa I’m looking forward to more on this thread too. It’s really interesting seeing your process in so much depth.
    I used to have confidence issues with thumbnails. I didn’t really understand how widely they are used in developing ideas. You might find Yuko Shimizu interesting, she posts her thumbnails and development very often, right alongside her finished pieces on Instagram. I’ve found looking at her work (as well as Lee’s processes - and his work too) really helpful.

  • @peteolczyk Thanks for the encouragment. 🙂 And thanks for the recommending Yuko Shimizu. I'll check her out. Thumbnails seem to be a problem for a lot of people.

  • Speaking of thumbnails. . . I did some very rough thumbnails to try to get a feel for a basic story line. I'm trying to get down a handful of thumbnails for a few key moments- see how they relate and contrast- and then go back to thumbnailing those moments again- repeat as needed. 🤷🏽♀ I'm trying not to be paralyzed with feelings of inadequacy.

    1 Storyboard.png

    1 Reading.png

    1 Intruder.png

  • @Judy-Elizabeth-Wilson and @Chip-Valecek Thanks for your support!

  • Whew, so I've been working on more thumbnails since my last post. I selected some scenes that I feel were the most important to the story-line, to see if I could leave out the rest. I did about 25 thumbnails each for 4 scenes. I was making them pretty detailed, but simplified quite a bit on the thumbnails for the last scene. I think that's the better way to go, but I appreciate the research it took to get those more detailed scenes down, and I feel I at least learned something from it.

    25 thumbs 1.png

    25 thumbs 2.png

    Now I'm going to try to narrow things down to my fav 3 for each batch, see how they work together, and perhaps do additional thumbnails to refine the compositions.

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @TessaW my head hurts from all the thumb nails you are doing LOL great work!

  • @TessaW , Great work on the thumbnails. I am going to look at yours and learn from you. I am new and terrible at thumbnails. Didn't know what thumbnails were until this year!!

  • @TessaW wow, it is so helpful to see these! Great job 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  • @Chip-Valecek Welp, my head hurts too! 🤪 It's a lot of thumbnails, but when I posted them here I kind of thought "that's all I could manage to do for the past 7 days?" I'm making progress and learning, so I should just be kind to myself. 😇

    @RG-Spaulding Thank you! I'm trying to figure it out too. It doesn't feel quite natural to me yet. I've known about thumbnails for a long time, but didn't really do them until I came here. I find that having a pinterest board filled with art and photography I like, composition wise, helps a lot. I use the structure of the perspective and the placement of objects from the pinterest board art to help structure my own scenes. It helps with the thumbnails as well as serves as perspective and scene practice.


    1 q.png

  • @BichonBistro Thank you! I'm trying! 😵

  • @TessaW Wow! you've done a lot of work here! I love the boy in the tent, excited to see more!

  • I had to catch up on housework, so I didn't accomplish much the last couple of days, but I eliminated down my options. First I chose around 10 favs, see how they worked together, and than narrowed them down to 3 for each batch. In some cases I might still use elements from rejected thumbnails. It was interesting to see that for 3 scenes, a lot of the top 3s were chosen from thumbnails done earlier in the process for each batch, but for the last scene my top 3 were all chosen from thumbnail 12 or after.

    Thumnb Elimination 1.png

    I guess more thumbnailing is ahead. . .

  • @TessaW That is cool to see a side by side of Pinterest images and your thumbnails. Thanks for the tip.

  • @KaraDaniel Thank you!

    It's such a busy time of the year, so I haven't made much progress, but I did a more detailed sketch on the first piece to see if it can help inform the others going forward. I'm still not sure about the character design. That may be something I have to do separate. I may have to change the silhouette on the boy with the backpack. Not sure.


  • @TessaW I am amazed at your artwork. Beautiful linework and expression on the kid's face. Of the last two sketches though, I can't tell the difference. The difference is very subtle for my (beginner) artistic eyes.

  • @RG-Spaulding Thanks for the kind words! It's actually the same image, though one is cropped slightly. It probably wasn't worth showing both, as they are pretty much the same, but I'm toying with how cropped in I want it. I'll change them so they are side by side.

    Intruder Values.png

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