Is anyone else intimidated by thumbnailing?



  • Kind of a silly question, perhaps! I guess this is similar to the anxiety of a blank canvas, but thumbnailing has been the hardest part of the process for me as of late. When I watch lessons about thumbnailing, people often describe it as being the most laid-back and fun part of the drawing since it's just doodling and coming up with new ideas.

    I often have felt the opposite, whether it be from not having enough ideas, having too many and being unable to choose the best one, realizing that your best thumbnail doesn't work for the finished illustration, or even just being too impatient and REALLY wanting to start working on the illustration! As a result, I feel that my compositions have been uncreative and bland as of late and that I really need to work on building that creative muscle a bit more.

    To be honest, I think the cure is probably just more thumbnailing and getting used to it. I'm just wondering if I'm not alone in this experience!



  • @Kalimostlypaints oh you are NOT alone! It's both the most rewarding and most frustrating part for me. I have been trying to do 50 thumbnails like in Lee White's two videos, the first that describes the 6 step process he uses, with thumbnails as step 2, and the second that goes into how he does the fifty thumbnails. It's a mental challenge and I love/hate it and want to get better at it. It's the main thing I want to practice all throughout 2020, because sometimes I get tired before hitting 50. I want to know what it feels like to sail past 50!

    Those are the two youtube videos that got me taking classes here, btw. They have been so important to me.



  • @carolinedrawing Same, I'm also trying to do that for 2020. Hopefully by the end of the year we'll kick its butt!!! I wish you luck and strength in your journey 😤



  • @Kalimostlypaints thank you! I will need it! I wish the same to you. The trickiest thing about it is that no one but me really knows how thoroughly I went through the process, or whether I just slouched through it. So my goal is to first work to that feeling where I'm spent and don't have anymore ideas, document that number (I number the thumbnails), then do more thumbnails anyway. Hopefully getting to 50 will get easier and easier.



  • @Kalimostlypaints I also hate thumbnailing. It always make me feel uncreative and inpatient. But I also want to start using it more and more. Good luck to us! 😉


  • SVS OG

    Oh yes! The impatience to move on to drawing things out, the difficulty in evaluating my own ideas and thinking through the concept, and the frustration that something I just thumbnailed doesn't work the same way when I start to draw it out--those are all obstacles and take a surprising amount of energy. But I am convinced that it is worth it. I think the key is to just nail it in our heads that we have to budget all that extra energy for any piece. And perhaps, like doing sit-ups, it eventually gets easier!



  • I can certainly relate to what you described. I found thumbnailing both a very very hard thing to do, but also liberating.

    I know the blank paper anxiety. What helps me a bit is to draw on cheap papers, and avoid screens and fancy sketchbooks. Fancy sketchbook is very intimidating for me, and the screen is too distracting.

    It is also hard for me to come up with ideas from scratch. I often have to do a bit of warmup before I can do thumbnails. I would open up Pinterests board with illustrations I pinned, and pick some random images, and try to do quick thumbnails of these. It is like reverse engineering. I also draw random shapes and try to make some kind of composition from them from time to time.

    What I found it liberating is that I do not have to draw well to make thumbnails. I found painting much easier than drawing for me. So working with blobs of different shades of gray in thumbnailing stage is less demanding than make an anatomically correct drawing of a person walking.

    Choosing is always difficult. I actually find it relieving when working for a client/or in a class, that the client/teacher choose 1 among 3 sketches for me. I find to take a break from thumbnailing helps a little. I also find wondering about what the piece supposed to say helps as well.

    I have been practicing this process for about a year now. It does get a bit easier.


  • SVS OG

    @Kalimostlypaints yes and no. Well, it’s a toss up. Sometimes, I have this clear vision and I charge on, making swift and decisive decisions along the way. Sometimes, I doubt myself a lot and I don’t know what to do next. That’s when I ask the forum for their help.



  • @Kalimostlypaints, I too struggle with thumbnailing; however, recently found sticky notes to be very helpful.

    Few examples:
    BFC35A6C-9620-4BCE-B203-39C410EA1539.jpeg



  • @Jeremy-Ross I use posted notes too! You can paste them up to view them. I don't take advantage of this, because I erase as I'm creating one. Otherwise I'm thinking too fast and lose my flow. For me that works better than drawing over again for another thumbnail each time. I get into it! My imagination starts working and before you know it I feel like I've got my idea. I should then probably create more thumbnails though to focus on the values and composition.


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