finding the inspiration: thumbnailing…


16/03/2011 by Sarah Ritchie

finding the inspiration thumbnailing Sarah Ritchie

Thumbnailing example for Canvas #1: The Delicate Heart

If there is one thing that is almost guaranteed to make my graphic design students groan, it is when I ask them to prepare thumbnail sketches for a design project. Most of them would rather jump straight onto the Mac and start the “glamourous” side of the process than have to “think” first. So sad, never mind. One day they will grow to love it!

Thumbnails are small, rough sketches which provide the designer/artist/planner a platform to try out a number of different ideas – quickly and easily – before honing in on the best one(s) to carry through to the layout stage.

Shapes and picture boxes are usually indicated by solid shapes. Text might be shown as a series of lines, or boxes, or zig-zaggy scribbles. This is a time when we forget about the details and concentrate on the overall layout and placement/size of all the elements within the composition. There is no right or wrong way, and sometimes the sketches can only be interpreted by the designer themselves. That’s quite OK!

Agreed, it is not a glamourous process, but it is one of the best timesaving tips I could ever give to a designer. It is fairly evident – just from looking at the roughs – whether a layout is viable or not. Sometimes it is difficult, once you have lept onto the computer, to focus on the composition when there are tempting things like fonts, colour and text to distract.

Thumbnailing is also a fantastic brainstorming technique. The action of drawing out the compositions can trigger a chain of ideas and possibilities.

If you were in my class you might be asked to prepare up to 40 thumbnails for one single layout! That means thinking of 40 different ways one layout could possibly be rendered. No wonder my class groans…(but their designs are better for it)!

This post is part of Sarah’s “Finding the Inspiration” series.
Click here for more inspired ideas!


2 thoughts on “finding the inspiration: thumbnailing…

  1. Leona Briggs says:

    What an inspiration you are! Your students are most blessed by having you as their teacher!

  2. Sarah Ritchie says:

    Thank you Leona…that’s very nice of you to say so!

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Finalist, Estuary Art Awards 2011
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© Sarah Ritchie 2014

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