Thumbnail Sketch

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Product description Borden And Riley #35C Sun-Glo Thumbnail Sketch Paper, 8 lb., 12' x 50 Yards Per Roll, White, weighs 8 lb. And is ideal sketch paper for engineers, architects, etc. It can be used with pens, pencils, or markers and is fortified to withstand considerable handling. Transparent with 4 sheet overlays. Thumbnail drawings are a terrific shortcut to rapidly improving your drawings skills and confidence. What is considered thumbnail size? Anything that is one to two inches square is considered a thumbnail. You decide what size squares to construct on your sheet of paper.

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Thumbnail drawings are a terrific shortcut to rapidly improving your drawings skills and confidence.

What is considered thumbnail size?
Anything that is one to two inches square is considered a thumbnail. You decide what size squares to construct on your sheet of paper.

It only takes a minute or two to create an image and any practice is good practice when you are learning to draw. I try to do a thumbnail sketch most nights.

I don't know what it is but I gain a lot of confidence when I draw within such a confined space. Normally, I shy away from drawing animals but this cat sketch was created with the side of a pencil and it appeared effortlessly, or so it seemed.


I don't draw from life because it would take too much time to set up the lighting, arrangement and all the fiddling that is generally needed. That would be a deterrent and I would probably make an excuse to avoid it.

On the other hand, if I have some reference material all ready to go, it only takes a couple of minutes to do a thumbnail drawing and I'm finished.

So, gather together some books and even use junk mail to keep next to your sketchpad so that everything is handy. Whenever I see something I really want to draw, I place it in the pile because items of interest are an incentive to start the project as soon as possible. For anything that's in a book, I use a bookmark or sticky post it notes.

Let Your Subjects Find You

Avoid drawing things that don't appeal to you. Drawing is all about pleasure - it is what you want to do.

You know your subject has found you when:

  • you think 'I can draw that.'
  • you look at something and you immediately start drawing it in your mind.
  • you aspire to drawing something like that. Stop aspiring, have a go and surprise yourself. Even if it doesn't turn out to the quality you would like, you have pushed another boundary and improved existing skills.

One of the benefits of being an artist is that you can omit certain things from a picture and, vice versa, you can also include things that aren't really there. You are in control.

These thumbnail drawings are the perfect thing to help you with your decision making!

Oh, and don't forget to make a note of where you copied the image from and the date. You can put that information on an adjoining page or on the back but be careful doing that, the impressions from your writing can ruin your work on the reverse side.

Show No Fear And Show 'Em Off

Thumbnail Sketch Example

Do you recognize this bridge drawing from my first Drawing Critique? Well, here it is again, only this time it's in miniature.

I get a lot of comments like 'How did you fit that into that little square?' Really, I can't answer the question because I don't know, somehow it happens miraculously. I clear my mind and let my pencil lead the way.

Thumbnail Sketch Meaning

All you need to do is first lightly sketch your image into the square to make sure it all fits into that space. This initial light sketch will save you a lot of time.

Thumbnail Sketch Theatre

Thumbnail Sketches — Shorthand Drawing for Artists

Thumbnail Sketches are Shorthand Notes for Artists:
Thumbnail sketches are drawing quick, abbreviated drawings. Usually, they are done very rapidly and with no corrections - you can use any medium, though pen or pencil is the most common. Thumbnails sketches are usually very small, often only an inch or two high.

Thumbnails are Memory Aids and Planning Tools:
Thumbnail sketches can serve as a memory aid to help you remember important features of a subject, when making notes for a painting or drawing. They are also useful when visiting a gallery, to help you remember important pieces. Ofen artists use thumbnail sketches to plan pictures. You can quickly experiment with format and composition, placing just the major features - such as the horizon and any large objects, and indicating movement and balance.

How to Draw a Thumbnail Sketch:
Imagine your subject or picture stripped of all details, through squinted eyes, or in poor light. All you see are big rough shapes and some lines. Thats all you need for a thumbnail. First, sketch a rough box, smaller but in the same proportions as the finished picture might be. Then sketch in the horizon line, hills, or any major verticals or horizontals. The outline any key shapes, and quickly hatch in any strong dark areas. There are no right or wrong ways - that's my approach, and it might work for you.

What is the value of thumbnails?
A quote from a convert!

'In this assignment I really felt the good use of doing thumbnails. The whole process of sketching, first by hand and then digitally, really paid off. The final design wasn't in my mind at all when I started. But after making all of those sketches, all of the sudden it was just there.' MA

Thumbnails can be Colored:
Thumbnail sketches are a great way to plan color schemes. Use textas, colored pencil or watercolor to put in major areas of color in your picture. Small but intense colors can also be noted, as these can attract the eye, but don't get bogged down with detail.

What Are Thumbnail Sketches Used For

Making Notes and Working Drawings:
Once you've done your thumbnail sketch, you might want to make some notes alongside it. If at a gallery, you can record the artist's name and the title, along with your thoughts about the painting. If sketching outdoors, you might record notes about the position of the sun, the particular colors, or make additional sketches to show small details. If you are planning a painting, you might want to do a working drawing. A working drawing is usually fairly large, sometimes as big as the finished piece, and carefully composed. The subject is sketched in, and potential problem areas might be done in more detail. This is where you can fine-tune your drawing before embarking on the finished piece.