Thumbnails

Thumbnails are a wonderful way to get your creative energies charged up. This is the time to work out your picture —now, before you start the finished drawing. Your key thought should be to simplify. Remember, you are only looking for ideas. Don't get involved with details at this stage, and keep your thumbnails small — postcard-sized or smaller. Build your composition by including interesting shapes, determining your values, and deciding on your center of interest. Do you want a low horizon or a high horizon? That tree looks like it is growing out of the roof of the house: Move it. You can move, eliminate or add whatever elements will help make your picture. This is the purpose of thumbnails, getting your ideas down on paper where you can see them. You will find that one idea will lead to another and before you realize it, you will have a sheet full of ideas. Pick out what you feel is your best thumbnail, or combine the best ideas from a few sketches.

Arrange all your ideas into one thumbnail, which will become your working sketch. You may want to enlarge it to help you see things more clearly. Go right ahead—working out all the problems now will make your final drawing easier and more fun to do. Save your thumbnails: They can become an excellent reference file, and some of the beauty you have captured in these quick little sketches will inspire you to create other drawings.

Then I tried a vertical format and added the weeds and cattails, which led me to try another design.

Finally, I felt I had successfully put the right elements together to make an interesting composition.

I started with a horizontal format showing a small shoreline on the left and a large tree line across the lake. The composition looked a little unbalanced, so I added the overhead branch. Not too bad, but the left side bothered me: Something was missing.

Cartoon Pictures Cattails

Then I tried a vertical format and added the weeds and cattails, which led me to try another design.

Finally, I felt I had successfully put the right elements together to make an interesting composition.

I decided to include more shoreline, and the trees hanging over the water created interesting reflections. I raised the horizon line and brought the trees across the lake in closer. Notice how quickly your sketch can change by moving your elements around.

Sketch Moving Water

Lakeside, 7W x 7", graphite pencil on Strathmore Alexis.

Here is the finished drawing composed from the thumbnails on the previous page. By changing to a slightly vertical format, I was able to include more of the shoreline with a greater variety of tree shapes. The reflections and darks in the water cre^ ated interesting patterns of design. The trees in the background are there to carry your eye back to the left.

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