How To Draw Thumbnail Sketches

Why draw thumbnail sketches?

- Thumbnails are a quick way to put down ideas for future paintings. Imagine if you are at a gallery for example and you suddenly get really inspired. Just take out your sketchbook and make a quick thumbnail sketch to save your idea for the future when you need some inspiration.

- When you have an idea for a painting, but you are not quite sure where to start, just make a dozen small thumbnail sketches of your idea. This is a great way to test different compositions. For example, you can test if your painting would look better as a portrait or a landscape.

- Test your values. Where will the light source of your painting be? What will be the focus point of your painting?

- Drawing thumbnail sketches using famous paintings as reference is a fantastic way to fight artist's block. Just take out your favourite art book and start sketching. This is a great way to come up with new ideas for your next painting.


How to draw thumbnail sketches?

- Keep your thumbnail sketches very small. Ideally no more than about two inches wide.

- Focus on shapes. It is not important to draw a lot of detail. Just focus on the main shapes in the painting.

- Focus on values. Where is the light source in the painting? Where are the darkest shadows and where are the highlights?

- Have fun! Don't worry about how the thumbnails look, just do as many as you can. Drawing thumbnails is about practice and experimentation.


Thank you for reading! I often look at artists like Edmund Dulac and John Singer Sargent for inspiration concerning composition and values in paintings. What are your favourite art books or artists for inspiration? Let me know in the comments below!

-Eeva