Do you miss drawing? Have you always wanted to try? Today’s How-To offers a way to dip your toes in the creative waters. Have you heard of thumb nail sketches?

Thumbnails are small drawings (thus the moniker thumbnail drawing) that artists generally use when planning out an artwork. It’s a quick and easy way to test and trial different compositions, do a light study, or for general art brainstorming. They are also a great way to build skill and confidence, for the beginner and experienced alike.

“Why are thumbnail sketches so good for the beginning creative?!” (Click to Tweet)

Thumbnail sketches are a great way to incorporate a little creative play into your day without feeling the pressure or worry about your skill level. They are also fast, so you could do a page of thumbnail drawings every day without taking up even 5 minutes of your day!

10 Creative Prompts for Thumbnail Sketching | Artist Strong

This is a great series of colorful thumbnails by Sean McMenemy via Flickr Creative Commons. He used a bit of color to help him lay out compositional ideas. You can see these images are not hugely detailed; they also have a feeling of being drawn quickly.

Thumbnails usually fill the size of a small box or rectangle about 2 inches in height or width. The fact that they are small ensures you don’t waste time by trying to add every detail. This is especially good for you beginners or perfectionists out there: you can’t get lost in the details! You must focus on what you think is most important to the drawing and fit that in. Some people use only ink or pencil, other people like to add hints of color. What you’ll see in all thumbnails is evidence of an artist thinking things out. It’s a kind of visual brainstorm.

“This is for you, creative perfectionist, because you can’t get lost in the details!” (Click to Tweet)

Some artists use thumbnails to storyboard, which is a means of outlining a graphic novel or putting together a film or animation.

A good way to get started or prepare for thumbnail sketching is to get out a sketchbook and draw a whole bunch of boxes (or shape of your choice) around 2 inches square to fill your pages. Then, when you decide to draw, you are ready to put that pencil to paper! Thumbnail sketches are about quantity, not quality.

If you are looking for a fun, no pressure and quick activity to re-engage with your creative play, thumbnail sketching may be it for you!

Today I will share 10 ideas for you to start playing with thumbnail sketching.

10 Creative Prompts for Thumbnail Sketching | Artist Strong

Frank via Flickr also used thumbnails, but as a means to lay out images for a graphic novel. Thumbnails are a great planning and play tool!

10 Creative Prompts for Thumbnail Sketching

(1) Select a plant in your home and try drawing it in as many different ways as you can create. (How many ways can you see the plant? Zoom in, zoom out, detail of leaf, the pot, etc.)

(2) Find a photograph you like. Try to break it up into a bunch of abstract pieces by drawing pieces of the image as individual thumbnail drawings.

(3) Arrange a still life with your dishes and fruits/vegetables in your home.

(4) Sit outside at a park. Draw what you see.

(5) Go to the beach. Draw what you see.

(6) Find as many different patterns in your home as possible. Draw pieces of them.

“10 Creative Prompts for Thumbnail Sketching” (Click to Tweet)

(7) Take your sketchbook with you to any appointments you have. Draw the offices while you wait in them.

(8) Make it a family game! Make one of these activities a rainy day scavenger hunt. Example: have everyone look for the element of art line in and around the objects in your home. Share and talk about your drawings.

(9) Create sketches that help illustrate instructions to your favorite recipe.

(10) Create a storyboard from your thumbnails: try to visually express part of your favorite fairy tale.

I’d love to see your sketches! Share them with me @ArtistStrong on Twitter or via our FB page.

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: What other activities can you think of for people to have a quick kickstart to their creative play? I want to know! Tell me about it in the comments below.

**Please note: Featured image: Drawings by Tobia Toft via Flickr Creative Commons

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