Thumbnail Sketches / Preparation for Digital Painting

What are Thumbnail Sketches?

Thumbnail sketches are a term used to describe a small low detail drawing, usually on paper, allowing the artists to trial and explore multiple ideas quickly.  These are normally sketched as part of a group, usually displaying a scene from various angles and compositions.

Often described as the “artists shorthand”, thumbnail sketches allow them to visualise the final painting / product by providing the artist a template to follow.

Examples of Thumbnail Sketches


Environment Inspiration

We have been tasked with creating a digital painting containing perspective within Adobe Photoshop of an environment of our choice.  First, we were asked to research into our chosen environments and compile references images as inspiration.


My girlfriend and I have recently been looking into holiday ideas for the upcoming summer, one of these ideas being Mykonos, Greece.  This greek island is known for its beautiful setting and Cycladic architecture of traditional and cubic houses with flat roofs offset with brightly coloured wooden coloured doors, windows, murals and fittings.


One particular website describes Mykonos as:

“The main town of Mykonos consists of huge white rocks, wooden colourful balconies hanging over the labyrinth streets and different shapes.”

This particular description was influential in choosing this environment, particularly the “labyrinth like”streets which had great potential when thinking about perspective drawings.  Mykonos is also known as “the island of the winds”, therefore is also known for its iconic windmills which I want to incorporate as a point of interest within my environment


I feel that the white-washed walls will provide an nice back-drop to help emphasise the colours upon them when I come to digitally colouring the scene.


My Thumbnail Sketches

Next, we were asked to create several thumbnail sketches using the earlier collected images as inspiration.

In the my sketches, I wanted to concentrate on the simple Greek architecture and tried to incorporate the iconic windmills.  I particularly like the perspective where the eye level is low, looking up towards the windmill giving  a sense of importance.  The low viewpoint perspective also creates the illusion that you are very small, therefore emphasises the height of the windmill creating a sense of drama and scale.


Final Sketch

Whilst I liked the above sketch, I wanted to incorporate more of the Greek architecture into the scene.  I also wanted to maintain the low view-point perspective to give a sense of importance to the windmill and I feel the addition of the staircase further aids this.


Once imported into Photoshop, I intend to increase height to the canvas to avoid cutting off the windmill sails and to allow more space for the sky, as this will potentially be the most colourful part of the scene.  I want to make to make the sky the main source of colour in the scene and as the bulk of the architecture is white, I want this colour to reflect upon this.

In the future, I intend to further research into techniques when drawing using perspective, whether it be one-point, two-point or three-point to help improve and further add the illusion of depth in my drawings.





One thought on “Thumbnail Sketches / Preparation for Digital Painting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s