No one does that…Or do they? One thing graphic designers don’t do enough of is thumbnails. We should take industrial designers as a model and do more thumbnails. This is where true ideas and solid concepts come from. So what do you need to get started? Lets find out…
Industry standard Supplies
If you’re a poor collage student, which I know there is a lot out there, then you’re not willing to spend $200 on crazy amounts of markers in all colors. So what’s a poor student to do? If you can afford them, they are definitely worth it, but there are also alternatives. let’s look at the options.
*Buy only what you need
Really all you need about 3-5 monochrome ones. You really don’t need the entire rainbow set. In fact I stay away from using color at all in initial concepts because I might focus on color schemes more than I might an idea. If you’re really tight on money here is the minimum you want to get:
Prismacolor Premier 10% cool grey: I like cool grey because it is a little more pleasing of a color, but they do also have warm. what this one does is allows you to make a wire frame confidently. This is similar to using a really light pencil stroke.
Prismacolor Premier 50% cool grey: this will be for your mid-tones. It works similarly to building up your tones in traditional drawing.
Prismacolor Premier 70% cool grey: this will be usually the last tone. Sometimes you can add black however I prefer to stay away from pure black unless its absolutely essential to the design. As far as eye flow goes, your eye usually goes to darker areas in a composition, so unless its well thought through try to only go up to 70%
Prismacolor Premier black: I’ll usually use this one tastefully, or in very well planed areas of the concept.
you can get these markers at local art stores or online.
PROS: Standard Marker set and can be found almost anywhere
CONS: Can get pricey, non-refillable.
I used to be very resistant to buying this paper because it’s expensive. Why get it when you can get 10x the amount of regular sketch paper? However, now I see why it’s very important in any designers arsenal. Maker paper is formulated to react to markers in a very precise way that you wont get with any other paper. One huge bonus is that it doesn’t bleed. If you’ve ever tried to draw on normal paper with marker, you will clearly see it’s a disaster.
you can get this paper at most local art stores or online.
- Square body profile is roll resistant on working surfaces.
- Solid polypropylene body is both smooth and comfortable, for a perfect, controllable grip.
- Durable polyester nibs are easily interchangeable and available in nine different weights and styles.
- COPIC Markers come in 214 colors and are refillable with Various Inks.
- Electronic production guarantees consistency of both color and output.
- Precise and positive colored capping system provides for instant color selection.
- Body inscriptions and symbols are wear resistant and easily cleaned with COPIC cleaner
CONS: they are harder to find since they aren’t as mainstream. They are a bit more expensive (about 70 cents more than Prismacolor).
Pantone Tria markers
PROS: having a total of 300 colors that correspond to PMS (Pantone color matching system). About same price as Prismacolor. 3 Tip shapes: chisel, fine, brush.
CONS: Not as well known, making them harder to find.
usually per project you want to do 50-100 thumbnails. In fact, I wouldn’t suggest ever doing under 50. If you want your concept to be solid, it really does require you to lay down this many.
A way to start is referencing your research/mind maps/streams of consciousness. there are some things you need to consider before even beginning your sketches however:
What is your objective?
how do you want your target market to react or think? make it short and sweet. Einstein would say “Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Who is your target audience?
What kind of things does target audience like to do?
Can you interact with what you are designing for?
If it’s a product, use it. If its a place, visit it. etc.
What are some unique things about this product?
What makes this product successful or unsuccessful?
Now as far as the design goes, here are some things to consider:
- what angle do you want it coming from?
- how can I clearly convey the ideas I have?
- should it be photography, illustrative, typographic, none of them, all of them?
Here is how I usually structure my thumbnails:
I will do 50-100 thumbnails. Make them quick, just get the ideas out. Some should only take a few seconds. Put them on paper, even if you think they are silly. Sometimes great ideas are inspired by some of the worst.
Also make sure you make space for them, don’t try to cram too many on one page, and usually it helps me to keep them organized via a grid.
Once I finish the 50, I then pick the few I like the most and develop them more. The larger ones still aren’t the final direction, they just give me a direction.
Pick a few I like, and develop them more and larger. Usually each with its own page. Again these are fast drawings nothing fancy, just getting more specific and larger. Don’t attempt a Caravaggio:
I then get feedback from others and see what they think. With that feedback I either develop the ones I like the most or am persuaded that ones I liked, might not be as strong as I had thought. The latter happens quite often, some of what you think are your best designs are sometimes the worst.
When I’m done with all the nitty-gritty I throw a few more sketches together, then put a final product together and Voila! A finished product: