There’s one trick I learned in college many years ago, that I still stand by today… the importance of the thumbnail sketch. It’s actually a lot like shorthand for graphic designers!
In fact, I’ll often encourage my students to begin their brainstorming process with small quick drawings done in either pen or pencil. The purpose is quite simple – it allows the designer to test out quick ideas by blocking in areas of desired text, images and even color. These are the building blocks, or elements, that make up a page design. It’s really not important that anyone else understand these drawings, as no one is likely to see them, however they help to develop the idea and save the designer a lot of time and frustration.
I must admit that sometimes I get lazy and skip the thumbnail step and I jump right into my designs on the computer, but I always, and I mean always, pay for it later in dissatisfaction and revisions. I find that I spend more time experimenting and revising my designs on my Mac, leaving me frustrated and stressed, instead of focused and enthusiastic and clear about my design goal.
Without a sketch to follow, I find myself unhappy with my designs… sometimes the focal point is in the wrong place or the design overall feels unbalanced and disjointed. Thumbnails help to eliminate this because I know where I’m heading before I even begin.
Overall, the thumbnail sketch is a vital part of the design process and should never be ignored. It’s simple and fast, and it helps get you moving in the right direction. A little bit of time and effort will help to bring you strong designs and compositions that you will feel good about later! Besides, it worked for daVinci, so why not for me?