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August 17, 2022

Iterative Thumbnails

I’m really trying to be better with my time management skills and actually carrying out my ideas. There’s just too much to work on, and too little time. 

The process:

  • Brainstorm an idea
  • Type up the document
  • Make a collage
  • Keep the collage up for reference
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and make a thumbnail value study

It can be whatever comes to mind, no matter how good or bad it looks. All that matters is that you stick with it for those 5 minutes, then you can move on to the next iteration. What worked? What didn’t work? In the next iteration, fix problems that stand out, and exaggerate features that should be more prominent. Good ideas hardly come easily. Just like with a friendship or a new skill, you need to stick around and put in the effort. Timing myself for 5 minutes has helped me stay focused on the task, instead of my usual habit of giving up and hastily moving on. 

There is no limit on the amount of thumbnails that can be done. It’s a game of trial and error. Each iteration can be unique - it’s okay to start over if something’s not working out on a fundamental level. Eventually I’ll stick with an overall composition that I like, and tweak it.

The visual documentation makes me feel more productive than if I just erased each iteration as I am normally wont to do. It’s nice to have a documented journey from draft to final design.  

I like to write about my WIPs to evaluate my progress up to that point. It’s like studying your unfinished painting in between studio sessions. When you don’t have the paintbrush in your hand, you evaluate the artwork differently, as if viewing it from an outsider’s perspective. Things cannot be fixed in this state, making the mistakes stand out more. This provides valuable insight that could have otherwise been easily missed. Plus, it gives me something to look forward to!

Thoughts for future thumbnail sessions
If I’m tweaking the same composition, maybe I could redraw it every time just to get a better feel for the grand overall design. I’m trying to limit everything to distinct forms and values to make it easier to read. 

For my Trigun: Red Shimmer art idea, I did almost 20 thumbnail iterations. Eventually I settled on one that I liked and colored it. Moving forward, here is what I’m hoping to do next:

  • Upsize the image again and redraw the entire sketch with more definition.
  • Recolor the artwork entirely, using the original colored sketch as a guide. That way, it’ll prevent me from overworking the design.
  • I can continue tweaking the design along the way, hopefully without making any unexpected major changes.
  • If I decide to keep thumbnailing, I can do research in between sessions to find images that better portray what I’m trying to capture. In-between inspiration. 

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