8 Reasons Why You Should Thumbnail Sketch

Car Sketches various types

8 Reasons Why You Should Thumbnail Sketch

Thumbnail sketching is used at the earlier stages of design sketching. It is about sketching your ideas quickly and efficiently and then picking the one that stands out for your final design at the end. It is like going to a bakery to buy a cake, you see several different cakes on display, then you pick the one you like! It is great when you have multiple choices. Thumbnail sketching will provide you with those kind of choices in a small matter of time, if used efficiently. Here are 8 reasons why you should thumbnail sketch.

1. You save time.

I remember when i was in college, we used to come up with many ideas as possible in a short period of time. Sketching each idea on a large a4 or a3 sheet of paper was a waste of time and consumed too much energy, and funnily, you may never looked back at that large drawing ever again.

Thumbnail sketching meant to be much more quicker compared to original size drawings, well, mainly due to it’s size. Smaller size means smaller details, smaller strokes, thus meaning time being saved, and we all know how valuable time is, especially before exams or deadlines in design field.

2. You practice at quicker peace.

When you save time, you will have more time to observe and learn various things while sketching. You may practice perspective, line weights and other aspects of sketching at quicker pace. You will obviously make lots of mistake, faster you do them faster you learn.


3. More Choices.

Once you have gathered all your thumbnail sketches on a table, you will have dozens of ideas that’d been generated in a short period of time and you will have more choices to pick from for your final design concept. More choices, more solid decisions.

4. More sketches per page.

More sketches per page means less sketchbooks, less paper, more trees saved!

5. You observe various themes and forms much faster.

When you observe shapes and forms faster (and MORE), quicker they sink into your brain, into your visual library. More you observe and experience forms and shapes, the faster your visual library expands and starts working at faster speed as time goes by (and no…it won’t take you 4 weeks to get to this level, more like 3-4 years of consistent practice and observation).


6. You are less tired due to less arm movement.

Due to small arm movements, you will be less tired physically. Instead of making long and big strokes with your elbow, you will make smaller, shorter strokes with your wrist due to smaller sketch size.

But mind you, when sketching multiple ideas your brain tends to work faster, switching and jumping from one design idea to another, thus you may feel little exhausted at the end of each sketching session. I usually take break or even stop sketching after 30-40 minutes, go for a walk, then come back with fresh mind.

7. Testing your ability at which you can come up with ideas.

This is my favorite part. Thumbnail sketching puts your brain under pressure. It will test it’s idea generating powers. Instead of generating one but big idea/sketch, it will be generating smaller, various ideas but at quicker peace. And to get better at this, you simple do it more over time, more repetitions.


8. Chain reaction and knowing when to stop.

Thumbnail sketches are on their own idea generators. When you finish your sketches, put them on your desk and stare at them. While staring you brain will pick various pieces, forms, shapes etc. and organize them into one final piece, that final piece could be your final design, or not. This concept keeps going on and on like a chain reaction, for that reason, don’t forget to take a break or know when to stop. As a designers, this is the hardest part, knowing when to stop, making the final decision, and moving on to the next stage.

What are your thoughts on thumbnail sketching? How often do you do it and for what purposes?
I hope you enjoyed this post and gave you some value. Keep practicing!


  • mohammed
    Posted at 08:15h, 12 October Reply

    hello,my name is Mohammed from Nigeria.I’m a local designer I draw a wanderful cars that as not been in existen.and I will glade to work with your company as a car designer,my email is on top to contact me thanks

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