I’ve been researching styli for many months now and I believe the verdict is still out on them. There are several varieties to choose from including disc tips, rubber tips and small tipped pens with an included dongle that plugs into the 30-pin connector at the bottom of the iPad. The tech isn’t quite there yet, but it will be soon. Soon there will be a pen that communicates with bluetooth that has a small tip with no disc or other apparatus on the end. It will also have pressure sensitivity. The JaJa stylus is very similar, with a disc, and has pressure sensitivity. It communicates with supersonic sound emissions. The other thing you have to consider is what art app will be compatible with it. I’ve had my eye on the Cregle iPen for a while. It has a dongle that attaches to the bottom of the iPad, small tip, and works with Sketch Club app,which, in my opinion, is one of the best drawing apps on the iPad. But it doesn’t work with all of them. (It’s also getting a few bad reviews, and I just can’t drop a hundred bucks on something that I might not be happy with). That’s what I’m really waiting for, because many times I’ll use several apps together to make a drawing. I want a small tipped, rechargeable, bluetooth pen, with pressure sensitivity, that works with all of my drawing an painting apps. It’ll happen. Just not today.
I was attending a seminar a few years ago, listening to a performance coach. At some point during his workshop he asked a question I’d heard asked many times, “If you want to build a house, what is the first thing you need?” Of course, the knee jerk answer that everyone responded with was, “A foundation.” “So, you’re just going to start pouring concrete out in a field somewhere?” he asked. What you really need is a plan! Design is no different. In order to build a great logo, layout, website, or campaign you need a great plan. Thumbnail drawings are the best way to begin planning your concept and design.
Thumbnail sketches (we’ll call them thumbnails or thumbs, too) are small drawings, usually two or three inches tall that help designers quickly place and experiment with elements in a composition. They are done relatively quickly without a lot of alteration. It’s like brainstorming on paper. The small sketches will help you remember concepts and layouts when it is time to execute the actual piece. It can serve as a guide for photographers and illustrators when working with models and scenes. Thumbnails make the process of choosing the best idea easier through comparison, and helps the designer work through the application of design principles like balance and movement.
Below are a few simple Dos and Don’ts when generating thumbnail drawings.
Begin with a properly composed format. If you know the final destination of the piece then try to emulate the proportions in your sketches. For instance, if you know the design is going to be 16″ x 22″ with a portrait (vertical) orientation then your thumbnail sketches should be tiny versions of that same format. If the final outcome is to be determined by you, then make sure to consider that when creating the thumbnail. Some thumbnails may have no borders at all, such as thumbs generated for logo design. Make sure you give some room around your thumbnails so the designs don’t interfere with one another. Some students cram their drawings together in a grid. Try to avoid this so each idea can live on its own without distraction.
Thumbnails are meant to be relatively quick, so don’t over work them. A more detailed fleshing out of the thumbnail drawing, called a rough, can be generated later once a direction has been chosen. However, as you put your ideas down on paper, don’t make them so sketchy that you can’t tell what’s going on with them later. As you get an idea, quickly sketch it out with enough detail to remind you fully of the idea and layout and also to be able to communicate the idea to your instructor/employer without the need of excessive narration.
Be prolific. Make lots of drawings. Don’t just go for the minimum number of thumbnails you can get by with, draw as many as you can. I’ve had students that would come up with one idea, sketch it out, then generate 15 more not so great ideas in order to “fill the order” and to sort of force my hand into choosing their first one. If you are doing this, you are hurting your own creative process. Build on your ideas and make them better, they are yours after all.
Try to consider each element in your composition. If it’s a photo, then instead of simply drawing a box with an X in it, try giving a clue as to the composition of the photo…consider areas of light and dark with quick shading. All of these things help give a more complete picture of your final design.
Feel free to add notation to your sketches. Sometimes there are small details that will be omitted for size sake or there may be points about the concept that need to be emphasized or explained further.
When placed firmly in the creative process, thumbnail sketches can be a powerful way to create a definitive plan on which to build great design.