BFA Art School Portfolios TRACK: Lesson 1


Make a viewfinder by cutting a rectangular window into a piece of cardboard. Pick 1 room in your residence, and walk around holding the viewfinder and frame little “scenes” in that room that interest you. Play with getting up close vs standing further back, and aim for a broad variety of scenes.


Create twelve thumbnail sketches based on the areas that interest you. Aim for each thumbnail sketch to look as different from the others as possible, you want variety! Make compositions that allow you to explore different shapes and layouts.

start drawing

Use pencil or any other black and white drawing medium. Draw literal rectangles for each thumbnail so you can see them clearly (don’t draw a grid and fill in the boxes).

Each thumbnail should be about 3″x 4″, no need to be precise and measure. Tweak the thumbnails by changing the cropping, expanding the image until you have a variety of thumbnails.

Recommended media

Pencil, or any black and white drawing medium.

Artists for inspiration

Watch slideshow with examples

How to Draw Thumbnail Sketches

This video explains and demonstrates the process of how thumbnail sketches work within the artistic process. There are many benefits of thumbnail sketches: they can save you time when working on a final piece of artwork and allow you to explore more options for composition.

The demonstration shows simple strategies on how to crop or expand your thumbnail sketches and how to diversify your options. Discussion and demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Cat Huang.

What Makes a 2D Composition Great

What qualities are seen in great 2D compositions in art? Examples of impactful compositions from fine art, comics, illustration, movies, and more are shown in this video.

Selected artworks serve as examples to explain and break down the compositions in order to point out strategies that make for an engaging 2D composition. Discussion by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Jordan McCracken-Foster.

Share Your Progress

Post your ongoing progress in the #artprof-tracks channel in our Discord, you’ll get support and feedback from our staff and the community!

Tag us on Instagram with #artproftrack to show us what you make! We love sharing what you create in our Instagram Stories.

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