Thumbnail Sketches: Tracing Paper Technique

See a step by step demo of how create thumbnail sketches in color, using techniques involving tracing paper, hard copy print outs, and digital adjustments.

59 min. video

See Part 1 of this process through creating digital collages as image references for painting.

Demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

Video Walkthrough

  • Start by creating a “base” thumbnail sketch, one that has visual elements that you are certain you want to include in your composition.
  • This “base” thumbnail should have the basics of the value range as well as the colors, in a very simplified way.
  • Shape is incredibly important in thumbnails, and not letting yourself get stuck on details.
  • Place tracing paper over this thumbnail and explore adding other visual elements that you are considering.
  • Using tracing paper is fast and efficient; you don’t have to draw every thumbnail from scratch!
  • Finish the first tracing paper sketch, then remove it and place a second sheet of tracing paper to start a second sketch.
  • Try out different color schemes, various value ranges in these tracing paper sketches.
  • You can take a photo of the tracing paper sketches, and print out hard copies on cardstock.
  • Cardstock is helpful in case you decide to paint on these hard copy sketches.
  • On the hard copies you can go back in with other media (in this case marker) and add more details and specifics to the composition.
  • You can also take photos of the tracing paper sketches and adjust the contrast, brightness, and the color schemes digitally.
  • These digital tweaks are fast and give you a great overview of the many options you can explore in your thumbnails.
Thumbnail sketches tracing paper Enjolras
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