Using Thumbnails to make your Art more dynamic and interesting! | Alexander Viguerie | Skillshare

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Using Thumbnails to make your Art more dynamic and interesting!

teacher avatar Alexander Viguerie, Illustrator/ Designer/ Instructor

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (20m)
    • 1. Lesson 01 Intro

    • 2. Lesson 02 Project Information

    • 3. Lesson 03 Changing the Camera Angle

    • 4. Lesson 04 Choosing a Crop

    • 5. Lesson 05 Changing the Zoom

    • 6. Lesson 06 Recap

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About This Class

In this class, we will define thumbnails and their use in planning pieces of art. Students will learn different techniques in the thumbnailing process to create dynamic and interesting compositions.

This class is designed for anyone from an absolute beginner to an intermediate level artist. No prior skills or knowledge are necessary to complete the class or the class project.

Students will learn skills in this class that will be applicable to any future pieces of art, no matter what medium. The skills gained will allow the student's art to progress. The theory discussed will foster a deeper understanding of how prior planning and research can maximize the visual interest created in each piece.

Students will require pencils, pens, paper and possibly access to a printer if they would prefer to use my thumbnail template.

Meet Your Teacher

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Alexander Viguerie

Illustrator/ Designer/ Instructor


Hello there, I'm Alexander.  I have a BFA with a concentration in Illustration from Northern Michigan University.  I have worked as a professional artist for the last 20 years or so as both an in house studio artist and a freelance illustrator.  I have worked on a wide variety of projects that include Graphic Design, Video editing, Comic Book Illustration, and Children's book art.  For the past 7 years, I have worked as an Art Instructor, teaching a range of students from beginners to college level coursework.


I hope you enjoy my courses and would appreciate your feedback!


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1. Lesson 01 Intro: Hi, my name is Alex. I'll be your instructor today. I have about 20 years of experience as an illustrator, graphic designer, and art educator. And today our class is going to be all about thumbnailing and how you can use that to create more dynamic creative compositions in your work. So basically a little prior planning that will really help you strengthen your work later on in the creative process. Okay? So thank you very much. So if you're ready, let's make some art. 2. Lesson 02 Project Information: So I wanted to go ahead and let you guys know about the project. Just go over that pretty quickly with you. Pretty easy this time. All I'm asking that you guys do is the next time that you have an idea or if you already have an idea about what it is that your next work of art is going to be just go through this thumbnailing process, see if it helps you. If it helps you create more dynamic compositions, you know, go through and follow the steps, go ahead and change the camera angles. Try different crop, go ahead and do different cameras zoom level. To help you do that. What I did was in your walk them to go ahead and and thumbnail along with me is you don't really need these files, but just in case you want them. I went ahead and made some 8.5 by 11 sheets that have just a bunch of squares on them. So you can use them for thumbnailing. There's a vertical one, which is this one. There's a horizontal which is this one. And you know, just the exact same number of squares just turned horizontally. And then there's this one which just squares. All right, you guys prefer you can always just download these files and print them out. You don't have to use it. I just wanted to include these in case you would like to use them in your own work. Okay. Now I'm gonna go ahead and explain the three-step process. So we're going to go ahead and move on to that right now. 3. Lesson 03 Changing the Camera Angle: Let's talk about the thumbnailing process. So when you first start out, when you're gonna wanna do is you already have an idea in mind. If you take a look at this example, I think what they're trying to show is this building at night. If you look at the first one, kinda more of a standard strain on approach, right Here's looking at you seeing the door from the front. You're seeing the tower from the front. You know what the moon in the background. Really nice. But if you think about changing up camera angles, what that means is where are you viewing the scene from? So you could imagine if you were a movie director and you have seen happening in front of you, if someone standing one position and they're viewing the scene, it's going to look completely different. If someone is in a helicopter viewing that same scene from above, or if you're a lady bug on the ground looking up at the scene, it's going to look completely different. If you notice, a lot of times cinematographers and in movies and things, a lot of times what they'll do is they'll change out an angle that is shot from just gives more visual interests. This would be looking at this same structure just from the little bit below and a little bit turned, right. So you can see a little bit more of this side. I'm assuming this is the same structure right here, and then this is the peak that you'd be seeing her here. And then this one there's just kind of the same thing as this. What they did was they move the moon behind that main tower. So it looks as though everything else is in darkness. Well, that's a little bit more dramatic. This would give you kind of Morrow overall lighting everywhere. So all of these things are things you can think about like this one down here, you know, this kind of adding the tree branch and front, changing the angle and then giving some of these more harsh shadows that adds to the drama. So all of these are different. It's just a matter of how you visualize them all, but they're all exactly the same idea that your communicate. Another thing you can do whenever you, especially at this step, if you want to start adding or removing elements, that's this is a great time to do it. And then also things like this. So if you took this original thumbnail and then you kind of combine it with elements from this one, kinda end up with this, have some of these harsh shadows. You have this moon in the background, like this one. But you still get more of an overall lighting feel like this one has, but she still kinda get some of the drama from here. So if you really don't like everything about one of them, you can certainly take pick and choose elements that you can combine. So now what we're gonna do, we're gonna move on and I'm going to show you a real-time example of changing up camera angles and how this is applied and demonstrate it in thumbnailing. What I'm gonna do to start out the thumbnail process is I'm gonna go ahead and show you guys my original idea for this piece that I may be creating soon as kind of a landscape. So I'm going to start out with just a horizontal crop. I have no idea what the crop is going to actually end up being, but I'm going to start out with just a horizontal crop. And I would like a landscape going on, have a horizon line. There may be some really rolling hills in the background or something like that. And then I would like there to be like a, like a lone tree kinda dotting the landscape. Maybe like an old dead tree or something. Limb like that, you know, like a few little rocks and things going on. Maybe even like a bush really far are really close in the foreground over here, like that. And then just a few random deserty kinds of elements going on. Maybe they'll even be a really big hill way in. Okay. So looking at that, this is very straight on, just looking straight out like you would be standing in that in that environment. Okay. So what would it look like if we changed up the camera angle? Well, let's let's do the same kind of thing. But maybe this time, maybe we're standing over here somewhere. And this tree is kinda coming in really close to us, really taking up a lot of the paper. Now I can't even see the bottom on it. Maybe the tree is really close in, so I'm like that, right? And you still have this rolling hill that, you know, Landscape back here. Maybe that mountain is way over here now. Maybe there's some plows going on back here. Same kind of little dots and things, maybe even a little bit of That's No same little bushes and things. So that's a little bit more dynamic, but is it what I'm going for? I mean, I don't know that the tree itself is not really the it's the centerpiece of this area, but you know, kind of the mountain is really becoming the figure in this piece. So let me see. A model is change up the camera angle. What would it look like if we took the same tree and maybe we were over here. Maybe we were like at the base of the tree. Look, I know maybe we would only see maybe we would only see the trunk of the tree as it kind of fades into these branches that kinda go out all over the place. You know, some sort of crazy perspective where it's hidden way up like that. Well, I mean that that does show the tree and maybe you even have a few clouds and things back here. But that's not really what I'm going for. I'm not really trying to show just the tree. I think what I'm really trying to see is, well, maybe there's a better angle that would have. Maybe I want to be kinda behind this bush. So the bush itself is still in this foreground. But maybe I want the tree to be more centrally located, kinda pushing up out of the end of the distance here, pushing up through the top. Maybe I want the same little hills. That kinda thing with, with those clowns. Are we some sort of clouds? You know, not really feeling that either. I think so far, the one that I liked the best is this one over here, which has a really extreme close-up of the tree while still having some of these other elements. So I do like this element, and then I also like this element and I really enjoy the clouds. So what I think I'm gonna do is go ahead and try one last one. I'm going to just combine some of those elements. And I'm going to say, put the tree almost Central but still to the side, but not quite as large, but somewhere around here with the branches all going crazy. I so did tree and live in rat up in here like Mr. Bob Ross would say. And then I'm going to have a horizon line and these rolling hills as one big hill. And I'll have Way back there and have some clouds. So do like the cloud element. I do like it kinda going all the way across back. But then I'm also going to have this kind of a bush element right in here. And I'll probably, it will also include some of those little rocks and maybe even a little bit more little bushy stuff way back there so you can kind of see what's happening and what's going on there. And that's how you do it, guys. That's how you start out. You're looking at at all from one angle and then just imagining what it would look like from different area. You know, if I really wanted to go to the extreme, I could be standing, that could be inside the tree. Maybe I'm like sitting up here somewhere in the tree and there would just be branches coming through. So they've kind of obscuring my vision. Maybe a couple of branches way out there and then I'd be seeing the mountain and background, big mountain, you know, somebody's a little rocks and things. But then I could really get an idea, you know, what all these texture of all these little branches and things looks like. But that's not what I'm trying to go for. I had the idea that I really wanted the focal point of the piece to be the old dead tree. And if that's the case, this accomplishes that. But it also gives me a little bit more of an interesting composition that I think is what I would consider the best thumbnail. Okay, Now let's move on. 4. Lesson 04 Choosing a Crop : Okay. Let's go through and talk about the second portion of your thumbnailing process, which would be choosing your crop. So at this point you already have your camera angle setup. You already know pretty much what you're seeing is gonna look like. So now you need to think about what kind of crop you want, right? So if you look at these, these are three different crops. These are not the only crops. Just really simple examples that I wanted to show you guys before we do one, I do one, showing you my process. This is a horizontal crop, is a square crop and this is a vertical crop, okay? This horizontal crop shows a lot of the sky, just a little bit of the water. You know, sailboats kinda alone. They sail boat dotted out in that area. But really basic RAM and come down to the vertical ground. This would look completely different if you imagine that the outline of the squares where your paper n, right where you're drawing ends or you're painting in, this would show a ton of the sailboat said what would be much larger? You have a bigger area of water down at the bottom. Secant really emphasize the shadow coming down if you wanted to, but you would still have all of the same elements. It would just be a different crop. And this one's going to showing you the best of both worlds, right? Or some of both worlds at least where you have a lot more sky and a lot of water and say, well, it's a little bit smaller, but it's kind of in-between these two. But that's not to say that you can't crop it any kind of way that you want. This is your piece of art, right? So if you decided you wanted to make this a big long panoramic shot that was really long and skinny horizontally. But the sailboat way over here, if you wanted to have really emphasized the mountains, you really emphasized the scale of everything where it looks like the sailboat is drift in its way down this whatever body water, this is a really pretty, you could do the same kind of thing with if you wanted to make a really long, skinny vertical crop where you could really have the shadow come all the way down. You pull this x1 way down here if you wanted to. So yet, a really long casted shadow. So you really emphasize all the water just depends on what you're trying to say. Okay, this is all about the best way to present your idea. And if the best way to present your idea is something totally different than, than what you see here. Go nuts man, you're making this art just because you're, you have one piece of paper that looks like this. It doesn't mean that's what you have to stick with. You can do lots of different things. All right. Well, let's go through and I'll, I'll show you exactly how I would work on the crop. And the last step I decided that this was going to be the overall camera angle that I wanted. Okay, so what I'm gonna do now is try to pick the actual crop that I want you. So what I'm gonna do is start with that same, that same composition. All right, I'm gonna go ahead and just quickly sketch in the tree. It doesn't have to be great guys. You just have to know in your own mind what it is that you're showing now that same old tree, that kind of looks like an old paint brush or something. And then right in here is your horizon line and then you have some rolling hills and then a little bit bigger of a mountain, clouds that are going behind the mountain and a big bush and the front couple of other bushes and then some random little stuff. Okay, Now, I liked the way that looks and horizontal crop. But what would it look like if I decided to go ahead and use a vertical crop, same elements, the tree. And maybe this time you'll actually see all the way to the top, you have the same tree. The tree, but this time because it's a vertical crop, that tree takes up a lot more real estate on the page, right? And then still right in here somewhere, my horizon line and a rolling hills, my big mountain. And I can actually really include a lot more of the clouds and things in this one than that big bush still right in the corner. Few other bushes and things. Well, I don't know. I kinda really like this so far. No. Do I like it better than that? I think that I do. I think I have the elements are all pulled them together. And I would really like this big open sky, this big area right here would have all of the little grass and details and things that I would really enjoy painting if I was going to paint it. Okay. But just, just to make sure you go and try just to more of a square crop. And literally guys, you can have a crop that is a tiny little panoramic crop if you wanted to, you could do the same thing vertically as a panoramic crop. You could do circle, and this is about the most horrendously drawn circle you've ever seen. But that's what I'm talking about, you know, and you wanted to put in your, your elements tree really quickly. You're not really trying for D2. You're only trying to get an idea about what it would look like. Clowns Bush might look really nice and like a circle or an oval kind of thing might look really great in the panoramic. And let's just make sure that it's square crop is not the way that we want to go. I'm going to go ahead and, and this really quick tree here, rise in line, mountain, clowns bush. I mean, it's not bad. I do I don't know. I think I like it better than the original horizontal crop. But for me, I think this is the way to go. I love painting all of these big giant open skies and things. So and this little detail work right here. That's what I would say I would go with. So, so far we've changed up the camera angle. Now we've explored some alternative crops. And I think we're at the point now where the composition is pretty much set. So now let's go ahead and move on to the third step. 5. Lesson 05 Changing the Zoom : Okay, The last thing that I want to show you guys about thumbnailing is your third step. You've already changed the camera angle a few times. You might have actually adjusted life, and then you've also adjusted the crop you've taken that grew up, you know, you know exactly what you want to go from crop you want to use. The last thing that you want to adjust is the zoom level your cameras zoom. So if you take a look at these examples, these are all a square where ish crop and they're all the same. Camera angle lighting really too. If you look at this upper left, it zoomed kind of far out. You can see the shadows and things. You wanted to go back further. You can see the room that he was in, all of those kinds of things. The background, now, you know, whether you want to show the background is all about what your idea is, right? What you're trying to communicate to the viewer. So, you know, in this, this might, if you wanted to say show the dog in an environment so that you could evoke some sort of emotional response. Whether you want it to have it look like he's just being lazy on the front porch, really enjoying himself being all content. Maybe that's a kind of crop that you want to go for the kinda zoom level that you want to go forward and take a look at this one. The most extreme example of being really far zoomed in. This could be you want to show a look of worry on the dog's face. You really want to focus on just the dog, but then you want something in the middle maybe or you want something in the middle as far as the zoom level goes, but you don't want the dog to be perfectly front and center. Maybe you want to show some of the texture of the floor that a sitting on top of. All right, let's go on and go ahead and move on to the last little bit of my demonstration, which is how I adjust the zoom level cameras zoom level in my thumbnailing process. Okay. So the third step is going to be we're just going to change the camera, zoom. That means how close or far away is the same from you, from you, from the viewer. Okay, So we have a bunch of, I'm gonna go ahead and do several of these little vertical crops. Let's say we were really far away, same crop, same elements. But this tree was really far away from us, was way over here. There's big dead tree, our bushes and things. And then we had this big giant ocean the front, and we had a few other little grassy things. And then our mountain or rolling hills are way back there. And then we had some really big sky somewhere back there. Do I like that? It's okay. I don't find it to be overly interesting, but, but it's not bad. Okay, So then let's try a medium crop, which we kinda had already. But just as an idea, a little bit, zoomed out a little bit further than the one that brought us to this point. No tree, bushes, big bush, horizon line, rolling hills, mountain and Big Sky. Now it's probably going to be darker, so I'll darken an answer just so it's easier to see. So I don't look like I'm doing chicken scratch. Okay. So this one I like it. I think this is part of the reason why it is we, we actually, or I actually ended up on this crop to begin with. But let me go ahead and just to make sure I'm gonna go ahead and zoom in a bit more so that maybe some of these branches are hanging out, gone off the page and I'm being zoomed in would allow us to do quite a bit more texture and things. And we would have our horizon line. Rolling hills are very large. Mountain would now be kind of obscured by the, by the branch dark in that so you can see it a little better. We have this still this big bush, which actually if we made it even bigger and the front it would kind of cover up a little bit of this tree. And also in that grass, it's more details and things and the Big Sky Way back there wouldn't really be broken up by tree branches. Okay. Well, I mean me personally because I'm attempting to really show the tree. My idea was the tree as a part of this landscape. This would allow me to paint a lot of detail on the tree, would still give me the big sky. But I could have some of these branches really break up the composition. And that would allow something in the extreme foreground, something in the middle ground, something in further away in the middle ground. It would really help with the depth for the P, you know. So me personally, I really think that the best one out of all of them is probably this last one. This would give me a really interesting composition and it would be something that I would enjoy painting. Okay, hopefully you guys understand what you're trying to do with your thumbnailing process. You're really just trying to come up with different ways that you can present the idea that you have to the viewer, okay? Hopefully that makes sense. 6. Lesson 06 Recap : So hopefully you guys learned something today that will help you improve your planning process and improve the overall quality of your art. Thank you very much. I look forward to seeing your your thumbnails if you'd like to place them or post them in the project folder, then I would happily go over them all in and gave me my opinions. So alright. Thank you. See you guys next time.