|'In a Nantucket Meadow' 11x14|
Thumbnails are good for you. That is if you are doing them right. I would go through 'thumbnail kicks' where I would do them for a few paintings but then stop. I wasn't really using them effectively so I didn't take the time to do them. I learned some great tips form Doug Dawson about doing black and white thumbnails and I am really excited about them now! I'd like to share some of what I learned.
It's all about the tools. I find that Prismacolor Premier markers work great. I am using Gray #
Charcoal and pencil won't work as well since it is more difficult to get even consistent values.
I am using a small mixed media sketchbook since the markers tend to bleed on thin paper.
An effective thumbnail is small....in between business card and post card size and should be done quickly. If you work too large or too long you tend to get caught up in too many details. The goal is to simplify your composition into big simple shapes using 3-4 values.
STEP ONE: I like to do a rough pencil block in of the main shapes. This isn't necessary but I find it helps me. NO details!!! If you find yourself putting in too many details skip this step and use the markers first! I also like to draw my box on the paper rather than using the whole piece of paper. This gives me a better idea of how the composition fits. Kind of like having a mat.
STEP TWO: Decide what shapes in your design are the LIGHTEST. These shapes you will leave the white of the paper. In a landscape the sky is typically the lightest shape. After you decide on the lightest shape. Take the 20% Gray (middle light value) and block in everything else. Everything else! Even areas that you think will be darker.
TIP: Be sure to fill in each shape solidly. Messy or incomplete areas of value won;t be as effective and aren't as nice to look at!
STEP THREE: Now decide what is the DARKEST shape. Use the 70% gray marker to fill in these dark shapes. Remember you want to have simple masses of value so if you see some light areas in your dark mass.....make the whole thing dark. You will be able to modify the mass as the painting progresses. This will help you avoid spottiness. (see yesterday's post here)
Now you have a three value thumbnail. You can leave it as is or decide to add a dark middle value.
STEP FOUR: Evaluate the light middle value areas that you blocked in with the 20% gray marker. Are there any areas that are a bit darker? If so use the 40% gray marker to mass these shapes in. You now have four simple shapes with each one having a value. You will now use this black and white thumbnail to block in your painting.
|A few of my black and white thumbnails with the reference photo|