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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

What Makes an Effective Value Thumbnail

'Down in the Meadow'           9x12         pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $145
Do you do your thumbnails? I never did a very good job at doing thumbnail sketches. They seemed like a waste of my time. I would rather just get to the fun part and paint. But I like to play when I paint. I don't want to think to hard. I don't want to agonize of every stroke, color and value choice.

A thumbnail a day makes it easier to play!

That's right. Doing a thumbnail makes it easier to let go and paint with passion and still have success. But the thumbnail has to be effective. It really isn't enough to scribble some lines and call it a thumbnail. Nor is it necessary to spend a lot of time on a painstaking mini sketch full of details. There is a happy medium and it really will help. Below I share some tips for a more effective thumbnail. One you can actually use to start your painting.

The reference photo
 In the photo below I am showing two thumbnails. These are Value Thumbnails using just 4 values....a dark, light and middle light and middle dark. The thumbnail on the left is not as useful as the one on the right. Why?

The difference between an ineffective value thumbnail and a useful thumbnail

  • A value thumbnail is best when the subject is simplified into 4-6 big simple shapes. The shapes should be connected or massed and assigned a value. The value should be what is MOST prevalent in the shape....example: a group of trees may have several values but has more darks than anything else so this mass of trees would be assigned a dark value. The trees will be modified as the painting develops.
  • A value thumbnail is more effective when it is small (between business card and post card size) and when you can see the borders of the sketch.
  • A value thumbnail works best when the shapes are massed in with solid flat marks. Scribbly loose marks make it difficult to see the values.

If you would like to see a step by step demo of this tree painting head on over to my Patreon page. We are studying value all month and you can join us for just $4. www.patreon.com/karenmargulis

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