Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Thumbnail designs

Inspiration can be unexpected.
Recently I was flipping through a folder with artwork by artists I admire and this particular folder caught my eye. The bottom left thumbnail looked a girl with long braids, wearing a big black hat and baggy black and blue trousers, thrusting forward into empty space.
With the details being too small to see, I couldn't be sure what the actual image was supposed to depict but I decided to put my own idea down on paper...

... which resulted in this character.

The thumbnail was of a piece of art by Korean concept artist Hyung Tae Kim. Clearly it was not what I had imagined it to be, but it shows how amazing your mind can be in finding meaning where things are unclear.

Instead of hoping to find that random small image, drawing your own thumbnails is common method used by concept designers to spark their creative juices. The human mind is very sensitive to silhouettes, so the low detail thumbnail can feed your brain with raw ideas in their simplest form.
The Skillful Huntsman is a concepts art book that showcases the creative process for character, vehicle and environment designs by three ex-Art Centre College of Design students. The thumbnail method is used extensively and masterfully to explore possibilities before a final version is chosen.

My own first go at using thumbnails for character design did not yield as much variation as I wanted, but there is definitely much potential in the method.

More information about Hyung Tae Kim: Hyung-taekim.org
Example pages from The Skillful Huntsman: Design Studio Press

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