thumbnails to finished

Friday, February 20, 2009

thumbnail sketches of little photo frames

from long, long ago ... the very first project I did for customer No. Uno way back in the spring of 02' eek ! nearly 7 years ago. Goodness where does the time go.

Mmmm left a comment recently asking a bit about this thumbnail drawing process of mine so I thought I'd explain - with visuals of course. These little idea thumbnails are small - these two groups of sketches fit on an 8.5x11 page. I work on tracing paper so that I can fold the paper and see through the back to trace and make these little miniature drawings perfectly symmetrical. I was given art direction with this particular project to look at and be inspired by silver turquoise jewellery. I use a mechanical pencil (much loved and red in colour), and a kneaded eraser initially and I try as I might at this stage to not think too much about what I'm doing. I like to put my brain on a kind of creative cruise control and draw as many ideas as time allows. When I'm happy with the little pencil drawings I then go over the design with my fine black ink drawing pens (drawings scan much better in black) and shade areas with an HB pencil and smudger to show relief and dimension.

I hear many designers say No matter how many ideas that I come up with - my first idea is often the strongest - usually my best. Perhaps back in the day when I was a graphic designer this may also have applied to me but now that I find myself drawing product and with the incredible wealth of inspiration and reference material dans la www - I find the more ideas that I draw the better the ideas become. When I've used up my allotted thumbnail drawing time - most often self imposed. I then scan these little drawings and send them via email to my customer (who I've never met or seen in 7 years) she takes my drawings to a meeting where they discuss and critique them and make their choices. For example No. 2 make a 3.5x5, No. 8 a 4x6 and so on. I often do pages of thumbnails per assignment - my thinking the more they have to choose from the more final frames that they'll pick. Which is true. And the more drawings they pick the fatter Mama's invoice will be.

I then enlarge the drawings to actual size, print them out and do final, perfect, much more detailed actual size drawings on tracing paper, scan them and send these - first as a clean drawing and then I'll mark all the production instruction notes regarding relief, dimensions etc on the clean finished drawing - scan again and send this final technical drawing.

Are you asleep yet ?

It's raining and mild ... and time once again to get goin' and begin another new day.


  1. No, not asleep yet... to the contrary, fascinated. These little drawings are so intricate.
    When I worked in Philadelphia, I used to walk through Lord and Taylor on my lunch hour. One of my favorite displays was a group of tiny, delicate, highly detailed picture frames and little boxes. Your drawings remind me of those.

  2. Hi sweet, sweet Susan!! I am not asleep….I think it is so cool! One of my classes this semester is in Art and we are currently talking/learning about graphic design. Rock on!

    Much love to you and the furry gang! xo

  3. I love the process...same with my images..either dealing with people or a stillife...the more i wants to play back...its allowing the space to come in...thanks

  4. Your designs are so often what I like and so similar to what I have in my home. And I think your creative process is fascinating.

  5. How can you say "asleep". That is fascinating!xxx

  6. These are so divine!!! Some so very traditional with that spiced-up modern twist!! Love them & wish I knew where your client was retailing them....I would buy, buy, buy!!! You are amazing, Susan!!!!

  7. i really enjoyed reading how you do this!! i'd love to know where i could buy one of your frames some day!!


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