Monday, July 19, 2010

Thumbnails are tooooo fun!

This might be my favorite part of starting a new book: THUMBNAILS!
Here are the many pages of teeny tiny drawings I did - just for the title sequence and end papers of Zebrafish.

Some of the things I knew ahead of time were:

1. The first few pages needed to start the story, but could not include dialogue.  The text that was going to be on the page was the Table of Contents (TOC). The following sketches are for the TOC page, the lines represent the chapter list.
In the above sketches, I started with only lines. I flipped the page and drew lines all over the place, trying to think outside of the box - then started to add shapes. I was aware at this point that the TOC page had to show Jay walking to Plinko's apartment. I wanted to represent that in silhouette form.
I sketched their town, even though you would never see it. I tried to figure out where Plinko lived relative to the hospital, the school, was he in the city or the suburbs? We settled on city.

What can you show in a silhouette and still have it make sense? Windows, feet walking, trees, sidewalks, lampposts, the cityscape, a spotlight on Jay...
He is carrying a Wii guitar to Plinko's - I sketched the guitar, all parts of it, the neck, head, and tuning keys look really cool in silhouette.
We ended up using this one:
 The final image needed to leave room for lots of text and show a hint of Jay ringing a doorbell, so we got rid of the tree and building in the foreground on the right:

2. The end papers were a little more defined: A bulletin board filled with student activity. The only specifics were to leave room for Peter H. Reynold's fantastically inspiring afterward. I also included the kids' show poster and a few hidden messages (including a quote from one of my favorite TV shows of all time -My So Called Life and a Pearl Jam song) :)
Here's an image from the inking stage:
And the final art pre-Peter's text:


  1. Cool post, Renee!
    You know—"thumbnail" is a weird word, when you think about it.

  2. This is true! Just looked it up...the meaning is very literal...a drawing the size of your thumb - nail.

    Though, in actuality, most of these are the size of the palm of my hand.Sooo, handpalm?

    Does NOT have the same ring to it. :)

  3. Great sketches! Can you explain the layouts of these pages -- which direction do the drawings go in? And which drawings are variations on the same image?

  4. Sure John! I'm already conjuring up an update for this post to explain more of the process. I'll post later today!

  5. I tend to fall in love with my thumbnails... there is definitely a magic to be found in their simplicity.