Thumbnails are Stronger than Horses

Thumbnails are Stronger than Horses

Did you know fingernails are as strong as a horse’s hooves? [] That’s one strong thumbnail.

At Union Illustration Co. we strive to make our art does as much work as a horse does on any given day. Of course, if we had hooves for hands then drawing would be impossible. And really, why would a marketing agency need hoof art? It’s not even a thing – I checked.

But thumbnail art is a thing, and for the agencies we collaborate with, it achieves two critical objectives.

The first benefit of thumbnail art is communication; it allows us to start a conversation about ideas for an illustration.

You should never accept just one idea from an illustrator. This shows they lack a capacity for out of the box thinking. They might be good at drawing pictures, but this is a creative industry, and you should expect a minimum of two unique ideas. We offer up to five ideas with our largest illustration package. If an illustration is that essential to the project, you shouldn’t settle for just one kick at the can.

Thumbnails are like talking in pictures. It’s pretty hard to explain a vision and hope everyone pictures the same thing in his or her mind. That requires telepathy, and while our team is good, mind reading is not a skill necessary to work here.

Thumbnails are fast – we’ve done as many as fifty while trying to hammer out a great concept. As the client, you only see a few of our best.

Thumbnail of Socks 01
Thumbnail of Socks 03
Thumbnail of Socks 02

Here’s an example of how we made thumbnails for our iMessenger stickers of Socks the Kitten. They’re very rough but you can see how we were quickly getting some ideas down before we did the sketches.

The second benefit of thumbnails is getting to work out the overall composition (or layout) of the illustration before getting to the details. Sometimes you’re going to want a picture that’s horizontal and calm like a landscape. Other times you’re going to be looking for something action packed and full of exciting line work.

Sometimes, clients, are very conservative and there isn’t a lot of room for a wide array of ideas, so maybe the thumbnail just needs to show a particular viewpoint. You might think that a straight on single point perspective point of view is the way to go, but once you see a thumbnail that uses a worm’s eye view, then everything changes.

When you get a thumbnail from Union Illustration Co., you should be ready to talk about what you see and how it makes you feel. More importantly, do you think what we are proposing will work for the client?

Have a conversation with us about it. A thumbnail isn’t set in stone, and that’s what makes it so powerful. If you think the layout isn’t going to work because you need more space for text, or that you more focus on a particular object or person, then the thumbnail is the best place to give us feedback.

Are the ideas compelling enough? When we work with art directors, we don’t want it to be a one-way conversation; we want it to be a collaboration between our team and yours. The art director should feel free to give us their thoughts on the ideas we present.

So when you get a thumbnail for us, remember it’s a conversation starter and the real power is in how we work together before we get to the next stage.

A thumbnail helps facilitate the meeting. When have you seen a horse’s hoof do that?

Michael Grills

Author Michael Grills

Michael Grills is an Illustrator, Artist and Designer working internationally at Union Illustration Co. from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

More posts by Michael Grills