October 7, 2022

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  • Working BIG– thumbnailing at a larger scale

I’m not saying I’m getting on in years but… I’m not not saying I’m getting on in years. You know what I’m saying?

Those odd stray grays have become some ever-increasing patchwork…

And the lines on my face have transitioned from temp work to full-time…

Also, I now feel the cold in my bones. What the sh*t is that about? I live about two blocks south of Santa’s joint…

Age comes for us all.

Maybe age comes a bit more hellbent for some than others. I’ve put many a mile on me.

But sooner or later, old happens.

And, inevitably, getting older is going to change how we work.

Which, naturally– half-a-dozen-or-so paragraphs into this thing– brings us to our topic of thumbnailing for storyboards.

(Oh, folks. I’ve missed you, too.)

I forget when, exactly, and why, for that matter, but at some point, for some reason, Sergio and I found ourselves shooting the poop on thumbnails and my general dislike of them.

Don’t get me wrong, I know– and agree– thumbnails are considered a critical part of storyboarding.

(If you’re clicking in completely cold, uh, sorry you got stuck with me as your guide, and here’s a basic rundown:

(We use thumbnails as part of the “thinking process,” to work out ideas for a scene visually and figure out what the best images are to convey whatever it is we’re trying to convey.

(As the name suggests, thumbnails are generally small– so small they can’t really be fussed over, and that’s the point, because you want quickly done, simple images focused purely on storytelling during this stage.

(Sometimes, they even get done right on the script pages, off in the margins.)

Anyway, my work is no doubt better for having incorporated thumbnails into it.

But I do struggle with them– with working at that scale in general, really– because I have old-man eyes and glass hands.

(Also because I have a tendency to noodle away, but that’s a different issue.)

Here’s the food for thought Sergio and I left each other with:

Yes, thumbnails are generally done small, but… do they actually have to be?

What if you’re like me– with the old-man eyes and the glass hands? And what if you tried drawing BIG instead?

Now, this idea does come with caveats:

Whether working small or at a larger scale, you should always use the same principles.

You should always focus on blocking in your shapes without the details.

And you should always focus on developing clean composition and clear storytelling.

But nothing’s keeping you from taking up a little or a lot more real estate, whether it’s on paper or on a tablet.

Nothing’s stopping you from taking up an entire page or screen with a single shot, if you want to, and throwing those lines from your elbow or shoulder.

Just size those massive images down later, when you’ve finished up.

There are very few truly concrete rules in storyboarding. If you produce things that read well, do so on time, and do so without being a d!ck, then you’ve probably got all the big ones covered well enough to get and keep jobs.

Otherwise, nobody particularly cares how you get to your final result.

Cheers,
Damien



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