Sketching Through Tough Scenes

Some illustrations may come easily; they flow, your initial thumbnail sketches are right on target, the vision in your head is transferring just as you imagined! But what about those scenes that are just not working? You know the ones…pencil markings layering up, paper crumbles, fear that you’ve lost your touch and your book will never be complete!
Well, here’s where you go back to the drawing board- literally – to your thumbnail sketches. This process allows you to take a step back, breathe, and reminds you to look at the scene from multiple perspectives. These thumbnails are here to give you grace. Once a few of your thumbnails look promising, pick your favorites, and sketch ’em out. Don’t have to go full out ; once you have a baseline, you will get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.

I wanted to show my character, Colt, training on jungle gyms with his friends, but didn’t know how I wanted to visually tell the story. After going through a bunch of thumbnails, I started sketching up some different perspectives.

So I sketched….

…asking myself questions throughout the process to guide my thinking:

What does determination look like for kids? What playground equipment is physically challenging for kids? Which equipment do friends play on together? Or have competitions on?  

I tried to capture movement, playfulness, and a different perspective, so I sketched some more…

I decided I really liked Colt and his friends training on the monkey bars, but now had to figure out the best perspective and composition, so….I sketched some more.

Tackle that tough picture head on! Choose one image that you are currently struggling with and start from scratch. Work up 5 thumbnails – making sure that each completely different from one another  (different perspective close vs. far; different composition; different angle) . Sketch out 2 of them to compare and contrast the sketches. Where did it take you?

Draw your Heart Out,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *