Let’s sketch a plan for our comic - a.k.a. Thumbnailing. Trying to plot out your comic by doing really detailed work to start is a great recipe for disaster!
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Topic: Thumbnails

Email 4 (of 8)

Let’s sketch a plan for our comic - a.k.a. Thumbnailing

Trying to plot out your comic by doing really detailed work to start is a great recipe for disaster! This is where thumbnailing comes in. Thumbnail sketches are little, rough, and quick compositions of each individual page that you're going to create within your comic book. Thumbnails offer a chance to see a zoomed out perspective of the final comic book composition without going into all of the work that is needed to create it. 

To help us understand how to approach thumbnails we are visited by comic artist and instructor Caleb Cleveland.

Thumbnailing Interview with Caleb Cleveland

Click this link to go directly to a transcription for this video

Featured Materials

Below is a preview of some of the additional readings, videos, comics, and other resources to enhance your learning regarding this email’s topic. You can review these materials in full by going to the course landing page.

Caleb Cleveland Thumbnailing Model
These are several of Caleb Cleveland's pages that he referred to during this email’s interview.


How To Make Rough Layouts by Mark Crilley
This video provides an overview of how planning page layouts directly affects the final result of your comic making process. 


Be Friends with Failure by Stephen McCranie
A comic by Stephen McCranie, which teaches the reader how artists need to see failure as a learning experience in order to persevere and progress within their chosen discipline.


You vs You by Stephen McCranie
Another comic by Stephen McCranie, in it he explains that self doubt is a pitfall that can get in the way of a new artist's ability to succeed.

Daniel Warren Johnson Interview on Gutter Talk Podcast Show
A podcast interview with comic writer Daniel Warren Johnson on the Gutter Talk Podcast. In it he describes his tools of the trade, his artistic process, and his faith.

Featured Activity

Activity: Draw Your Thumbnails



You will be creating Thumbnails for your final comic book. A couple important notes on the thumbnailing worksheet: 
  1. While you do not need to use the worksheet in order to complete this assignment, we would suggest it for the sake of this course. The four mini-pages within the thumbnailing worksheet are scaled models of your page. 
  2. The final comic page is designed to fit on one half of a folded piece of standard American copy paper (American copy paper is 8.5 inches x 11 inches, a.k.a. “A4”, folded it is 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches - the comic page worksheets for this course as scaled to fit on a final piece of folded paper.)

Follow these directions:

  • Read this email’s tutorial
  • Print out 1 copy of this email’s worksheet
  • Fill it out according to the directions in this email’s tutorial.
  • Turn them over for peer review to a friend, or assess them yourself

Feedback (Optional)

Concentrate feedback on what you or your peer like about the image you drew. Notice the lines, the shapes, the ideas. Try and use the following sentence for feedback: "What I like about this piece of artwork is [insert what you like]"

Activity Models

Course Provided Model
The above model was provided during the original course, and shows an example of a completed scripting worksheet.

Student Activity Models
If you need inspiration look at the student models provided within the document above to see how others completed this assignment.

Activity Materials

Thumbnailing Tutorial

This tutorial will walk you through the process of correctly creating thumbnails for your comics.

Thumbnailing Worksheet

A blank worksheet that you will use to create the thumbnails for your comic book.

Thumbnailing Rubric

Use the above rubric to have a peer assess your work, or assess it yourself. Make sure that you reference it as you’re preparing your thumbnails. 

When completed, tally up the amount of “Yes” answers (questions provided within the rubric) to see whether or not your work has room for improvement. Then, refine as needed.

0-1 = Poor
2-3 = Satisfactory
4 = Good
5 = Excellent

Next Steps

You’re at the end of this section of the course! Check your inbox for the next email.



Under My Thumb 

Thumbnails may seem simple, but the fact that this stage calls on students to not take their time with “art” can be confusing. Students often put too much detail or spend too much time on their thumbnails, missing the point of the entire section. 

The idea around thumbnails is to stress the student’s need to produce a quantity of options to choose from rather than focusing on the quality of a single option. Then, when receiving critique, there are a number of options for any given page of art to decide from. Click the “Teacher Tips & Tricks” button below to see some exercises that can help your students grasp this concept.
Tips & tricks for troubleshooting common student issues during this section of the project are covered on the email 4 section of the “How To Make A Comic Book” Teacher’s Guide:
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