What is a thumbnail sketch?
Thumbnails are the first drawings I make after I read (or write) the manuscript. Thumbnail sketches are where I figure out what I will draw on each double page spread. Each spread of a book is like a scene in a movie or documentary that presents a distinct idea or event.
I also consider book design in my thumbnails. I decide whether the illustration will be a head shot, a landscape, a still life, an interior scene, or a diagram, and where the words will fit on the page. Sometimes one page will only have type, and be across from a picture with no words.
There are lots of choices to make right off the bat. The thumbnail is where I make most of these big decisions. Drawing small helps me focus on that big idea not details.
The image here shows the thumbnail sketches for an upcoming book about birds.