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Business card thumbnail sketches

Business card thumbnail sketches. | Page Layout Terms | Alpha Index to Full Dictionary:

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Aside from being the nail on your thumb, in desktop publishing and graphic design thumbnail refers to either small versions of an image or slide or preliminary drawings or rough sketches of a page layout — also called thumbnail sketches.

Thumbnails can be hand drawn, such as quick pencil sketches of a potential business card layout, or generated by software, such as the thumbnail preview images of pictures in a photo gallery. They are called thumbnails because they are small, like your thumbnail (the one on your thumb). Although like thumbs, thumbnail images and sketches can come in many sizes.

A thumbnail is sometimes words. One general definition of thumbnail is as a brief description of a person, place, or thing. A mini-biography of a US President might be considered a thumbnail. A summary of a book is a thumbnail. A brief outline might be considered a thumbnail. Like thumbnail images and thumbnail sketches for page layout, a thumbnail is something brief, concise, and usually preliminary in nature. It's often like a very early rough draft.

Creating and Using Thumbnail Images

Thumbnail images are typically used in digital photo albums or galleries to show a small preview image. It can help with organizing large numbers of images without opening each one to see where it should be filed. Some software, including PowerPoint, shows thumbnail images of graphics and documents to aid in choosing a file to open. Desktop publishing software may use thumbnail images of individual pages in a document to aid in navigation or drag-n-drop reordering of pages. Using thumbnails on Web pages can speed up page loads and assist in navigation.


VOTE IN WEB DESIGN POLL: How do you prefer thumbnails for photo galleries be made?

Making Thumbnail Sketches

The use of thumbnail sketches allows designers or artists to quickly try out, discard, and alter layouts or compositions before committing pencil or paint to paper or before starting on a document in page layout software.
 VOTE IN DESKTOP PUBLISHING POLL: Do you do thumbnail sketches before starting computer work on a project?
 1) Yes, most of the time. 
 2) If I'm not in a hurry. 
 3) Usually only on complicated projects 
 4) No, I don't find it useful. 
 5) No, it never occured to me to do so. 
 View Results of Thumbnail Sketches Poll 

Quotes About Thumbnails

"These sketches only have meaning to me. I often write notes to myself so I can figure out what I meant to do, even if I can't figure out what the drawing means several days later." — Judy Litt, former About.com Guide to Graphic Design, looking at a logo makeover from rough sketch to finished product.
"Imagine your subject or picture stripped of all details, through squinted eyes, or in poor light. All you see are big rough shapes and some lines. That's all you need for a thumbnail." — Helen South, About.com Guide to Drawing / Sketching, describing how to create thumbnail sketches
"Not to sound like anyone's great-grandmother, or anything, but "back in the day" (pre-PC) I remember (not fondly, either) covering sheet after sheet of paper with thumbnail sketches of an ever-evolving concept. It was the single best method of working out compositional flaws without spending a year or two on one design." — Shelley Esaak, About.com Guide to Art History, defining the non-PC thumbnail


Also Known As: sketch | rough sketch | rough draft | preview image

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