I hear this sometimes.

“I don’t know how to draw. My drawings are too poor.
Therefore I can’t thumbnail or plan my shot properly”

So I wanted to bring up simplicity in the planning process. Just because your drawings are not refined, or are Picasso pieces of art, that doesn’t mean it should stop you from being able to thumbnail your shot and plan it out more efficiently. I still feel like thumbnailing is one of those tools that allows me to road map my shot. Even if I’m still relying heavily on video reference…I’ve found, it’s nice to have some poses/notes/thoughts on a piece of paper, next to the shot I’m working on.

My drawing skills are definitely not good ones. That doesn’t stop me from planning my shot even if the drawings are fast drawings or really simple ones. Think of a Stick Figure style of drawing. It’s just a circle, a bar for the spine, bars for the arms, legs…and if it helps, two bars for the shoulders and hips to see how one relates to the other.

I wanted to show a couple of examples of simple thumbs. Sometimes, even just a simple scribble or line will do to show an idea for an acting shot or a physical move. Things like the line of action of the spine are important to represent when planning shots. What’s important is to focus on the IDEA…and hopefully show it through a simple drawing regardless of how good/bad the drawing is. Also depending on the design, things can also be simplified by drawing circles or squares.


This is really well represented in this next image, of a Yoga posture chart I found online. See how every pose reads almost immediately. And again, it’s just using simple stick figure lines and a simple small line representing the nose and where the head is pointing at.

To finish, I wanted to show one of my favourite examples of amazing thumbnails where the idea/choices/enterntainment/posing is the priority, and not the details. These are thumbnails from animator Tasha Harris, former Pixar animator who worked on “Toy Story 2” (Thanks Tasha for letting me use these). This to me is a wonderful example of how the shot reads right away, the acting, the status and the personalities of both characters Woody and Jessie, without wasting any time in the details of the drawing itself.

Something to keep in mind when planning your shots.
I hope this helps. Have a great week.

Carlos.

ps: Thanks to Kyu-bo Choi for translating this post to Korean:

Simplicity in Planning

ps2: Thanks to Viviane Adade for translating this post to Portuguese:

Simplicidade No Planejamento