I found several quick thumbs from some scenes I've animated in the past to share in case it helps. I wanted to go over how doing thumbnails can be such a quick and cheap way of getting ideas out there from a planning stand point.

I found thumbnails particularly useful when:

  • - fast planning

  • - sketching ideas/thoughts

  • - creating a shot road map

  • - figuring out a shot

  • - figuring out a sequence

  • - planning of continuity

  • - work out pose/shape ideas

  • - figure out key images

  • - work out key shot poses

  • - brainstorming

Thumbnails should work for you and your workflow. I see them as a great complement to doing video reference. If you can't draw or are intimidated by it, simple stick figures will do. My drawings tend to be very basic, almost unintelligible in some cases. But the point is for me to get ideas on paper fast and quick. They don't have to be pretty. It almost doesn't matter if no one else in the world understands what's happening in your thumbnails. They just have to HELP YOU AND YOUR SHOT.

Note: If you have the chance it does help to take life drawing classes, or get books, or go out there and draw people outside as much as you can. The thumbs above are rough Rataouille thumbnails. On my case, this level of roughness combined with video reference was enough to plan the shot quickly.

Sometimes to get to know a character it helps to do as many quick thumbs of different poses as you can to UNDERSTAND A CHARACTER'S PERSONALITY. Even just to rough out the visual shapes. For the movie Ratatouille, I did skinner thumbs that consisted on just a squared body/head, small legs and a giant hat. My main purpose was to figure out how much I could get away with those three elements from a shape stand point. Then I would start experimenting and trying different things. This is well before even jumping on the computer.

As in the previous thumbs from The Incredibles, I used these quick drawings to find KEY images of a shot in hopes to have the audience remember the essence of the shot from specific key poses somehow. I'm not thinking will the drawing be accurate with the pose, but instead is it staying true to both the character and the shot. Also, is it entertaining enough just from a pose stand point or can it be pushed even more.

Quick thumbs are great also for brainstorming different areas. These don't only apply to the character itself. These below were used to explain the character rigger WHAT IS NEEDED from an animation stand point.

I included below a link to some of these Rataouille animated scenes I did where I used thumbnails for reference.

NOTE: I was only responsible for animating Skinner. Not the other characters, except for the kitchen scene where the other cooks are arguing among them, where I also animated the chars of Mustafa and Horst as well as the character of Linguini in the hat shots inside the kitchen.

 I have also found thumbs to be a simple/fast way to have something to always come back to in case an idea, a thought, or even a simple gesture note was forgotten. I think of them as a ROAD MAP. Something I put on the wall as I'm animating a shot or a sequence. I'm always going back to this, and adding to it, deleting stuff, show it to other animators to explain what I'm going to try, etc. When it comes to planning whatever it is that helps you works. The following are notes from the film Cars.

Lastly, I've also used these quick thumbs to figure out general SEQUENCE NOTES. What's the point of each shot, composition ideas, notes from story or layout, etc. Below also from the movie Cars.

I included below a link of this Cars scene where I used the above thumbs for reference.

NOTE: I was only responsible for animating Guido in this sequence. Not the other characters, except for the character of Mcqueen in the quick tire change shot.

Planning and thumbnails both have been great tools for me. I hope this was useful. Have a great week.