“Solving problems with pictures isn’t new. It’s what we’ve always done,” says visual thinking expert Dan Roam. Since well before humans invented writing, we drew pictures to communicate. Though many people are unaccustomed to using drawing as a communication tool, it is truly a natural way to explore ideas, build understanding, and tell stories.
Thumbnail Sketching asks you to utilize your inherent creativity by drawing pictures as a way to rapidly generate a number of ideas. The act of sketching promotes a natural cycle of creativity that supports concept ideation—you externalize what’s in your mind, and then, upon seeing your idea visualized, you think of variants, and so on. And since the goal is simply to get the ideas out of your head and onto paper quickly, thumbnail sketches should be small, gestural, and general. This process forces you to explore many different ideas rather than work out the details of any one concept. Don’t worry if your sketches aren’t pretty—just get your hand moving!