Graphic Design Terms: Thumbnails, Roughs and Comps

Graphic designer sketching design by hand and digitally

For design beginners, the immense number of graphic design terms may seem overwhelming. However, each term has a special meaning that it is important to understand, as doing so will help you grow in your design skills.

Three crucial graphic design terms that you should know when developing your designs or working with clients are thumbnail, rough and comp. Keep reading to discover what they are.

What are Graphic Design Thumbnails?

Creating thumbnails is one of the first steps to developing designs. Thumbnails are small, quick design ideas that a graphic designer sketches. Thumbnailing helps designers to get their ideas out and allows them to hone in on particular concepts that they want to work on further.

In a way, thumbnailing is similar to a brainstorming session with design. It is common practice for a designer to have many thumbnails filling pages of their sketch book or digital paper, so that there is more to work with later.

What are Graphic Design Roughs?

After a graphic designer has created a range of thumbnails, they have what they need to begin creating roughs. The designer choses which thumbnails they believe have the most potential. Once they have been chosen, the artist then sketches more detailed and larger versions known as roughs.

Because the designer has narrowed down the number of thumbnails to advance to rough ideas, they do not have as many roughs as thumbnails. However, there are still several of them, and they allow designers to continue developing their ideas.

What are Graphic Design Comps?

The creation of comprehensions, also known as comps, is another step in a designer’s process. Comps are even further refined and developed than roughs. The body copy, images and fonts may be shown as they would appear in the final full-sized design. A designer may have one comp for a project or a designer may choose to create several comps based upon their roughs.

A comp is often sent to the client. The client can then see how the designer is laying out the design. Once the designer and client are satisfied with the comp, the designer can start on their final product.

How to Learn More About Graphic Design

The best way to learn more about graphic design and graphic design terms is to pursue a design degree. These degrees help aspiring creators learn how to develop their craft and be successful in the design world. Here are some design degree options:

Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Graphic Design Degree

A BA degree in Advertising and Graphic Design is the perfect degree for those who want to develop knowledge and skills that can benefit them and lead to a graphic design career. From design concepts to advertising strategies, this program prepares students for the career world. Some design courses and topics in this program include:

  • Design Thinking
  • Digital Photography I
  • Designing with Type
  • Web Design I
  • Media Law and Ethics

Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Animation Degree

A BA degree in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Animation gives students the tools to succeed as a digital designer while focusing on 2-D and 3-D animation concepts. Courses in this program include:

  • Drawing for the Visual Arts
  • 2D Animation Design
  • Sculpture
  • 3-D Animation and the Mechanics of Motion
  • Business for the Design Professional

Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Web Design

A BA degree in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Web Design is a degree designed to help students secure jobs as web designers. This degree is worth considering by anyone who is interested in UX or UI web design. Some of the classes in this degree program include:

  • User Experience Design
  • Content Management Systems
  • Web Applications
  • Designing with Motion Graphics
  • Designing for New Technologies

To learn more about Grand Canyon University and our Performing Arts and Digital Arts degree programs, click on the Request Info button at the top of your screen. You can also check out more GCU blogs to learn more about a variety of topics.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.