For half a century, the Vietnamese artists who trained at L'Ecole Superieure des Beaux-Arts de L'Indochine and a few generations that followed all pursued Classicalism and Realism style of painting andregarded research and sketching as unmissable steps in the creative process. When constructing a creative work they usually followed a strict process: capturing the pose, detailed sketching, defining the composition, harmonizing the colours... then working on different mediums oil, lacquer or silk. These sketches were almost labour intensive as the complete works and looking throughthe lifework of these artists one would find that each of them have hundreds or even thousands of sketches/drawings. Perhaps this was the process that was instilled into them by their French teachers but more importantly, in the time of war sketching would have been the best way to draw when situations were not ideal, materials were lacking and both the artist and his subject were constantly on  the move, with no camera to record the visual impression. Nguyen Phan Chanh was no different from these artist and the sketches were a part of his creative heritage. He had many ideas that could have been transformed into larger work from sketches but not the times and the means to do it neither did those artists.

Since the 1980s to now, many artists work directly on a particular medium/material and no longer sketch. Sketching and rough drawing help the artist to explore the composition and the form including the positioning of the model or the subject. The sketches that Nguyen Phan Chanh left behind were very systematic and for that reason they were not only significant pointers to the working method of an era but also served as living memories of time past. He had his own cornor and emotional core that was unlike any others'. That cornor was a cornor in a Northern village somewhere, poor but wholesome and peaceful.

In turning a sketch into a full scaled painting Nguyen Phan Chanh also had his own predilection. He did not unfailing follow the sketch but opted to enhance the dignity of his subjects. The creased, torn clothes tended to be in better conditions and freshened with brighter colours, the worried, careworn expression replaced with a more serence look. Just by moving a brushstroke or a colour block a little, the essence of the character was subtly changed. The fact that such significant impact could come from a relatively small adjustment underlines the finesse of silk but it is also true that just by adopting a softer material that required less severe techniques, the artist had already romaticised the daily life to a certain extent.