There is a lot of sketching and working our of ideas in cross stitch design. Unlike embroidery, where you can get lines and curves to go which ever way you want, cross stitch is necessarily restricted to what can be achieved in a grid. What I see in my head as a design needs to be transposed into these limitations.
Sometimes it works right away and sometimes it take a bit if figuring.
Like these little snails.
I started out with just straight full stitches because I like my charts to be simple and usable in any type of fabric. Fractional stitches, I find, are only really successful in even weave. They tend to be awkward in aida. I try to avoid using a lot of them and employ back stitching to add further detail.
You can see here that one of the snails looks OK with out the fractional stitches and I think on a small scale will be recognisable as a snail. It was a little more difficult to come up with a convincing shape when I tried to get the snail to go over an edge or up a hill.
I don't always avoid the fractional stitches. They do make the design more tidy. It depends on what I want to achieve with a particular piece. Charts without the half stitches tend to be more rustic and that isn't always what I am going for.
Do you prefer using fractional stitches to get finer detail in a chart? Or do you like a more rustic look?
Sometimes the trick with cross stitch design is to take a step back. Up close it does look very abstract but when reduced to a small thread count the design will resolve into a more pleasing and less abstract looking representation.