Getting the most out of critique
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    Getting the most out of critique

    Here's a few pointers on how to get the most out of critique you receive:

    1) Analyze whether you agree, disagree or even understand the critique. See how it relates to the work or your approach and development in general.

    2) Consider or verify the source of the critique...particularly if you do not agree with it or it seems confusing. If their work is pretty decent then pay attention, if not then disregard if you don't agree. But always be considerate, polite and thank them. Conflicting critique or advice should definitely be checked out. Some people know what they're talking about, others don't...simply check to see who is who.

    3) Ask for clarification if you don't quite understand a point, but try to be specific, and ask only after you've done some research and checked any references offered. Try to study and understand the points of the critique on your own first.

    4) Follow through...do your best to follow through on the critique you feel is most valid. If someone says you should work with simple forms and shapes to understand value better, by gosh, do some drawings along those lines and post them up. Don't just keep banging away at your "vampire knight mounted on a flying armored dragon"...or, you know, whatever. It is very frustrating to offer sound, carefully considered critique to someone who simply ignores it. Basically it means you will no longer receive valuable critique from that individual.

    5) Don't make excuses...excuses mean you are not ready for critique and the effort required to improve.

    6) If someone recommends a book or resource, get it. It is recommended because it will help you with your development. If this is not an option, you aren't ready for critique.

    7) Don't ask for "tips, tricks or techniques". There aren't any. At least there aren't any someone else can tell you and have you understand. Tips, tricks and techniques are what you develop on your own and they contribute to your own style and expression. They are too subtle, individual and tied to the media and hand skills to be able to communicate easily.

    8) In general, if you are not willing or ready to follow advice and critique, don't bother asking.

    9) Be aware that what may at first seem like harsh critique is still intended to help, or shake you up, or break through all the BS you may have heard. Accept it in the spirit intended.

    10) Keep working hard! But work effectively...

    We now resume your regularly scheduled forum...

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    Last edited by JeffX99; April 15th, 2011 at 02:01 PM. Reason: forgot image...again...
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    There are two big problems with your work:

    - The inane text that doesn't seem to belong anywhere but just seems tacked on. Not very stylish!

    - The triangle and the ball is in completely different styles, try adding some amount of shading to it, to make your composition and what you want to communicate even clearer! \s

    Good post and points. Sticky this pls.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaEvil1 View Post
    There are two big problems with your work:

    - The inane text that doesn't seem to belong anywhere but just seems tacked on. Not very stylish!

    - The triangle and the ball is in completely different styles, try adding some amount of shading to it, to make your composition and what you want to communicate even clearer! \s

    Good post and points. Sticky this pls.
    Thanks! Yeah, that's probably why I got a B on this assignment as I recall! I wanted to use it though because people may find it hard to believe, but this was the first assignment in Advanced Heads and Hands II at the Academy of Art. That's right. A sphere. I got a B and the instructor mentioned I probably shouldn't use White China marker for highlights as it is grease based. He was right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Thanks! Yeah, that's probably why I got a B on this assignment as I recall! I wanted to use it though because people may find it hard to believe, but this was the first assignment in Advanced Heads and Hands II at the Academy of Art. That's right. A sphere. I got a B and the instructor mentioned I probably shouldn't use White China marker for highlights as it is grease based. He was right.
    Heh! That's kind of surprising. I suppose it just goes to show just how important the basic shapes and it's interplay with the surroundings really are in art.

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    Jeff,

    You really didn't try and push the values of the ball. The inherent color of the ball is the same as the background which almost flattens out the object, except for the dark shadow.

    Oh, and there's all this text above it that REALLY doesn't add to the overall study itself.



    Edit: and here's a good example of someone who knows how to take a critique and work from it-
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=218499

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
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    I know OS - I was trying to explain my theoretical understanding of the sphere via my Jungian connection to the sub-conscious Id. The sphere doesn't really exist at all...only my dreams of the sphere.

    Edit: And yes Omen - that is an excellent example of a solid critique thread and the effort to improve. Good job mina - and everyone helping.

    Last edited by JeffX99; April 15th, 2011 at 08:48 PM. Reason: Adding...
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    Hey that's my thread I am really lucky to be receiving so much help from everyone in it. I had been drawing everything blindly for so long just from a few random tutorials and imagination, I never really sought after critique until recently. I used to just throw out anything I tried to draw that confused or frustrated me. So I really can't understand when people post here and just dismiss all the useful critique they receive... I know some people are sensitive about their work but I have never seen a post in a critique thread that wasn't helpful and constructive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    I know OS - I was trying to explain my theoretical understanding of the sphere via my Jungian connection to the sub-conscious Id. The sphere doesn't really exist at all...only my dreams of the sphere.
    Tssss, next thing you're gonna claim that it's an abstract piece to be excempt from having to improve composition, contrasts and lightplay!

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    I know OS - I was trying to explain my theoretical understanding of the sphere via my Jungian connection to the sub-conscious Id. The sphere doesn't really exist at all...only my dreams of the sphere.
    It all makes sense now... But I didn't see it without your explanation. You need to express this all with visual tools only, without additional text, you know.
    The picture itself should tell the story!
    {Besides, a sphere of dreams should use some more colors in my opinion. But I understand our dreams differ...}
    But it's a really nice start

    Oh, that topic Nice example, people often abandon their painting after receiving crits, I don't know why. Well, in some cases critics persuade them they should study the basics instead... There are some not very soft critics here but I must say they are usually right.

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    *Bump*



    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director
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    Hi guys

    I feel the need for my soapbox, sorry!

    This is a really good thread to put up, because in my opinion, there are an awful lot of people posting on here that just seem to want you to blow sunshine up them and take them to a happy place where they are admired and loved by all who dare gaze upon them and thier work. Instead they get a bit of critisism and go on the attack, and its suddenly personal and not helpful to anyone!

    All I can say is if thats what you want "loads of smiles and pats on the back" then show your work to your aunties and uncles and other family members that love you and will spare your delicate sensibilities.

    In here you get a damn sight more positive information and solid feedback that can sometimes be described as a bit harsh. Sometimes they even tell you to bin the work and start again, go back to the beginning with the fundamentals.

    But look at it this way, if you want to work in the illustration industry, go freelance and get paid commisions, take a shot at a book illustractor job or whatever then the critisism youre gonna get are going to be a lot more harsh. These people are running a business and they want more bang for their bucks. Also some will want concorde standard work from you but are willing only to pay bus fare, this is a hard business where people want to make as much money as they can, as do you.

    To get the good money jobs you need to be very good at this game, and more importantly you need a thick skin to take the hits, then pick yourself up and go and do better!

    To answer shiNIN's point
    " people often abandon their painting after receiving crits, I don't know why. Well, in some cases critics persuade them they should study the basics instead... "
    These people get disheartened and give up for a great many reasons the crits from here might be the last straw. For example my own family said to me way back in the day "theres no future and no money in such childishness" and "go and get a propper job that pays" and so for years I stopped drawing and built mixing desks and recording studio equipment, and hated myself!

    Thats just me though it might just be that some people have bigger dreams than abilities, I dont know. But I do know that there are always going to be people who hate your work and will tell you so in no uncertain terms, citisism is a part of life and you need to find a better way of dealing with it than goind to your room and having a sulk!

    I agree whole heartedly with you shiNIN There are some hard critics here but I must say they are usually right. but it wouldnt hurt to try and sugar coat it a bit!

    Look at jeffs points 1 - 10 above, print them out and stick them over the monitor and learn from your crits and mistakes.

    See you on the road to understanding guys and thanks.

    Last edited by Lightship69; May 14th, 2011 at 09:06 AM.
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    I feel the need to add a comment here( and therefore bump this up to the top .)

    On the topic of harsh critique I know it sucks to hear people rip your stuff to shreds but it's easier for people to tell you what you're doing wrong as oppose to praising what is right. The flaws always jump out way more than the well executed parts of something. It's just the way people see things.

    Besides if I point out your strengths and you continue to focus on those. What good is that?

    So a harsh critique or being told you lack certain skills doesn't mean you're a failure it just means that your work has some weaknesses that need to be worked on and sometimes they can't be improved by continuing with the questioned piece, they come from your process of construction and knowledge of art. I try to be as nice as I can giving people critique but there's only so many ways you can sweeten the bitter truth.


    Just know that everybody who has strong art skills has gotten them by listening to the criticism of their peers and by working through their weaknesses.

    Last edited by wooden mango; May 17th, 2011 at 12:43 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wooden mango View Post
    On the topic of harsh critique I know it sucks to hear people rip your stuff to shreds but it's easier for people to tell you what you're doing wrong as oppose to praising what is right. The flaws always jump out way more than the well executed parts of something. It's just the way people see things.
    i object to that wholeheartedly. seeing flaws and the ability to put it into words is a matter of knowledge, and not something people inherit.

    i actually see no need in praising the good parts... that they aint mentioned in the critique could aswell be taken as praise... writing critique and input is an effort that in itself can be considered praise/respect imo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sone_one View Post
    writing critique and input is an effort that in itself can be considered praise/respect imo.
    Totally! Having no interest whatsoever in your work is way worse.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sone_one View Post
    i object to that wholeheartedly. seeing flaws and the ability to put it into words is a matter of knowledge, and not something people inherit.

    i actually see no need in praising the good parts... that they aint mentioned in the critique could aswell be taken as praise... writing critique and input is an effort that in itself can be considered praise/respect imo.
    Certainly it takes knowledge to give someone a critique, whether or not it is harsh or based on observed flaws. It tends to be why I don't usually comment on things like backgrounds or architecture. I don't know enough to recognize what is and isn't working. But I guess what I'm saying is more that it's in people's nature to notice what is not working rather than what is. More people babble and rant on the bad or abnormal things that happen in their workday then the normal or good things.

    So basically I'm not say that harsh critique is easier to give. But that to the knowledgeable eye flaws are what stand out more.

    and then ofcourse the fact that giving you praise or positive critique is not actually helpful to progress.

    Does that make more sense?

    Last edited by wooden mango; May 17th, 2011 at 12:54 PM. Reason: spelling and grammar errors
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    I met different opinions about praising in CC. I usually don't praise (not because I don't see good points), unless I really like the work in question (or I feel it makes my crits more clear, for example, the idea/setting/design is cool but everything else isn't), I saw most people do the same. It may be harsh for a beginner but CC works this way, one bring stuff here to make it better and for this, one need to know what's not right and as soon as possible. Sketchbooks are nicer places but their purpose is totally different and the comments often aren't thorough or "useful" just pats on the head. Most little artists need such things as well

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    I like positive reinforcement. Not ass pats mind you, just like... letting me know that something I did IS working. It helps me to not second guess, especially with new territory

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    I agree with that Pezzle. Positive notes are always nice and they give me encouragement on days where I am frustrated. I find that I get them in my sketchbook. It's the place where people get to see improvement and the hard work that I put into getting better.

    I think it's just the nature of this particularly area of the forum that causes criticism to be mostly negative. People often start their threads saying "I need help" or "what can I improve" and where people need to improve is on the areas that do not work.

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    Positive notes are nice, but personally I'd rather people have natural reactions. If something sucks, it sucks, if something stands out as impressive, it should be noted too - the two reactions aren't mutually exclusive. Sometimes people draw things that have spectacular composition ideas but shoddy anatomy, or vice versa, or any other combination of bad traits and good traits. It's definitely nice to hear what you're good at, but at the same time, it's probably more helpful to hear what needs improving.

    Good critique is a skill separate from drawing skill, although it's awesome when people have both. Still, you don't have to be a chef to know when you're served badly cooked food.

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    I personally tend to dislike praises even in my SB... I mean the ones I totally don't feel I deserve. If I see something is wrong on so many levels, no one should say they are nice But I understand it's very hard to have more critical eyes than me, regarding my own stuff... There are so nice diversity even in personality and attitude of people, isn't this great

    Critic and drawing skills... They have some connection. If our knowledge is better, we spot more flaws and maybe we know what exactly the problem is and offer some advice how to solve/fix it
    I guess being better at drawing must make us better at giving crits and vice versa, but the correlation isn't that very strong, even a beginner can be very helpful. I have a flaw-spotting eye (or two), I'm not always sure if it's a curse or a blessing... But I met some people who seemed to be completely blind for their own flaws. It's scary... I can't imagine that. It must disappear if someone keep drawing and studying, right..?
    Of course, being a good critic requires different other skills.

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    I feel that people underestimate the importance of positive encouragement, even in critique. dA is ridiculed for this in particular which is understandable, because on dA the praise heavily outweighs the useful critiques. That doesn't take away the fact that if it weren't for dA, I wouldn't be here, because nobody in real life would support me in what I was doing and found that I should look for a "real" job. If it weren't for the praise, the support and the encouragement, I may well have given up.

    I know this really only applies to young artists, as a more advanced and/or professional artist will not need the praise as much to know that they're headed in a right direction, since they've learned so from experience. But for a young or starting artist, it is never a bad thing to "sandwich" critique with positivity, or the other way around. It not necessarily needed, but it's not useless or "bad" either.

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    Great discussion guys. I tend to agree with all of you in one way or another. To me the effort that goes into a critique/response is the actual validation (praise) that there is somehting worth commenting on...or there is some advice the OP hasn't heard and would be advised to follow.

    I actually try to mention strengths in work and offer some positive alonbg with the critique. But just as it is human nature to point out the bad, it is also human nature to skip over the positive comment. People frequently react defensively to my observations but never seem to notice I also said, "decent concept" or whatever.

    That said however, the majority of work posted here lacks any understanding at all and with such limited experience and awareness the OP will just not understand any thorough critique.

    But yeah, I like positive strokes as well...but I give more weight to both critique and positive reinforcement from those with more experience...though any praise is nice of course. I'll try to offer more "what is working" comments in future critique.

    Thanks for starting off this round of discussion miss mango!

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    Haha, no problem Jeff. I really wasn't expecting it to get so much discussion. But it's good.

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    Since there's been a bit of a flurry lately, and a discussion on taking criticism in Art Discussion...just wanted to add a couple things.

    1 - Feel free to continue commenting here...(thanks to whichever mod made it a sticky btw!) just because it became a sticky doesn't mean it is carved in stone. There have been a lot of views since then but no comments.

    2 - I feel that the best critique is an honest critique. Why would you ever want a critique that was not direct and to the point and addressed the main issues in either a single piece, your approach or what you need to work on to improve? I just don't see the value in beating around the bush or not facing the main issues and challenges.

    OK! Carry on!

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    As someone who just stumbled onto this site after posting on one of the other digital art sites, I must say that I appreciate the mature atmosphere in this WIP forum. There seems to be a healthy culture which pushes people to be their best, without any quarter shown to the self-absorption and arrogance so prevalent among many artists.

    If you will forgive me for waxing philosophical a bit, it seems to me that the best art flowers when there is a conviction that there is indeed objective reality (however much our own perspectives may shape our access to it) - that we can say real things about the real world, and that there really is such a thing as beauty and integrity that rises above mere sentiment and subjectivity. The artistic vision must submit to truth and beauty - and any pig-headed resistance to this is unmasked as a type of narcissism. Art is indeed an expression of one's self - but it is every bit as much a humble journey of the soul stepping beyond one's self into the real - the true, the good, and the beautiful - and letting openness to that reality change who we are and what we express. In a word, the best art is an act of love - a love that is dedicated to what the subject truly is, and not just the initial impression of it.

    As I said, forgive my wading into philosophy. As far as the question of whether to hold back in critique, and whether you should always say something nice - I guess my take is that there's a difference in how something is said and what is said. I'm reminded of my wife's southern Appalachian grandmother, who feels absolute impunity to say anything she thinks at all - as long as it is preceded by a "bless her heart". "Now Mary sure tries, bless her heart, but she really can't sing worth a nickle." "Grandma! How can you say that?" "Well darlin', I said 'bless her heart', didn't I?" My thought is that criticism is very very welcome - it is actually a real gift - but there's nothing wrong with being gentlemanly and polite about it.

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  33. #26
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    Edit: sorry about the double post there. Not sure how I managed that.

    Last edited by thegiffman; June 13th, 2011 at 12:18 PM. Reason: double post
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    As one of those "young artists" who was unable to take critiques last time I posted my art, I agree with pretty much everything that's been said so far. The shift from a more casual art forum to CA was a hard one--one that I just couldn't cope with at 16.

    Now that I've had some experience in the "real world" I realize just how immature I was back then. I've gone through two jobs, one seasonal, one I had to quit due to severe injury just recently. I hated them both. They were boring and dead-end: neither would pay for even the cheapest of colleges.

    If it means doing something I love for a living, I'll gladly accept even the harshest of critiques. I might be discouraged at first because my brain is still in adolescence and even though I see exactly what the critic means, the "motivation" part of my brain doesn't process it right.

    To all those who critiqued me in the past, thank you very much. I'm sorry I didn't take your critiques to heart at the time. Shinin, I remember you, in particular, as being one of the most helpful. Extra thanks to you. And extra apologies for letting you down.

    This thread is good. I'm gonna put the 10 tips into a picture and set it as my desktop background.

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  35. #28
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    This is a pretty good set of guidelines. I do have to disagree here on one point here:
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    2) Consider or verify the source of the critique...particularly if you do not agree with it or it seems confusing. If their work is pretty decent then pay attention, if not then disregard if you don't agree.
    People of all levels can and many do, have sound judgment, keen perception and knowledge and understanding that goes beyond their actual artistic ability, or what they are putting down on paper, or canvas. An outsider . or non-artist can sometimes offer a great critique, in a simple straightforward way (i.e., the hands look too big, the nose doesn't line up with the rest of the face, etc.)
    On the other side of that coin, I have seen critiques by exceptionally skilled individuals who give absolutely horrible critiques.
    Critiquing is a skill. To do it well, it takes practice. I've also found that I learn almost as much from critiquing as from sketching. You critique from personal experience. That means somewhere down the line you probably ran into the very obstacle the subject of your critique has, and solved it.
    As long as the critique is designed to help the individual, I would encourage people of all levels to do it...and that means even if that person is much more skilled than you are. Remember you as the person offering the critique are trying to help someone, not stroke your ego, or show off your superior knowledge.
    I don't mean to nit-pick, it's just an observation, and a difference of opinion.

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    JeffX99 is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
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    I agree with your observation zombifried. That is a bit of a quick bullet point item and deserves more explanation. That point mainly concerns technique critique rather than general observation or feedback, which can be valuable from any source. My wife is one of my main sounding boards and not an artist at all. When it comes to technical critique and advice though, I stand by the point, and of course I had a bit of a disclaimer built in that you can disregard the information if you don't agree...and their work is not at a very high level.

    Really I was trying to get at two things there. At some point it becomes necessary for the one seeking/receiving critique to be able to gauge the validity of the critique or advice offered (or at least they should analyze and judge the validity of the critique). The best way to do that is gauge it against the experience and results of the one offering the critique.

    The other aspect is a bit more subtle. That is gauging the validity of the critique especially when you don't quite grasp it. If you have someone at a really high level telling you something...even if you don't agree you better figure out why and how. A lot of times you hear things that just don't quite make sense...yet, but by trying to understand them we grow. We still may disagree with someone's observation, but at least we understand why.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment! Hope that explained the point more thoroughly.

    Lastly, and I guess it should have been in the OP...a critique is just one observation. It isn't the end, or a final statement, or a major judgment...just an observation. One should be creating enough work so that a critique on one piece doesn't shatter our ego or derail our progress. Critique should be looked at as providing a bit of direction on the journey.

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    Well said.

    ~zombifried

    "Try not. Do or do not!! There is no try"
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