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Thread: Giving good criticism

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Giving good criticism

    I'm knew to all the technicalities of art, but I'm wondering how can I leave good criticism behind that would be helpful to other artists? Or does that only come after having attained a certain amount of experience??
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    Just say what you like/don't like about the piece. In fact sometimes it's better to just get a normal opinion. My best crits come from my non-artist wife.
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    I agree with shorinji_knight, it's sometimes really valuable to just get a normal person to say what they like and dislike about a piece. I get a lot more out of those comments than when beginners try to suggest improvements, because they usually forget to tell what actually made them not like something in the first place. So it can be really hard to try to dissect those comments to find out what was wrong with the piece. Really valuable points I like to hear are if you are connecting with the story of the piece, or if something is taking your attention away from it. Just hearing if the first thought that goes through your head is "oh cool battle" or "that shiny battleaxe is really pretty" because if it's the latter I know the storytelling and or composition have failed. So just going through points that grab your attention will be a big help for me to judge whether the piece is working like I'd want it to work. If something about the piece is making you uncomfortable, but you don't know why, just say that, it really helps.
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    Whatever you say, don't say 'Shut up and draw' or 'Go learn your fundamentals' or 'Draw more things'. They are the most unhelpful and completely fucking obvious comments you can give.


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    non artist crits imo only matter if its important to you, if THAT person likes your picture. tastes differ, so it doesnt even tell you, if others would or wouldnt like it.

    its a whole lot different if you get crit from a professional, who can tell you how to actually make it better from a design point of view. knowing what to say only comes with experience and expertise.
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    I'll have to side with sone_one here. Obviously any criticism you get has the potential of being useful in some way, but that potential is a lot bigger if the crit comes from a pro or at least someone who's skills are more refined than yours.
    Personally I have found that there are mainly two types of crits "laymen" (meaning non-artists) give; either they overall like the piece and offer praise or they don't like the piece and try to explain why. Usually those explanations aren't very useful at all because they lack the knowledge and expertise to eplain why something works or doesn't work. What you'll get (at least that's my personal experience) in that case are laboured and "nitpicky" criticisms that often have a good intention but don't really help you in any way. A pro will tell you what is wrong with your overall design/composition/narration wheres a layman will tell you that they think some detail is wrong.

    Long story short, when you receive crits from laymen always be careful if that crit is technical in nature. If they had anything useful to say about that aspect they wouldn't be laymen.
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    If you can't draw and paint with any ability why would you want to critique other peoples work? Out of boredom? An uninformed opinion is not only useless but annoying. As for telling people they need the fundamentals and to draw more that is the best advice you can give if you understand what you are talking about and they really need it. The fact that most people ignore that advice is evident just looking through the sketchbooks and WIP's on this site. Those are the people least likely to ever work as professional artists. I am happy to continue the practice to save the 1% or so who will take it to heart.
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    If you don't know enough to judge the technical aspects of a piece, don't even try - you'll most likely end up giving garbled non-advice, or you'll just sound pretentious.

    I don't find "crits" from beginners or non-artists very useful. What I DO find useful is gut reactions.

    If, for instance, I draw a comic page and the reactions of casual readers are along the lines of "Ooh, what's gonna happen next!? NOOO don't let him get killed! OMG, that must've hurt!" then I know I probably did something right. If their reactions are more along the lines of "What's going on? I'm confused. Where did that guy come from all of a sudden?" then I have a hint that something isn't working.

    What is NOT useful is someone painstakingly trying to write a "critique" when they don't actually have anything to say or don't know what they're talking about, but think for some reason that they should write one of these critique-thingies.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beeston View Post
    Whatever you say, don't say 'Shut up and draw' or 'Go learn your fundamentals' or 'Draw more things'. They are the most unhelpful and completely fucking obvious comments you can give.
    To someone who constantly seeks attention by discussing their fears and justifying procrastination on the forums, instead of simply practicing, "Shut up and draw" is a proper and necessary response - their problem is not with the drawing technicalities.

    To someone who is naively copying contour drawings from anime without understanding the method behind constructing such drawing, and deludedly thinking that they are doing it right, "Go learn your fundamentals" is a proper and necessary response - their problem is not with the drawing technicalities.

    To someone who keeps redrawing the same stale face in every character and botches drawing everyday objects due to reluctance to do research, "Draw more things" is a proper and necessary response - their problem is not with the drawing technicalities.

    In other words, the answer can only be helpful or unhelpful in context, not as an absolute. And a lot of times, something obvious to you is far from obvious to another - if their mistake was obvious to them, they would correct it on their own and not ask questions here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    If you can't draw and paint with any ability why would you want to critique other peoples work? Out of boredom? An uninformed opinion is not only useless but annoying. As for telling people they need the fundamentals and to draw more that is the best advice you can give if you understand what you are talking about and they really need it. The fact that most people ignore that advice is evident just looking through the sketchbooks and WIP's on this site. Those are the people least likely to ever work as professional artists. I am happy to continue the practice to save the 1% or so who will take it to heart.
    Actually, it often happens that someone's skill in making things lags behind their awareness of such things. So they can see a mistake even if you think they personally aren't that skilled. (My understanding of the method usually runs ahead of my ability to use it - a consequence of me being rather analytical in my approach.)

    There is also the effect of a fresh look. We are staring at our own work for so long, we overlook things that could be obvious to the next random person to look at the picture for the first time. (I once spent an hour carefully drawing a character who, inexplicably, had two right hands. It was years ago, but I still remember the embarrassment.) So any fresh eye can do good. You can take a break from the picture for a few days, or you can ask someone to be your spotter for a moment.

    Many people who take up drawing aren't even aware that a systematic method of doing it exist. They either try to copy cartoon lines without knowing how to construct them, or try to copy photos ad lib. The situation is not helped by the slew of "how to draw" books on the market and tutorials on the net which are actually showing how to copy, not draw. And if such a habit is established, it takes very determined work to break it and self-enforce the proper method. (I learned to draw haphazardly like that, and as a result I still lapse into symbolic drawing if I am not careful enough. And I've been working systematically for years!)

    Though yes, practicing the fundamentals is something that should be done regardless of experience. It's a good way to keep in artistic shape.
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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    I once spent an hour carefully drawing a character who, inexplicably, had two right hands. It was years ago, but I still remember the embarrassment.
    Ha, I've done that. That, and continuity errors (somebody has a bandage on their right arm on page one, suddenly it's moved to the left arm on page two, sort of thing...) Once I spent ages carefully painting a figure's bare feet and didn't notice I'd given them six toes until I stepped back for a longer view.

    So yeah, any casual spotter is great for that sort of thing. Your mom. Your roommate. Whoever's around, doesn't matter.

    What's not so great is if your mom (or whoever) starts saying things like "I don't like purple, I think it should be green," then you have to tell them to GTFO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    What's not so great is if your mom (or whoever) starts saying things like "I don't like purple, I think it should be green," then you have to tell them to GTFO.
    Yeah seen that with pros and clients (which well you kinda have to follow too). It's the nature of the beast.
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    It is not easy to offer good critique and advice...but even harder to receive it and understand.

    I value two types of critique or observation of my work...the "gut reaction" that Queenie mentioned from collectors or viewers...and at the other end of things the critial analysis of my work from a technical standpoint by my peers. Everything else is just sort of "noise" and gets in the way...I see it all the time here. It can actually be detrimental in many ways or at best just useless.

    For 95% of the beginners seeking critique here, contrary to Beeston's opinion, the best advice is to "draw more and focus on fundamentals"...because that is the best advice for all of us. For people who can't figure out what that means their path in art will be short and filled with confusion.
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