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    Question Sketchbook and critiques

    I wanted to hear your opinion about the sketchbook area here on Concept Art but first let me clarify my thoughts.

    I just spent a whole lot of time scanning images and updating my sketchbook yesterday and today and it came back to me why I havn't done so in a long time. The input I have recieved has been scarse and far between and sometimes it just does'nt feel like it is worth the time and effort. (Now before you think so, no I'm not looking for asspats or attention.)

    Looking at plenty of other sketchbooks I notice that the majority of them doesn't seem to have many visitors either, so I was wondering...

    Are there simply to many sketchbooks so that individual ones get lost?
    Is it difficult for people to find anything relevant to comment on in sketchbooks?
    (Personally I tend to write most of my critique and input in the WIP section.)
    Or do people only look for sketchbooks threads with gold stars maybe?

    What are your own thoughts on the matter? Both on what kind of sketchbooks you are interested in and how you look at your own sketchbook thread.
    Do you post in it to get input or do you use it to keep track of your progress? Do you have any ideas to get more people to look at it besides the most obvious to post real often?

    Thank you.

    Last edited by Frida Bergholtz; January 11th, 2013 at 06:37 PM.
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    Well, unless your work is really good(actually in my opinion your art is pretty good), in order to get people to post in your sketchbook you should really post in other people's sketchbooks(and it seems you do get a good amount of posts). I don't know what to critique on your work, it all looks really solid. Generally people that have better standing in their art get less critique in their sketchbooks, versus somebody who could benefit more from critique. So if you push yourself harder to try to do things better, maybe you'd get more critiques. Why? Well, there could potentially be more holes in your knowledge if you push yourself and do new things you've never tried before. Basically, critique will happen if people find holes in your knowledge and they want to help fill them with you. But if there's no holes to be seen, where will the insightful critique come from?

    Basically, if you take the time to post in someones sketchbook, they will post in yours as well. Also I post a lot in sketchbooks where my skill level is similar to there's because we will be able to connect better and possibly build rapport.

    Last edited by Ryan Provenzano; January 11th, 2013 at 06:42 PM. Reason: additional info, wanted to add some stuff
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nexuun View Post
    Well, unless your work is really good, in order to get people to post in your sketchbook you should really post in other people's sketchbooks. Basically, if you take the time to post in someones sketchbook, they will post in yours as well. Also I post a lot in sketchbooks where my skill level is similar to there's because we will be able to connect better and possibly build rapport.
    Yes that is of course the obvious answer. My problem is that I rarely think that I have something useful to say in sketchbook threads. Perhaps I feel like I have to make some especially insightful comment on the artists general development instead of just focusing on just one aspect. It is a whole lot easier to think of something helpful to say about a single picture or a project.

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    I treat my sketchbook as a record of my own progress. I get replies and advice/support etc, but I don't actively look for it by posting in other people's sketchbooks. The SB section is just too big for me to bother doing that and there are too many threads running into ten and twenty pages. I just havent the concentration or commitment to others' learning curves to trawl through so many pages and still remember what to focus on in my comments at the end of it.

    If I notice someone elsewhere in the forum, I'll check out their sketchbook and maybe stick with them for a while. And If someone posts in my book, I'll return the favour but that's about it as far as my contribution in that area goes. I also spend most of my commenting time in the Critique section because I can focus in on one thing at a time. At least that way, I'll have a decent chance at my comments making sense and/or being relevant and useful to the poster.

    I think a lot of people do use the Sketchbook area to set up friendships and mutual feedback relationships with other posters though, so I don't think my view of it is that common. I guess it's about what you want from it and what you're willing to put in that affects how you experience the place. Horses for course and all that.

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    You put into other people's threads what you want to get back. What you can't do, unless you're absolutely brilliant, is sit back and expect everyone to come to you.


    I didn't think it was possible to be called an artist when you have nothing to say. It's like being a writer who publishes individual words as books and expects to be praised for it.
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    Well, I guess what I personally do is use my sketchbook to collect a mass amount of sketches I do to really see my progress as an artist. I also make a lot of new friends over at the sketchbook area. the sketchbooks I enjoy commenting and helping people who do a lot of less finished sketches and who are grinding to improve as much as I am. While I do enjoy looking at the more brilliant artists sketchbooks I feel as though I have nothing useful to say to them other than the usual which I believe they normally receive a lot of. Another thing I've noticed is that the more active you are posting as well, the more people comment on your work because you will be working so hard that you will just as hard to miss.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kamikazel33t View Post
    Well, I guess what I personally do is use my sketchbook to collect a mass amount of sketches I do to really see my progress as an artist. I also make a lot of new friends over at the sketchbook area. the sketchbooks I enjoy commenting and helping people who do a lot of less finished sketches and who are grinding to improve as much as I am. While I do enjoy looking at the more brilliant artists sketchbooks I feel as though I have nothing useful to say to them other than the usual which I believe they normally receive a lot of. Another thing I've noticed is that the more active you are posting as well, the more people comment on your work because you will be working so hard that you will just as hard to miss.

    Basically everything he said. Id like to also add that you should pay the people who comment in your book a visit and return the favor. Who knows you might become sketchbook buddies !!!
    About the not having something to say bit, you don't always have to critique the whole book. If you got something to say about 1 piece then say it. Also if you see something wrong but you don't know how to critique it but know of a tutorial or a site that can help the person, tell them about that. Or even if you dont see something wrong give them something that's helped you. If people didn't tell me about whats out there I might of never known about cntrl paint, loomis books, hampton, preston etc. Not every comment has to be a critique to be useful and the comments that aren't critique don't have to be "good job". Another sort of comment I like is motivational comments, especially the ones that show that you actually looked at my sketchbook (maybe mentioning something i did a few pages back and how something similar was improved but doing more of x could help blah blah).

    About the star thing. Yes I know people who only visit star sketchbooks. I tend to do the opposite unless its one of my friends or it was recommended that I check it out. They seem to get alot of attention already, my help would probably be more of use somewhere else. Also some of the books are 90% useless comments and 10% art posts. Ive seen people comment "omg i just jizzed all over your sketchbook" Stuff like that steams me. Even if my sketchbook made you ejaculate, please dont tell me about it and if you MUST, please dont put that in my sketchbook! You can come up with something better.

    So yeah. Comment on others if you want comments, then comment back. Thanks people when they've helped you. If you 'cant critique' you can still try to be helpful.

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    A lot of it is networking.

    Don't comment "nice" in people's threads. I'm sure they appreciate that you like something that they do, but you'll have them interested in looking on your own sketchbook if you take some time to either help them out or ask questions.

    It also helps if you're productive and active, that sparks peoples interests. Also, if you're really good, then that will obviously work in your favor.

    Also, as a sidenote. That star system is completely useless and makes no sense to have in an art forum where people try to improve. This isn't a race or a competition. People attention is enough of a reward (just had to say it cause it was mentioned and I felt like pointing this out).

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    Quote Originally Posted by ConnyNordlund View Post
    Also, as a sidenote. That star system is completely useless and makes no sense to have in an art forum where people try to improve. This isn't a race or a competition. People attention is enough of a reward (just had to say it cause it was mentioned and I felt like pointing this out).
    Yes. It's pretty annoying when people show up and overate your thread. Yeah, it's nice you think I'm good, but you put it way too damn high. It's an insult to the people who DO deserve high ratings. I have to go and rate my thread the lowest point to get it closer to something appropriate, but my one vote doesn't do enough.

    It was part of what made me think of starting up a clean slate with a new sketchbook, before regretting that decision.

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    The ratings I don't mind. Because usually it's justified. Some can see it as people weeding out who's good and who's bad. But I don't. Usually people only give stars if it's really good as an indicator to look at this it's inspirational. I don't see many 3 stars and no 2,1 stars. The 5 stars usually just let me know. "Hey this guys really good, look at this shit. It's inspirational". Which is why a lot of people even look through others sketchbooks. For inspiration, seeing how other people learn, their progress etc etc.


    And yes there are those that get a lot of people to vote their thread up maybe for attention or some stupid shit, but who really cares? The people viewing it know what quality something is when they see it, and so does the creator know that he's not at the quality that it says.

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    I just don't like the idea of having art rated. I guess that's just how I feel personally and I can't help but finding it off putting.

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    It's not like the stars and ratings really matter anyway... if anyone's using them as validation they probably shouldn't. It's just a way to find highlights in the sketchbook forum, which can get pretty dense. I like visiting sketchbooks without stars myself anyway because it's nice to see people's journeys not just the amazing awesome stuff.

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    I generally find that if you take the time to comment and give advice in other peoples sketchbooks, theyll take the time to return the favour. Sometimes people don't feel confident to give crits, I know I've been guilty of that as I sometimes feel I don't know enough to leave any useful advice, but I try to leave something useful. While compliments are always nice, I know I'd prefer advice or ways to improve so I try to provide that in my comments. I remember the sketcbook section used to be a lot more populated, your sketchbook would disappear off the first page within five minutes, I dont see the issue with it being too 'populated', I think it has a nice amount of activity and gives sketchbooks a chance to be seen more now.

    With sketchbooks which have many pages, I tend to look a couple of pages back and try to give advice on that, to give more relevant advice and so I can get an idea of how they work so I know what I'm talking about! I also find that giving advice to other people helps me as well, I find myself thinking how the advice I give could be applied to my own work, and if they're doing anything that I could be doing. It's jogged my memory of things I need to do but forgot about too!

    My sketchbook is another place for me to post my work, to record my progress and makes it easier for me to see what my work is lacking. The comments and crits I recieve are a very welcome bonus, as I'm here to improve as well!

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    I actually felt bad about what I said before re not visiting the sketchbook section much. So I'm trying to contribute more. It's a pretty big place and I still feel daunted, but if I keep to the first page and the top few SB's, it's not so bad. I still avoid the longer ones though. Maybe I should just check out the last few pages but that would make me feel guilty so I just leave them alone till I've got more time. That's also a lot to do with having a shitty browser - pages take an age to load.

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    I'm not comfortable critiquing people's sketchbooks. Some people want critique, some don't, and you can't tell until you blunder in and start commenting. Same with Finally Finished -- I figure if you've posted something there, right or wrong, you're pretty happy with it. (The only reason I have a sketchbook myself is, when I run my mouth off, you should be able to look at my work and decide if I know what I'm talking about.)

    I try to make up for it by posting the Critique section. If you're there, you're looking for comments.

    I only go to FF and Sketchbooks for five-star eye candy.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    I generally post critique in sketchbooks when asked explicitly.

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    I've always thought of asking particular people for sketchbook critique, but then I immediately shoot it down, simply because I'd be asking for WAY too much of their free time, as opposed to critique on just a portfolio or single image.

    "Hey, I know you have a life and everything, but do you think you could take a look at this 12+ page forum thread and give me input?"

    Imagine pulling something like that at a convention.

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    There's people here with ninety plus page SB's. Now to me, that's intimidating.

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    @ stoat: thats exactly how i handle it myself... thanks for typing it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoat View Post
    (The only reason I have a sketchbook myself is, when I run my mouth off, you should be able to look at my work and decide if I know what I'm talking about.)
    good you mention that... let us have some more? please?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Psychotime View Post
    I've always thought of asking particular people for sketchbook critique, but then I immediately shoot it down, simply because I'd be asking for WAY too much of their free time, as opposed to critique on just a portfolio or single image." Hey, I know you have a life and everything, but do you think you could take a look at this 12+ page forum thread and give me input?" Imagine pulling something like that at a convention.
    You are overestimating the time required to quickly page through a sketchbook and notice characteristic problems or lack thereof. It's not as if you were asking them to redline every single picture in the book.

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    I feel the same way as Psychotime about asking a particular person for a critique, unless it was my teacher or a friend. It feels really obnoxious. I can only look to myself. In real life I'm a relaxed chatty person but online I feel very self conscious, especially when I'm giving someone advice. I weigh every word I write on a silver scale. I want to be precise, polite and helpful, make sure that I have the right tone for the right person and I want to get spelling and grammar as correct as possible. English is not my first language so all of this can take quite a while. I can spend half an hour writing even the simplest little comment.

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    I don't have a problem with asking for critique. I've already got a list of various artists I'm thinking of getting input from.

    It's just a problem when I'm asking for someone to look at a 12 page forum thread. THAT'S obnoxious. A portfolio or single image is one thing, but a sketchbook thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    You are overestimating the time required to quickly page through a sketchbook and notice characteristic problems or lack thereof. It's not as if you were asking them to redline every single picture in the book.
    Arenhaus, how long would you ballpark it, then?

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    I'm not saying that asking is obnoxious (unless you demand it) even for a sketchbook thread or a whole portfolio. It just feels that way. And of course the more you ask for the less likely you are getting what you want.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Psychotime View Post
    It's just a problem when I'm asking for someone to look at a 12 page forum thread. THAT'S obnoxious. A portfolio or single image is one thing, but a sketchbook thread?
    I've looked at much longer ones, but they did daunt me when I first came here. If it's very long (like mine) I go 1. 2 skip a few 8,9 skip a few etc. Try to catch the last few pages and read what the OP has posted - it sort of annoys me when I've explained something about what I'm doing and where I'm going, only to have it asked or told to do exactly what I said I was going to do. 12 pages - piffle!

    Even if crits aren't asked for (they usually are) and you see an error that gets repeated quite often, it's kind to bring it to their attention.


    I didn't think it was possible to be called an artist when you have nothing to say. It's like being a writer who publishes individual words as books and expects to be praised for it.
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    I always assumed everyone in the sketchbooks wanted critique? Who doesnt want critique? you dont HAVE to use it, if you dont like it. But I believe its good either way. Maybe even for an onlooker
    Just realized I never blatantly asked for critique. Maybe thats why I get so few ^^;

    Last edited by Wingal; January 25th, 2013 at 11:24 PM.
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    What on earth is the point of a sketchbook thread if you don't want critique on it? What other reason would someone bother to scan/collect/post all of that stuff on a forum?

    Last edited by Psychotime; January 25th, 2013 at 11:54 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Psychotime View Post
    Arenhaus, how long would you ballpark it, then?
    Two to five minutes?

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    I was literally thinking this same question recently after posting a few updates in my sketchbook. I'm not incredibly active anywhere on this site (sometimes I wish I was, but I feel like I have too much to learn and too little to contribute really). At first I think I started my sketchbook as a place to get some genuine help as people seemed to really think out their replies to someone's work. Now I mainly use it as a kind of log (which is a bit silly, because I do have a blog/tumblr/etc) but I tend to post my most early sketches here that are a bit too scratchy to really put anywhere else. Some of them anyway.

    I still find people think a bit more about their responses here than on many other art sharing websites. Something I think is pretty unique conceptart. Like, if I get a comment on dA or somewhere else it's almost always along the lines of "Nifty!" where if I see someone's left a comment in my sketchbook I have to kind of brace myself and think "shit, what have I done wrong now e_e" which feels healthy to me.

    As far as the star system.. I'm not really all for or against it. People rate them because they feel they're worth a look, and it's just and indicator probably of someone's level above all else. Even those with high star ratings have had to work ridiculously hard to get to that point, so to write them off completely because many appreciate their work seems a bit mean spirited. At the same time, I have a high rating and I literally have no idea why. I don't really have the finesse of strong work, or many completed works. I don't have many study works either (which I'm really starting to try and change now), everything is just imaginative bull and I've constantly dug my heels in deep in what I like when people suggest "try this" or "try that". I've always thought about making comments about how I don't really deserve stars or anything, but at the same time I'll feel like it's a kick in the teeth to those who really appreciate my work.

    Also, to think that because someone has 5 stars that they get a lot of attention, this is totally untrue. Perhaps it's because of my lack of constant updates, but I don't get much attention really. People still leave fair comments about how I can improve, and a lot of them are totally right in what they say.

    I also don't believe people should -expect- comments in their sketchbook simply because they left one in someone else's. That makes it feel less genuine to me. I think if you're going to help someone, or say what you really feel , the reason for your posting shouldn't be "okay now I'll get more comments in mine". It kind of defeats the purpose.

    Saying that though, I don't leave many comments because I don't feel I know what it takes to improve, or to get better. I don't know what direction that person is trying to go in , so I don't know how to say what they need to improve. I love going through all kinds of sketchbooks. I like seeing people's improvements, I like seeing what they think, and why they want to get better...I also like seeing other people get frustrated, because then I don't feel like I'm the only one. What usually draws me into someone's sketchbook is their thumbnail though. If it looks imaginative, or unique..or perhaps the person looks like they have a lot of technical skill that maybe I can learn from observing their work. Sometimes they look like they're still quite new at drawing, and I like seeing what steps they're taking to learn. There may not be a lot of vocal people, but there are definitely many in the shadows.

    This must literally be the longest thing I've ever written anywhere on here.... I feel so exposed....

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  37. #29
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    I would object to the star system if it were used on everyone. If there were one- and two- star sketchbooks, it would be a pointless put-down of their owners, I think. But basically, there are five-star sketchbooks and no-star sketchbooks. I find it useful when I want to see a bunch of inspiring pixels -- I just sort the forum by five-star art and wallow around in it.

    Oh, and there are a few four-star sketchbooks. My theory on those is they got rated five stars, and then a sufficiently large number of people came along and thought, "come on -- it's good, but it's not quite five star enough for CA" and down-rated them deliberately.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lostcookie View Post
    I don't leave many comments because I don't feel I know what it takes to improve, or to get better.
    Specific guidance is cool, but it's also helpful just to know what other people think is working and what isn't.

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