Why I wrote this.
One could say that most commenter's are too lazy to write more then a few words and even those are just basic phrases that repeat every third or fourth reply. But I reckon it's often not laziness that keeps us from commenting in a meaningful manner: Many people are not sure what to write. Some are overly careful, others don't find the words, don't know what to focus on.
So this is the a summery of some basic rules, experiences and appetizers I consider as really useful. I hope this selection will help you to improve your commenting quality, but more importantly, that makes your commenting practice more relaxed, fun and useful to yourself!
When and how should l critique?
Also Critique should always be aiming at improving the artist or the artwork.
While it's important to keep to the strength of the work, do not avoid talking about irritating sections or flaws. As praise is motivating, criticism may give direction to the artist, and improve future works. For giving helpful advice it's also necessary you make writing a comment enjoyable for yourself. Choose always pieces you like or have Ideas for, and only as long as you are willing to invest a little time. Pressure is a bad critic, and will leave you without a good feeling about it.
What can I do to get the critique I want?Simple, tell people what you want to know about your work!
Tell them in the description what in your eyes needs a second opinion and if you don't want comments on a certain area feel free to make it clear. On the other hand, as a critic you should pay attention for any guides or other information the artist has shared.
How can I write it down in good format?You may Start with what you like, continue with the improvable and summarize your impression at the end.
There are many other ways but this is almost always a good starting point to build from. You motivate the artist at the beginning while your suggestions stay in memory longest. To help keep it legible, always hold on to a few important points.
So, do I need to write a lot then?No, even one thoughtful sentence means a lot of help.
What if I'm not sure what to write?
For those occasions you may try this: First to summarize in a sentence what you see and what is important to you, but you do not judge jet. In a next step try to examine how things work together, or how the Elements just mentioned concern you or relate your environment. You may refer to other works of the artist or other artists of the same category, comparing the progress or the differences. For another Idea, you could watch how your own eyes naturally move across the image or canvas. What attracts you, what pushs you away, where are you getting stuck, what blocking your movement?
How to emphase Discussion?
That is where it often starts getting much more beneficial to both of you. Ask the artist how he/she did a technique or decided on some subject. You may tell about your own experiences. Those personal signals do often break the ice (honest interest required). Still, do respect if some artist doesn't want to discuss, and refrain from promoting your own work. You are a visitor, after all.
Who may critique on what?
That is a question to think of. We all do have limited experiences, right?
The title is being a little provocative. So to make it clear: In my eyes everybody can contribute to any work, but not any way. So I know about lenses, but not so much about mixing paint. I could give feedback when the paint was quite pale, not how to make it more vivid for next time. So when it comes to criticizing, it is very helpful to take one's own limits into account:
Technical and Content Issues (Something is most certainly wrong or undesired.)
You see a more or less obvious flaw, or a technical mistake that could be avoided?
So then the next step is to think of a way to improve it. If you can, you may also give technical advice or explain how you usually deal with the problem.
- A Japanese long sword is carried the wrong way.
You may clearly state that ''Japanese long swords are usually carried blade up.''
- In a photo highlights are clipped, and there are grainy artifacts in the high contrast areas.
You may hint that "Maybe reducing the overall contrast could help? I usually get those problems when I use extreme tone curves. When you set curves to 95% opacity, there is always is original structure left."
Things that feel wrong (Something might be wrong or undesired.)
If you don't feel certain, as something looks really strange but you can't put your finger on it, try this: Stay vague! Tell the artist where you get stuck looking at his image. Please, don't be precise if you can't. When you say, the shoulder is way too high, but you're just guessing, the artist may try to rearrange the shoulder, not seeing that the Arm actually is too long.
- So if the arm looks strange, but you are not enough into anatomy to tell how,
you may just hint that "Something seems odd with the arm." instead.
The same goes for 'common knowledge':
- There are guns on a Vikingship, you think that might be wrong.
You might say that you are "not sure, but seem to remember that in the times of Viking's there were no powdered guns." The artist will look it up, and will not correct something may actually be right.
Opinion & Impression
Even if you don't find anything to say about the content or the technique, you can – of course - always state an opinion. In my experience it helps to clearly mark it as such, meaning to separate it from critique of content.
- You dislike the mood on a painting, instead of telling "It's very cold."
you could state that ''Though it's a somewhat moody painting, I can't seem to like the cool expressions on all these faces." That way the artist knows that the critique of the faces it's not aimed at the quality of his work or even at the colours.
Some basics were taken from SketchedExistences journals as I could not explain then any better, some Ideas came from People in my personal environment and the critique group, others from articles I came across while researching this topic.
I especially recommend an article of the wesnoth community, which focuses on some constructive critique in a community. The writer coordinates the Art & Design for this openly developed game and has some experience to share: [link] (Which I took a whole chunk from)
Also if you're interested in giving and receiving some critique you may want to have a look in this group.
It's one of the reasons I started to write this article in the first place: