How To Write Constructive Comments
Nice Sucks, Let's Be Mean and Honest
You're Killing The Art Community
Lately there's been a ton of people running around SheezyArt complaining about the fact that the comments they receive are kind, encouraging, and completely useless
. The reason for this is pretty simple: producing helpful, practical comments takes time and effort, while typing out the generic "wow that's good", takes about two seconds, no effort, and certainly little thought. It is much
easier to just glance at a drawing than to actively look at a piece and say what you think about it. Giving good comments is a bit of an art form in itself: it takes a little practice and some patience but the results are always worth it. Most people will be grateful that you said something beyond the usual "that's awesome", and will endeavor to tell you so.
Why would you bother doing this when so many people are doing the opposite? Why should you leave good comments when everyone else is spewing the two-word "lol neat" garbage at an alarming rate? Well it's a nice thing to do (who doesn't appreciate comments that are well thought-out?), it encourages community development (ever been to DeviantArt? Most of the comments there are exactly of the "nice work" variety), and lastly (you selfish, selfish people), the better your comments, the more likely people are to come visit your page. People like to see who's leaving such insightful comments on their art; and while it won't skyrocket you to the front page, it will attract visitors who otherwise might not come to your page. So now I will take time out of my busy schedule (which consists mostly of TV and sleeping but is busy nevertheless), and share with you the secret on leaving a comment that is constructive and encouraging (it's true, you can have both at the same time!) For our example, we'll take a piece my friend PK drew (thanks PK!):
1. Compliment on something good you see about the piece
. For instance, in this drawing the lineart is smooth, and it's pretty obvious that PK knows how to draw horses (or at least the top half of them.)
2. Suggest what the person could improve on
. Be specific, and (if you can) tell them how you think they could fix the problem. The shading on the body is so light that at first glance most people won't even notice it; heavier (more intense) shading could make the drawing more dramatic and pop out against the background. A more advanced critique would be that the bottom part of the peophin seems too simple when compared to the top (which is fairly detailed), which throws off the balance of the piece and makes the right side look heavier.
3. If you want, finish up with another compliment
. This isn't really necessary, but it will probably make the artist happy. It's definitely not a bad drawing, PK just needs to make the shading a bit darker, and like the way she colored the mane.
And we're done! We have just created a comment that was useful and polite without sounding haughty or rude.
Occasionally, you'll search and search and not find anything wrong with a drawing. Just remember that 99.9% of the time there is always something the artist can improve on. The basics would be anatomy, coloring, and shading. Is their anatomy correct for whatever they've chosen to draw? Do they have a definite light source? A good sense of color coordination? People who have some experience with drawing could look at line weight, the layout of the piece, and the posing of the character(s). People who work with digital coloring could look at the way the person handled the coloring and effects, and people who know how to use traditional media could do the same.
And then you'll run into those drawings where it looks like someone just closed their eyes and drew shapes with a big fat crayon; how do you give a compliment on something like that? The easy answer: don't. If you can't find anything nice or attractive about the drawing, there's no need to lie: it's perfectly okay to just leave a suggestion on how to improve. But most people will be more receiving of your critiques if you tell them what you think is nice about their work, too.
While most people will jump at the chance for "real" comments, there are some situations when critiques aren't appropriate. Be sure you read the description first, many people post art that has special relevance to them, and they don't want to hear what's wrong with it. That is perfectly fine, as long as they aren't doing it for every single scribble. However, if the artist is posting "don't tell me what's wrong" or "no bashing!" (because they are often the same thing in the mind of an artist) on every single drawing, that should be a red flag and you should evacuate the area as soon as possible (just kidding, but if someone is actually doing that there's not much you can do to help them.)
- Put some thought and effort into your comment; just saying "that's nice" doesn't help anyone. Many people are here to improve their skills and need YOU to do so. There is no such thing as a perfect artist; everyone can stand to improve on something.
- Be polite. If you think the anatomy needs work don't just say "dude, your anatomy sucks". That doesn't really help (what about the anatomy needs improvement? The arms? Legs? Head? Muscle definition?); and being rude will more often than not turn an artist away from your critique, no matter how valid it may be.
- A lot of people follow the trend where when someone comments on their work, they reply with a "thanks
!" Personally I think it's common courtesy when someone comments on your work to go to their page and comment on a piece of theirs, not just typing "thanks!" as a reply and leaving it at that. Again, it will take you roughly five seconds to type out "thanks for viewing my work!", but going to another person's page and leaving a comment on their art (or at least leaving a thanks there instead of on your own artwork
) shows that you are actually making an active attempt to thank them. (This actually had nothing to do with leaving comments, I just wanted to slide it in here.)
Basically, putting forth a little effort in your comments will improve their quality, make people love you (it is very easy to buy the love of an artist), and draw potential watchers to your page. When people complain about not getting any page views, it's not because their art isn't good enough (somewhere, I guarantee there is someone buying camel spit on a canvas); it's usually because they aren't going out, commenting on other people's work, and getting exposure. Occasionally, it's because they're a jerk and no one likes them, (which is another issue entirely), but for the most part it's because of lack of exposure. The purpose of an art community isn't to see who can be the most popular, but to encourage growth and improvement by sharing our techniques and inspiration with each other.
- RiDE (Kayo) // 08.16.2006
word count: approx 1200
beta-readers: D.M., PK