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How to give Constructive Criticism/Feedback

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The Truth
Okay, to start off, let's establish that we are all human beings. I'm being serious here. We are beings capable of emotions - happiness, sadness, guilt, and all the rest. We are social beings to begin with, and cannot exist without each other, otherwise we wouldn't really be here today.

The one emotion that we can all attest to is happiness. Being happy is great! You feel good about yourself, and it boosts your self esteem. This is incredibly important as an artist to be proud of your own work, regardless of what you think of it. Something that may seem crap to you will be absolutely amazing to someone else.

Secondly, you don't know what other people are thinking. Hence why we share thoughts and ideas. Without conflict, as bad as it sounds, the world wouldn't go round. That's where we get all our inventions and such from. When a drawing presents a problem, you try to resolve it. It's a lot of strategical thinking to work something to your ideal. Everyone does this differently. We are all individuals. I want to stress this - no one has the same style. You cannot draw the same way as another person unless you train yourself to do so (like concept artists lol). We're unique!
On that note, don't tell people that you don't like their style/way of doing things. I'm not gonna repeat what I said above lol. Some people have a naturally organic way of drawing, and that's developed over time. Some people make the stylistic choice to keep their drawings stiff and box-like. That is totally fine. My own drawings are still stiff, and I'm working hard to break that >.>

Same goes with drawing processes. Some crazy concept art painters start with just a blob on the page and work their drawing out from just that. Some use simple shapes and build upon them to create images. It all takes years of practice and repetition to hone their craft. It doesn't matter what age you start drawing - we all started from there at one point, and if you're reading this, it's because you love doing it :) (yes, we love the struggle too -.- dang dead arms lol)
Anyways, my main point is that it'd be nice to keep an open mind about art in general when giving critiques. Don't just say that something looks weird to you - explain why it looks weird, then give suggestions for how to fix it. Your work method could work for the other person o3o Be nice about it too, cuz no one likes a dictator who wants other people to bend to their aesthetics (well, in this forum anyways. Actual real life jobs may vary on this aspect, but you guys don't have to worry about this right now)

So, the method I use is a variation of the Sandwich method.

General things to include in a critique:
1. You start by focusing on the strengths of the work - just point out what you like about it o3o
2. Criticism time - talk about the things you didn't like; areas to improve on. Most importantly - be as neutral as possible. I just wanna put it out here that critiques can be negative, otherwise the other person won't improve. However, the major difference here is that you should be able to back up the negativity with positivity (or well, least a neutral enough version of it) as to how the person can improve on that negative aspect and get better.
3. End it on a nice note to give the person encouragement! (balances out the doom and gloom from before :p)

Remember what I said about being happy and stuff? The same logic applies to comedy - no one will laugh if they're not friends with you. You could have the funniest joke in the world, but the other person is not going to loosen up and laugh with a stranger. You need to get the other person/party to trust you first, that you're not there to jab at them. It lets them know what they're doing right, rather than jabbing at all the mistakes right from the get-go which can come across as incredibly rude.
Like...how would you feel if a classmate just came up to you and started jabbing and tearing apart all the things they didn't like about your drawing? You'd feel hurt, right? You put all that effort into it! If you start off by establishing trust that you are genuinely interested in their work, then you can get somewhere.

You know that feeling when you play a game or do an activity with someone else that you like? And after all the struggle you win or achieve a milestone/goal? That feeling is awesome :p It's more about the process rather than the end product. The struggle is reeeaaaal -shot- (In all seriousness though, it's like that adrenaline rush when you get along with other people and have fun. Humans being social beings, dude.)

I sorta need to get better at this myself, but after sharing the things you didn't like or feel like could be improved - link all the things you said to positives. Make the other person feel like they could really get better at their craft if they followed what you said. Yes, it sounds like you're just buttering up to make people feel better when sometimes they probably don't deserve it, but the thing is, that's not the point. The whole purpose of what you're doing is to try and give the other person advice as to how to improve their craft.

Another important thing is that you're not talking about the person who made it. You're just talking about the work itself. That way it feels like less of a personal attack in which you're telling the person that they suck. Placing the blame on an artist is kinda harsh, because they could've been doing the same thing their whole lives and it's done well, but once they slip up on one thing and everyone attacks them - it's sad ._.
Again, we all have our own way of doing things. What you may deem as the best most perfect method ever could be the worst to another person. This doesn't just apply to art, it applies to everything when you comment on something. No one likes to be told they're worthless and they are pieces of garbage. Yes, that sounds depressing, but it does happen, and this is reality.

Now, one thing that I like to use in addition to criticism is to sometimes use examples done by other people if I'm unable to produce a good enough representation of what I'm trying to explain myself. It's sort of like so you don't look like a know-it-all and pretentious goof who's all like "I'm perfect and I know everything! Listen to me!" lol. Of course, everything has their pros and cons, and you can point it out, but always be sure to mention the good things about the work itself too. That gives the person receiving the feedback an idea on what they can improve on as a visual reference instead of just words. I'm a kind of visual person to begin with, so in my case, I would much rather have something redrawn so I can see things in a new light than be told something that I have nothing to draw from my imagination. Sort of like you're making an explanation make more sense.

Also - be realistic. We all have our own lives to lead, so don't ask for the impossible. Take it in small steps. Make the improvements seem feasible and easy for the other person to do. It's much more motivating and they will strive to improve. And say it in a nice way, for god's sake. Don't go all like "You need to do this" and "You should do that". It'll be like you're forcing an obligation on them. It's like if you were woken up in the middle of the night and pushed off the bed and told you can't sleep there for the rest of the night. Would you be happy? I doubt it. (I like my sleep lol).
If not, be neutral. Be open to both sides of the conversation. If a conflict arises from your suggested method of improvement, think of another way around it. There's more than one solution to the problem. You can always work your way around it.

The Internet
Yes, that title is amazing, thank you. *bows*
In all seriousness, because we live in the age of the internet, from my observation, people feel very comfortable behind their screens because of the anonymity the internet provides. I'd just like to say to please remember that the person you're talking to on the other end is also human. They may be a crappy human, but they're still the same species as you are. Even if you're protected by a vast long distance and they can't find and hunt you down - just be nice to people in general okay.
Unless they are being especially mean and it's to the point it's unbearable, report the situation to someone who can deal with it, like a chat moderator or something, or try and deal with said situation as calmly as possible. The first person to give in, loses.

tl;dr - Be nice, specific with your suggestions, and realistic. We're just human after all.
Seriously, being nice goes a long way.


As the person asking for feedback, it could also be super helpful if you asked for what kind of feedback you want - do you want to improve your colour, anatomy, composition, what? We don't know. We're not psychics and can't read your minds either. State what you need and it'll be easier for both parties to communicate ideas! (hopefully :p) I'm pretty sure you all have some kind of goal as to where you want your art style to be, whether you want to get close to someone else's style or refine your craft. Being specific helps us give better feedback in return :3

Congratulations! You reached the end of my unintentional essay! Hope you learned something :p
I had too much fun typing this wow lol.
- cy
Here's my two cents and a wall of text to go with it :3
Posted Sep 16, 15 · OP · Last edited Feb 11, 16
Bunneh
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That's a nice wall of text you got there m8.
Extremely through, you have quote the emotional/metaphysical perspective here.

I haven't seen any particular user being extremely obnoxcious, but I think that this opened my eyes to a new way of seeing how critiques are taken by the other person.

I think that caution must be given from both parties, because although you may try your hardest to give feedback without being pretentious, some types of people are so blinded by their ego that they cannot accept feedback. I can only wonder how to deal and give feedback to these types of people.

I think I'll try the sandwhich method the next time I critique, just so see how the reaction differs from my usual "style"??

Perhaps you could cover giving the actual critique. I see a lot of people giving short and breif comments. I could also benefit from improving my critique skills so I can communicate and articulate my thoughts in a more gentle and benefical way to the user.

Thanks for the essay^^
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Posted Sep 16, 15
Bunneh
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cy_ tag
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That's a nice wall of text you got there m8.
Extremely through, you have quote the emotional/metaphysical perspective here.

I haven't seen any particular user being extremely obnoxcious, but I think that this opened my eyes to a new way of seeing how critiques are taken by the other person.

I think that caution must be given from both parties, because although you may try your hardest to give feedback without being pretentious, some types of people are so blinded by their ego that they cannot accept feedback. I can only wonder how to deal and give feedback to these types of people.

I think I'll try the sandwhich method the next time I critique, just so see how the reaction differs from my usual "style"??

Perhaps you could cover giving the actual critique. I see a lot of people giving short and breif comments. I could also benefit from improving my critique skills so I can communicate and articulate my thoughts in a more gentle and benefical way to the user.

Thanks for the essay^^
In terms of the pig-headedness, that's why I stated to be specific about what kind of feedback you want. That way we can kinda avoid the ego curve :p
Course, not every situation is that nice, and blatant mistakes are sometimes in dire need of corrections. I reckon in that case, just go about it in a reasonable manner with evidence to back up your claims and most importantly - remain calm...passive aggressive yo.

Sometimes there is no hope for the ego heads too I swear lol. No matter what you say, they won't change XD (They'll have to come to terms with it their own way eventually, so leave them be)

In terms of how to give the actual critique...it really depends haha. I'll be around for a good while yet, and as the poster of this essay, I'll do my best to make an example of the stuff I described XD (then everyone can get an idea of how I do it, I think.)
Here's my two cents and a wall of text to go with it :3
Posted Sep 16, 15 · OP
Bunneh
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I do notice, even when people are ok with feedback. They won't apply it. Like I usually give feedback on a lot of art and I rarely see people apply anything. I suppose they just don't think your feedback was anything helpful or some sort. Sometimes people won't accept your feedback because they feel like they are on a higher stance then you on art. If you are supposedly "worse" then they place themselves higher and if you point out their flaws they won't take it and they will just end up criticizing your art when there was no relation at all. Happens to be a lot on other forums.

Posted Sep 16, 15
cy_ tag
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I do notice, even when people are ok with feedback. They won't apply it. Like I usually give feedback on a lot of art and I rarely see people apply anything. I suppose they just don't think your feedback was anything helpful or some sort. Sometimes people won't accept your feedback because they feel like they are on a higher stance then you on art. If you are supposedly "worse" then they place themselves higher and if you point out their flaws they won't take it and they will just end up criticizing your art when there was no relation at all. Happens to be a lot on other forums.
True, to be honest, I sometimes do that XD (curse my zoning out talking hearing abilities), but somehow, because I've heard the same thing over and over, it just drills into my head and when I actually try the thing out, it helps a lot.

One of the problems I had was variation in shapes for character so look unique and individual...*goes to find images*
Spoiler: So, I started with this for costumesShow
This is kind of a personal example of how I went about taking advice.

To be fair, humans are lazy beings. You can decide whether or not to take advice to heart if you are truly serious about improving. I was stuck for a while because I wasn't moving forward, so I decided on my own to ask my friends for advice, and I could feel like my drawings improved. I presented them my work in progress drawings so that they could make suggestions/alterations during the process and I learned from it.
Maybe try post works in progress stuff - sketches, concept ideas, whatnot, instead of finalised works? In my experience, I learn the most when my stuff gets changed by other people in the middle of the drawing process XD, because then I'm actively implementing it into the work itself.

Might just be because people think the work is done or they forget about it. It happens *shrugs*. I do it anyway because I've had cases where I've egged people enough that I can tell them, "I told you so!" :p
It's about taking the initiative, I think. I'm doing art seriously so I will sort of take a mental note and remember to do things certain ways. It depends on the person.
The problem is, people fall into their comfort zone in terms of their art and are unwilling to try to change their things despite suggestions being made because the way they draw makes sense to them. I know cuz I'm a victim of this XD
If you are truly willing to improve your craft - take people's advice to heart. Write it on a sticky note and tape it to your monitor so you know next time. My memory is beyond crappy so I have a google doc of a lot of drawing notes that I can refer to if I'm stuck. Whichever way works for you.
Here's my two cents and a wall of text to go with it :3
Posted Sep 16, 15 · OP · Last edited Sep 16, 15
Bunneh
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Ah, another thought. Critiques can be short, and the last step can kind of be skipped.
The way I normally do it is praise what's working in the first few sentences, then pick on what could be better in the last couple lines. But I don't do it in a way like the person HAS to follow my method. I say it in a way that suggests it. Use of the words "maybe" or "you could" helps, I find. And then state how that suggestion could improve their work. Good roundabout way of keeping it short and simple if there's little to change.
VERY important to remain neutral, passive aggressive. You're trying to help the other person :3

The lengths of my walls of text depend on how much drawing you show me :p (full body characters, backgrounds, etc. I will not hold back, I promise.)

EDIT: (More thoughts lol)
Generally, what I find is that once you get to know a person better, and you have a relatively even level of trust, you can just skip the whole praise thing and pick at the mistakes and suggest stuff. Like, blend a bit of step 2 and 3 together in terms of the Sandwich method. Course, if there is a significant difference to what the person has drawn before, tell them you like it! It gives em confidence that they've improved.
Here's my two cents and a wall of text to go with it :3
Posted Sep 16, 15 · OP · Last edited Dec 14, 15
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