General => General Discussion => Topic started by: Atnas on June 30, 2016, 07:35:19 pm

Title: A few thoughts on the Critique section
Post by: Atnas on June 30, 2016, 07:35:19 pm
Within the past few months I have been seeing some posts in the Critique section which are telling the thread owner to go brush up on fundamentals, study anatomy, etc, without anything else included. This is not a thread to call out a widespread behaviour or even any person in particular, and critique as of late has been rather high quality so I hesitate to post this, but I do have a very tiny concern that a misunderstanding may continue to develop if left alone, so I am making this post to clarify feelings myself and a few others have had recently.

The purpose of the critique section is to help the artist with their art. If their fundamentals are lacking, critique which fundamental you can help with. If their anatomy is off, critique their anatomy. Et cetera.

Giving general blanket advice can be tempting if the artwork is at a very basic level and you know many of their problems would disappear if they flipped through Loomis. However, try harder to find areas you think they would be receptive to guidance. Do not discount the effort already put in by the artist, no matter how novice it may seem. I haven't seen a single post in recent memory where the artist was at a level where they couldn't work off of their existing knowledge with some tailored advice and immediately benefit from it. Do not hint that they should learn to draw and then come back for help with their pixel art. You can do pixel art in concurrence with learning drawing with no issue, and train both skills at the same time.

It appears contradictory to have an artist present a drawing to you (a pixel drawing) and tell them to go learn to draw. Your opportunity to help them is in front of you! My advice is to initiate a tone shift within the topic wherein you issue a critique to their drawing ability and provide examples of where they can start to improve. Many impressive or drastic edits of the past are not text posts because they find this method to be a more effective way to communicate these things. Impart what you know.

The Pixel Art board is not a forum to critique only pixel tech. As much anatomy or general drawing critique belongs there as it would in a thread on a digital painting in the 2D & 3D Board. The sub forums of the Critique board are only categorical in nature. There is an expectation that by posting there you will get raw feedback from other artists on your entire work. This may have not been as clear since we introduced more categories, so I want to have this as a reminder.

This is not a post to discourage anything anyone has been saying. This is only a post to encourage those who have left advice with a blanket statement, to post more relevant critique tailored to the particular artist they are trying to help. Even one sentence to accompany blanket critique: "You should study anatomy more closely, I recommend Bridgeman. It seems you could benefit from recognizing the knee hinge is locked to the rotation of the thigh bone at the hip joint"

I'm very grateful to everyone who keeps this forum active and alive with any critique. You make Pixelation a wonderful place to be, so thank you, and please do not take this post in any way but as a helpful critique of a few critiques I've seen.
Title: Re: A few thoughts on the Critique section
Post by: wzl on June 30, 2016, 11:02:55 pm
criticizing critiques. now thats meta. well said though. I must say i agree with this.  :y:

It is easy to spot a flaw in a drawing and point it out, even moreso if its a broad fundamental skill thats lacking. Keep in mind that a lot of people looking for advise here arent looking to become well-versed all-around artists at this point. All to often they just want to make a cool sprite or tileset, and that is totally fine. Try to address the issue at hand in a constructive manner, whether it be textual advise or an edit.

I can see how it can be discouraging if you post your image trying to get immediate help and someone tells you "this is nice, now go learn some proper art" (paraphrasing). Especially to someone completely new to art. Starting with fundamentals can be overwhelming and discouraging too. There is too much to learn and you dont know how to apply most of it to your own pieces.

Once newcomers come to a point where they have enough experience they will feel comfortable with learning new stuff, delving deeper into the mysteries of art themselves, discovering all sorts of magic and things.

Just keep in mind: you know all that. you know what values are, how colors and contrast works. You know about anatomy, perspective, proportion, poses, mood, lighting and everything else there is.
Others just might know: i want to make X, how can i make the X i made look more like the X i want.

I'm very grateful to everyone who keeps this forum active and alive with any critique. You make Pixelation a wonderful place to be, so thank you

i can only second that. If it weren't for pixelation and the awesome guys i met here, i wouldn't have learned as much as i did in the last year <3
Title: Re: A few thoughts on the Critique section
Post by: MysteryMeat on July 01, 2016, 12:24:16 am
This is a good post! I'll definitely keep this in mind more, I do try to point people in the right direction but it's easy to forget what being that early along the artist path is like sometimes.
Title: Re: A few thoughts on the Critique section
Post by: Ai on July 01, 2016, 03:27:50 am
In my opinion, blanket critiques (on anything) are actually pretty much useless, in the same way as blanket praise. They're indefinite, and quite possibly simply noise.

That doesn't mean you can't say 'I think you need to work on values'. But it's better to say eg. "I think the values are a bit messy and have some contrast issues, particularly near the middle of the body. Have you studied the value structure of actual fish?" : ie. make specific observations, followed by a single suggestion, ideally phrased as a question (less presumptuous); If you can't phrase it as a question, phrase it as a story ('I learnt a lot about values from doing [X]'). These criteria are all intended to help you think in terms of understanding their internal narrative and giving a response that will fit into it (ie. that they can relate to), rather than making things about your 'superior level of knowledge'*

* I say that because I know several people for whom this is true: They like explaining things because knowing things makes them feel like they are in control. The result is really that no matter how engagingly they talk, the other person doesn't take it in, because communication is not the real aim of the person "explaining". Excessively broad advice almost always falls into this category, IMO.
Title: Re: A few thoughts on the Critique section
Post by: RAV on July 01, 2016, 12:49:26 pm
On that same note though, I noticed another trend: Rather than to think about what you say, it's thinking about what it says about you. I would warn about an environment, in which any greater level of engagement is reinterpreted into a flawed "character study". It is especially problematic, since with the declining activity in the scene, it is difficult to get things going, while at the same time any greater dedication is bothersome. This creates a negative feedback loop. Investing yourself is unrewarding. Who wants to make an effort to look bad. While there is value in good tact, strong positioning can also be needed. Negotiating the interests on a topic may be difficult though.