Since deviantART was first born on August 7th 2000, comments have always retained an air of mystery. deviantART was one of the first dedicated art communities of its kind, and it inspired a standard that is our duty to uphold today. As a deviant, you can play an important role in helping a fellow artist develop their skills, and helping the community retain a level of quality to be proud of.
And all it takes is a comment.
Why Does It Concern Me?
deviantART has a favorite system that has slowly diminished the importance of good critique throughout the site, and reduced the level of effort required for feedback to an artist. In communities where such a system does not exist, receiving a comment is an honor that members of deviantART will sadly never experience the same way members of these other communities will.
However, deviantART has something no other community has: spirit. Like no other community of its kind, deviantART exhibits passion and interest in art that is shown no where else. As such, the importance of maintaining this spirit is foremost. Improving the quality of our comments is one way we can do this.
A truly outstanding comment is always hard to compose, always hard to receive, and always hard to come by. For an artist however, a comment is of the greatest importance. It provides feedback on a deviation that will continue to remain unmatched by that of a favorite. To an artist, a comment is the difference between progression and refinement of ones skills, and continuity of an undeveloped style.
Where Is Critique Appropriate?
The golden rule of critique is always to ask yourself "is it appropriate to this work?" There are many examples of work here on deviantART where it is not necessary to give a massive comment, or where it is impossible to sit and analyze a piece of work for techniques. Make sure you ask yourself that question before you start to comment and save yourself wasted time.
Also make sure you only give critique where it is desired. deviantART has a wonderful system where deviants can select their desired level of critique, and having respect for an artists wishes can save you from a whole depth of trouble.
Consider yourself pre-warned: not everybody appreciates critique, and not everybody will take warmly to your opinion. Just know it's for the benefit of the recipient.
How To Give A Good Comment
A good comment is almost always composed of three important key topics. These are:
A good comment will always touch on one or more elements contained in these three areas, and will be highly beneficial to the receiving artist.
A good way to remember these three keep topics is to remember TEI, pronounced tea. Whenever you view a deviation, think about how youre going to give them some tea.
To most deviants, this is the element of commenting that is hardest to perfect and understand, and is often the reason why both givers and receivers of good critique are often confused.
The key step to this part of a comment is to look before you write. It is always tempting as a deviant to jump in and comment right away, but a good comment requires more than just a quick glance at a deviation.
Look at the deviation and ask yourself the following questions, which all refer to techniques the composer has used deliberately:
What are the colors like?
Do the colors blend together, or do they stick out? Is the piece comprised of a small number of colors, or does it utilize many?
How are the elements of the piece arranged? (This is called composition)
Where does your eye first move to? From what angle does the scene appear to be portrayed from? How light or dark is the picture?
How big or small is the subject of the picture?
Is it very far zoomed in or a great distance zoomed out?
Is the picture warped or realistic?
Are there lots of definite shapes in the piece, or is it very indefinite (often a technique of surreal or abstract art)?
What sort of focus does the piece use?
Does the composer use intricate detail, or is the picture very blurry? Does the shot highlight a small part of the scene, or does it capture a vast area?
Does the deviation contain textures?
If you were to touch the texture, how would it feel? Rough? Soft? Sandy?
These are six questions you should ask yourself every time you look at a deviation. Make sure you take an appropriate amount of time to inspect the piece for these techniques.
This part of a comment is perhaps the easiest, and surely the most practiced part of commenting around the deviantART community.
Describing the effects of the techniques upon you is as easy as saying how the piece makes you feel as the viewer.
There is nothing hard about listing your emotions. However there are some questions you can use to make sure what you are saying is relevant:
How does the piece make you feel?
Does it make you feel happy or sad? Does it make you want to cry or burst out laughing?
Does the piece remind you of something?
Does anything in the scene remind you of something from your childhood? Do the objects look similar to something youve seen somewhere before?
What do you like about the picture?
Is there a color that you like? Do you like how the piece is arranged? (Refer to the techniques youve already listed)
Make sure your passionate about what you write in this part. If the piece does not make you happy, try not to come across too nasty or unappreciative.
This is where the comment can get personal and often get a deviant off side with you. It is important to remember that a deviant spent their time making this piece. However tempting it is to be nasty, dont ever just write that you hate the piece or dislike it without having some evidence to back it up.
The purpose of providing the techniques and effects in parts one and two of the comment is to provide this evidence, and if done correctly, it should accurately reflect you attitude to this part of the comment. If it doesnt, go back and rethink the questions we asked ourselves earlier on.
Offering improvements to a deviant is often going to end up with a sad receiver. Everybody adapts to their own style after a while, and it often hurts to be told that its not that great. On the same token, offering improvements to a deviant can be the greatest gift you can ever give.
Here are two questions to ask yourself while giving improvements:
What would make this piece even better?
Always refer to the techniques you used in part one. This will make your comment sound much more professional, and come across as helpful rather than forceful. Find techniques that you think could have been done better, and if possible, post links to another deviation that examples what youre referring to. This can be inspiring to the deviant and give them a great example to bounce ideas off.
Why do I think youre a good artist and why do I like your work?
All this time weve been professional and offering tips and examples. This is the part where you get to give some real praise. Leaving a comment ending with just improvements would leave the artist feeling down. A kind word never goes astray, so tell them why you liked their work, and why you think they deserve your help! Dont shy up, nothing will make a deviant happier to hear how much you appreciate their input to the community!
Of course, its well within your rights to offer a favorite, so dont be afraid to tell them they deserve it if you decide to give one! Make sure you really think it deserves a favorite though. If everybody favorites it, its not going to mean much to a deviant after a while.
Whats ddi yuo jst tyep?
Never forget to revise what you've written! The best comments are not only honest and well written, but they actually make sense!
Spelling and grammar may not be your thing, but you can at least do the deviant the favor of making it legible. They'll love you even more.
Many deviants are unsure of how long a comment should be. But its really simple: how much do you need to write?
Just because a comment is short, doesnt mean its not a good comment, and vice versa for a long comment. Length means nothing. Its the content that counts.
Is That It Already?
You better believe it! Making good comments is really that easy! Just follow the steps provided, and youre on your way to making comments that everybody is going to love you for.
Remember one important thing though: always be yourself. No matter what formula you use, nothing means more to an artist to receive an honest comment from somebody who shows that they care about what a piece means to them.
Happy commenting everybody!
Nathan (~kle0012) and Kitty (~kittysyellowjacket)
If certain people like a piece so much that it's a "favorite" then you would think they would at least try to have something to say. But I've quickly found out that people fav bomb to get out of using any such effort. And some people even use fav's as what basically amounts to bookmarks. Which makes the artist bitter because ironically a "fav" doesn't really have much love or appreciation behind it at all.
I always try to leave a decent comment on others's artworks mostly because that is how I wish people commented on my own art. I only disagree where you say that "a copy-pasted comment is better than no comment." To me, I rather receive no comment other than a copy-pasted one, as I believe they are worth the same.
I'm thinking on featuring this on a journal or something, though sadly many deviants just see this as a tl;dr thing. *sighs*
I wish more people would read this and practice it. There's nothing better than a pat on the back but there's nothing more precious than a comment that will make you rethink your art to better yourself and your technique.
Thank you for posting this.
Just as you wrote : giving constructive criticism is pretty much as hard sometimes as receiving it but it's the only way to go to improve.
Giving oneself time to write a good comment and thoroughly think about is also a great way to intellectualise the artistic approach and look at one's own work in a new light.
Thanks a lot for tut' !
This is an awesome guide! I mean, this will help me a lot for my future comments, I usually just submit short comments saying "Oh my god, amazing job on this! I really like the concept and everything on this one! Awesome work here!", or add "I like your new shading style you have here!" if the artist has drawn it with a new style, or add "I really like your style, it's definitely unique!", if it's an artist I just discovered.
I usually just comment like that, since most artists I watch have the same style and kind of concept for every new picture they post, and it's difficult to comment something new, because of that. And sometimes when I can't think of anything new to comment, or if I feel that the artist probably won't reply to my comment because they haven't replied to all their other comments so I shouldn't bother wasting my time to comment something long that the artist probably won't even look at, I just favourite and run away. But I assume that it'll be totally okay with them, because they get an average of at least 150 comments that they won't even look at or reply to, and that they're okay with faving and running and they won't get butthurt for not commenting. On the other hand, I get disappointed when I work really hard on something and only get 3 comments, I mean, I once had a picture with 65 favourites but only 2 comments. I've only critiqued twice, on the same artist's art, but this will definitely help me write more.
Incredibly worthwhile guidelines. I've noticed in my brief time here that most users do the "Favorite Fly-by" and I'll admit, there are times I do the same. For me, I have trouble formulating constructive comments that I think will be worth reading; I hate to bother artists with a simple "Great job!" on every other work of theirs. I feel that's just another fly-by. On pieces that really speak to me, or make me feel something, I do comment, though it still takes me several minutes to ponder what to say and how to say it. Granted, I am socially awkward in every sense of the word.
But lately I've been feeling bummed about having received few comments since uploading stuff. I know I'm not good, but that's also where having honest critiques would help out. So I'm taking the comment pledge - to start leaving comments while I browse galleries and every time I favorite something. Hopefully I can help out and support other artists who might feel the same as myself.
And I will be referencing your formula often. Thank you!