Disclaimer: I'm not claiming to be expert, this is where I am at in my learning process and I am just sharing it with you guys since it seems to be a major topic of discussion. I would rate myself a novice at giving critiques still with much to learn.
It's and art, a craft unto itself that takes time and mastering just like art or writing. Anything for that matter in life. If you apply yourself to learning a skill set it goes without say that you will go through the novice stages of development, it's only normal. We must struggle and meet resistance in order to grow or learn. With that being said. I made a status the other night talking about how I was going to put a journal out about feedback. I had a friend who had received a comment or a piece of feedback that had at first hurt her feelings. I've been there, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't. So I thought about it and we got to talking and I couldn't help but want to re-share some of this advice. It is advice that was given to me and that I have expended on of the years.
Before we get to it I want to highlight some points of discussion here quickly. We will talk about:
Before we get to these points, I want to share a story with you. I joined a group called
a while back before I tore my artwork down from art theft. Everyone who knows the story behind this knows how devastating that was to my confidence and my trust as an artist in this community but I need to move on and come back in order to grow and learn. I didn't want to cut myself off from a potential assets. Speaking of assets, ProjectComment can be a very great asset to those of you who wish to improve your art.
Anyway, I learned that taking my art down cost me all that hard work that I put into that group. I can no longer look back on that feedback as the comments have been removed along with the art's original posting. Lesson one knee-jerk reactions are bad reactions. I know I said that it wasn't, but as I come to look back on it, it was. It wrong for so many reasons. I still stand by what I said though in an earlier journal. I will not recant it.
This brings me to an opportunity that arose from a piece of art that I had posted. I had actually made a friend because of this piece of feedback, so my side of the story may surprise them since they are getting information they hadn't previously had during that conversation or after the fact. The piece I submitted was Crystal Magnum
. The critique literally killed me. I wanted to cry. It hurt my feelings and it devastated me, to be accused of not understanding the female form. This was the initial thought, At first I was just going to say thank you for taking the time to give me feedback and move on and ignore it. (Take it like a boss. How to thicken your hide 101.)
Instead I found myself sitting on it for an hour before I felt myself wanting to get defensive. Then I re-read over the comment. It was apparent I had made quite a few mistake while posting my art. The commenter hadn't had the full picture or scope of what I was after or achieving. Instead of getting defensive I decided to open up a dialogue. To use it as a learning experience.
Mistake one, I didn't post in my description enough information as to what I was doing or trying to achieve. I didn't talk about the fact that I had used several references from real life. I didn't have to credit anyone since they were my own references.
Mistake 2 I failed to mention in my description that I was learning to draw a burlesque body type. Many people need education on this type of body or it can be mistaken for unrealistic art. While the body is unrealistic and unnatural that doesn't mean there aren't unnatural means to change our bodies.
Another factor that isn't really anyone's business but needed to be brought up. Was that I do understand breasts and how they work, I'm a mom. I breast fed. Or tried too... People often jump on the fact and assume, since many young people use this site (teens) that automatically qualifies me as one which means I know nothing of sex or body mechanics. Errrr! *Buzzer* Wrong! Way wrong, you should never assume. Being a teen doesn't disqualify you from knowing about sex, many teens do it. I really don't condone it though. Too many problems can arise and the mind isn't mentally prepared to accept the consequences.
I chose to forgive it and I took the tact to use this opportunity to teach a fellow artist. First things first, people alter their bodies all the time, be it hair dying, surgery, or piercing and tattooing. Does it make it right? I don't know it depends on your perspective on the subject but that's not here nor there. I drew a body that could only be achieved through altering by what they call body training with corsets and surgery.
There was a point about breasts that was brought up. I was told that my nipples were too small for the breast size. How do we know she's not cold? I'm not trying to be crass there. Also breast shapes take on many forms. Did you know that the human body is naturally asymmetrical? Asymmetry is natures response to growth, development, and life. Symmetry is a human concept. So this by extension may come to be a shock for a lot of people but many women on average have varied cup shapes between breasts and are asymmetrical by nature. Some of us stuff padding in to hide it if its really noticeable. Not to say that there aren't even cupped women out there. Also with all this in mind yes woman can have small nipples and large breasts, or even small breasts and large nipples. The human body varies by our genetics. We sometimes don't see this because of the media and the human need or desire to chase perfection or symmetry.
My waist came into question obviously but defer back to earlier on surgery. These women will go to extremes to remove ribs!
I posted this piece to that group before I deleted it during the blow out... I posted it knowing there were flaws in it. I can see them and point them out. The hand on the leg is smaller and needs to be increased in size. Her face needs work. Etc... I was able to take the feedback on the obvious flaws.
Which brings me to my points... Giving Effective Feedback:
This takes a lot of practice, so for those of you receiving feedback, you need to be understanding
that not everyone is going to be effective or know how to give feedback properly at first. They don't always mean to hurt feelings or offend. It's part of learning a new skill. You will be in this category to, everyone is when they start off. This is why we need to be forgiving
of others. We will make the same mistake and hurt feelings too.
This was on a writing forum that I had ultimately started applying to other aspects of my life. "You won't always be able to answer each of these in detail, but the more effort you invest in answering these questions, the more useful your critique is to the writer. More to the point, the thought process involved helps you improve your own writing in the revision phase.
Meaning the more you apply yourself to giving feedback to others the more you are able to use critical thinking, observation, and analysis in your own work. Your sharpening your mind and a skill, refining your eye. In other words don't half-ass critiques it only hurts you in the end.
Giving effective feedback means asking yourself questions about the work. What needs improvement and how can you help this person improve? This is just an example question. So lets say someone needs improvement on anatomy or shading. You would point out in a neutral or encouraging
way they need improvement in these area's, but take it a step further tell them how they can or provide resources so they can learn. Don't just say you need improvement here and walk away. Give them a reason why they need to look at this area. You would do this with each area you choose.
Using the same piece below an effective feedback example would look like this:
Hi username, I saw that you would like a critique on this piece...
I really like how you shaded her boots you can tell she is wearing real pleather, and the shading in her hair and skin is really even too.
I see that your struggling with hands especially the one on the leg is too small and needs improvement, I would suggest enlarging it so that it is in proportion to the rest of her body. There are golden ratio's you can follow and tips to ensure you get hands the correct size. Here is a (link) or a (tutorial) to help you. A cheater rule I learned with hands is to make sure the hand is roughly about the size of a persons face.
I really like the way you did the background and used different blending techniques and textures. I see that you used erasing to provide highlights and also used your smudged finger to provide textured dotting.
I see you still need work on shading in some ares though. The gauntlet could use more lighting since there is fire in her hand. May I suggest fire lighting studies? The fire would affect how the gauntlet and the face are shaded based on its intensity and its size and well with other lighting in the subject space taken into account.
Thank you for giving me the chance to critique this piece, and I wish you the best of luck on your art journey! I hope I was able to provide helpful information.
Okay so the idea is to provide effective feedback. As you can see I need work on both my art and my feedback application still. I'm not going to pretend that was perfect. Point is we are all learning and will continue to be learning. So we are all in different points in our progress and need to be understanding of it.
An effective feedback or critique giver picks two or three things to focus on. I tried to keep it to shading, anatomy, and texture. With each piece of feedback you give, a compliment to the work should also be given. What this does is give the person a break in between each critique to absorb what they just read without overloading them with negatives. It gives them encouragement and also help boost confidence. It is important to point out what people do right so the can build upon it and build self-confidence.
You should always close a proper critique on a positive note, think of it like writing a resume or a cover letter, or even a thank you to an employer. We need to be encouraging and thankful for the opportunity to give the feedback. Close it up with positivity, because we don't want to waist our time or theirs!
Okay I just gave my older self some feedback, kind of hurts to be honest with myself. I see a lot more wrong with that piece then I typed up. One being shading metal. Anyway, when receiving feedback it is also good practice to engage the people that take the time to give it too you. Do not dismiss them with a thank you and move on. It's hella rude. They took the time to engage you so by fair extension you do the same. Don't just give a simple thank you but be well thought out in your thank you.
Thank you username for taking the time to visit my profile and browse my art. I am also grateful for the time you took to give me feedback on this piece. I found your critique to be helpful and I will take a look at your resources and tips and try to see if I can't apply them. Wish me luck!
If you want to you can use the thank you as a way to open up further communication.
Thank you username for taking the time to visit my profile and browse my art. I am also grateful for the time you took to give me feedback on this piece. I found your critique to be helpful and I will take a look at your resources and tips and try to see if I can't apply them. I do have a question though, I feel I am struggling with metal shading do you have any tips on this as well?
Open that dialogue and learn! Use it as a spring board for your success this person just became an asset use them! Which brings me to...
How to utilize feedback:
How do we utilize the feedback we get from people to the full extent we can? Well for starters we apply the persons feedback to our artwork. I suggest going through an re-reading our comments from time to time to see if we are improving. So lets say you got a recent feedback, and there is a lot of information. Pick one and work on that then move on to the next item.
Use those tips and tutorials people spend time looking for and posting in their comments. And I mean it, I have tutorials I've saved and I know where they are bookmarked but it doesn't mean that it doesn't take me time to sift through things and find what I am posting to you. I don't just randomly type into the search engine and post something. If I have a special tutorial in mind I may have to track it down and it takes work. The best thank you, you can give someone is to use the tools they give you.
Utilizing feedback also means learning to accept that you aren't perfect and need work on things. This means taking the negative in stride and putting your game face on even if the truth hurts. This mean you will be spending hours, days, weeks, and in some cases years practicing. Yes, art can be a lifelong journey and it is. If you aren't learning in your old age you aren't growing as an individual.
You need to be willing to put effort and time into your craft, but also understand their will be successes and failures. Be a glass half-full person and celebrate your successes.
How to thicken your hide:
Everything takes practice, even the art of accepting a critique. They suck really bad at first when we are beginners and sometimes even still as advanced artists. I hear in college people rip each other apart. The thing is you can't thicken your hide if you don't subject yourself to criticism. Just like I can't overcome depression or social anxiety with out doing what is required of me to get better. Meaning I have to get out and talk to people and throw myself in social situations. The more you do it the easier it gets and the less you suffer from anxiety. Soon things become easy. Same goes for accepting criticism. The more you engage in it the more likely you are to be successful and if you keep this end goal in mind it will help you.
It's like a muscle we have to develop. I was and am still a fairly emotional and sensitive person. I get made fun of for it and have been literally tortured because of it. The trick is to learn how to let some things just go in one ear and out the other and its wicked hard. If it hurts your feelings and isn't provided in the nicest light or comes off as demeaning or voluntarily condescending forget it thank the person nicely and move on. Sometimes they are trolls. Don't engage them.
So lets say you get a "your art sucks" comment. Here is where you get to learn how to be the bigger person. You can choose to ignore the comment and leave it up so people see it. Yes leave your comments up even the negative, freedom of speech baby! Best part is it also outs the person as negative and people see this and will avoid communicating with said person. So don't hide those mean comments! Benefit yourself and the community.
Secondly you can also respond but don't be defensive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, or snide. Don't start a fight. Just be nice and kill them with kindness. For example you could say "Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to look at this piece, I really appreciate it." and leave it at that. Seriously. Here is the thing, the person took the TIME to look at your work and comment on it even if it was negative. You can look at this in one of two ways. One you can take it as you need to improve and move on from the negativity, or you can look at like this, the poor fool wasted their TIME making that comment looking for a fight they won't get. Let them waste their time not yours. Yours can be used more effectively.
If they try to pick a fight further, just ignore the comments and leave them up, if you delete or hide them that means they win. If they keep pestering you ignore and block move on. That was what that lovely function was designed for.
Also as an after thought here. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, so your always going to get that one asshole. It's part of the right to free speech. You may not like it but you have to respect it. You wouldn't want your right to free speech taken away so don't take theirs away. Two way tolerance.
Remember in order to thicken your hide you need to embrace the fact that you have to expose yourself to what makes you uncomfortable.
Thank you everyone and remember the art of feedback is an ongoing learning experience and the only way to give and receive feedback effectively is to exercise that muscle. Go out there and participate!