Commenting Workshop #1 - Guidance

7 min read

Deviation Actions

mikaylaleannART's avatar
Published:
2K Views
ProjectComment is a Group that provides Guaranteed & Constructive comments for the DeviantArt community. By discussing what makes a great constructive comment, we aim to support the awesome commenters out there through a workshop where, twice a month, we will be conquering the challenge of commenting.

Welcome to our first commenting workshop on guidance!


What do we mean by guidance? As an artist, when we receive constructive comments, we want to improve our artwork and further enhance our skill. As a commenter, we analyze artwork to learn how to improve technique in both our work and others' work. But, to be able to learn from a comment, we need to be guided with the next step (or steps) to take, and we need to offer guidance to be able to help others through constructive commenting.

For example, how could we improve this comment?
The picture looks washed out and the horse you painted looks off. Try using tutorials next time.

As artists, we are left with many uncertainties:
  • What is meant by the picture looking 'washed out'?
  • What is 'off' about the horse?
  • What 'tutorials' should I be looking for?
As commenters...
  • What have we noticed?
  • Have we analyzed the artwork and found specific aspects that need to be improved?
  • Have we made the same mistakes with our own work?

Is it possible for us to improve from a comment given to another?

Being more specific and placing more emphasis on guidance not only helps artists, but helps commenters too. Explaining and elaborating on our own thoughts and feelings helps clarify matters for both the commenter and the artist.

:bulletgreen: Explain and specify the aspects that need improvement in detail. For example, instead of using more general terms such as 'picture' or 'washed out', specify the aspects in the picture and explain what you mean by them being 'washed out'. Try not to use more general terms such as 'background', 'anatomy', etc. Be specific with yourself and the artist by considering the parts of the background, or the aspects of the anatomy. Keep asking yourself what and why to clarify matters for both you and the artist. As an artist, we don't necessarily know what a comment references unless otherwise indicated, and we don't necessary perceive things in a similar way to commenters. If only general items are stated, an artist may try to alter everything without targeted focus on a specific part that needs improvement.
"...The head is really short which makes it look like a youngster - too young to be ridden on. The front legs are quite thick, the belly line is wavering and getting bigger towards the back legs, and the back legs are also quite thick. Horses are notorious for being quite tricky to draw, here are some tutorials that may help you:
fav.me/d9q60z
fav.me/d1j42ja ..."
:bulletgreen: When writing a comment, ask yourself questions by using why and how. We may not be experts on every subject, but we have an advantage by being outside observers. As an observer, our fresh perspective gives us an advantage over the artist who may have become so absorbed into their work that mistakes may be 'normalized'. We have 'new' eyes to look and analyze a piece; we can notice what was overlooked. An artist may not be able to do the same, so guide them to see things the way you do by explaining why and how something is the way it is. For example, if something is 'off' about the horse, why is it 'off' and how is it 'off'? Without explanation or elaboration of your thoughts and feelings, artists may not be able to fully comprehend or follow you, your comment or your perspective. Clarifying this for the artist helps clarify the matter with the commenter so that everyone can see why certain techniques or aspects are more crucial and effective than others.
"...However the overall 'gradient' shadow from left to right doesn't make sense to me because having a horse in the picture indicates that they are outdoors and the sun doesn't throw lighting that way? Unless maybe they're by a thicket?"
:bulletgreen: If you have advice, give and guide freely! Following after the above comment, what steps should an artist take to improve? For many of us, advice can be used to give us a starting point for our next piece. Some good advice can set the foundation for artists to take the first step towards improvement, and, as commenters, we can give advice that we can use ourselves, especially if we learn by teaching.
"...Try putting your light source a little higher so the shadows are thrown downwards instead of straight across..."

What is your goal as a commenter? If your goal is to help others improve, guide them on that path so that their next piece can be even better.
KokoKiero, Dec 19, 2015: "These two look like they're out of a story, right in the middle of an action scene. The expressions help to sell this with the horse looking uncertain at the human and the human seemingly gloating at someone/thing. I like the way the rider's coat and hair are floating back and up due to the movement, along with the horse's tail. I think making the mane have the same movement would help make it look like they're moving at high speeds or just contacted the ground - laying flat like it is doesn't evoke much movement.

The white background leeches the colour out of them and, to me, takes away from the dramatic moment. I think even a solid colour would help with this if you didn't want to do a background. Additionally I would crop the image so that there isn't so much empty space around the two characters.

I really like the lines and shading in the horse's tail. However the overall 'gradient' shadow from left to right doesn't make sense to me because having a horse in the picture indicates that they are outdoors and the sun doesn't throw lighting that way? Unless maybe they're by a thicket? Try putting your light source a little higher so the shadows are thrown downwards instead of straight across.

The human looks pretty good here. The horse's anatomy needs some work. The head is really short which makes it look like a youngster - too young to be ridden on. The front legs are quite thick, the belly line is wavering and getting bigger towards the back legs, and the back legs are also quite thick. Horses are notorious for being quite tricky to draw, here are some tutorials that may help you: 
fav.me/d9q60z
fav.me/d1j42ja
fav.me/d6k7ko1
fav.me/d6p6a49

Overall, I think you captured a nice action scene here that makes the viewer think of the story going on around them. You have some movement with the beautifully drawn tail and the clothing and hair, and I'm not sure if it was intentional or not but the shadow underneath them looks like a moustache and I think that's awesome. Keep up the good work!"


If you look at the first and last comment, which one would help you more?

How does it help you, as both the artist and the commenter?
If you were to receive this comment, what would you do differently on your next piece as a result?




Check out our other Commenting Workshops!
:bulletgreen: Balance
Comments13
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
pawcanada's avatar
I've had comments like the example before and they are infuriating.

For a long time people were telling me my poses were "stiff" but then, as if they'd get a chocolate for every time they used that word, walk off with no explanation. Naturally that left me confused, especially - as a friend once put it - pictures often capture a moment in time. When I finally asked someone what they meant, they don't really have a valid response for me, or at least one that wasn't ground breaking enough to explain what made the pose "stiff" and how to fix it. Now I find myself asking if all my poses are stiff. If I draw someone doing a ninja flip onto a destroyed wall while throwing knifes at people, is there a chance that could be "stiff"?

Likewise I recently had someone tell me I really needed to look at tutorials but didn't really elaborate on which, implying I would be better effectively starting from scratch.