#02 Improvement and Critique

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Hi everybody! Browsing the wide range of artworks here on dA, you may have carefully pondered about writing a critique on a piece that had caught your attention, but did not quite know how to communicate your analysis of the piece that would have helped the artist to improve. Likewise, you may have found yourself stuck on the other side of the fence, receiving a critique but not knowing exactly how to execute the advice to yield improvement. I plan to cover both grounds in this article, so hopefully this dual perspective will help!

3wyl’s step-by-step article on how to constructively comment is a great guide on how to critique; I’m going to go a step further with the “State Suggestions to Improve the Piece” section.

Here are the four main directions you can take when critiquing someone’s art to improve.

Technique

Describe how they can use their medium to yield higher quality effects. Are their brush strokes too hard/soft? Can the shading use some cross-hatching techniques? Can more/less exposure create a more effective photo? How can layers enhance the cleanliness of the painting? Etc.

Accuracy

Develop their artistic skill and enlighten them in conveying subject matter. Letting them know if perspective if misaligned, explaining how the anatomy may appear awkward or pointing out that objects are the wrong scale/size in the environment.

Execution

While Technique and Accuracy may require expertise on your part, Execution does not, as it focuses on the subjective idea behind the artwork and how it can be improved. Most aspects of critiquing literature would fall under here. So you focus on the more subjective fields, such as how well the concept gets its message across, and what can be added, taken away, altered or rearranged to make the idea better! 

Reference

If you know any artist, author, style, or movement that the artist’s work reminds you of, by all means reference it! “Have you checked out so-and-so’s work, or have you heard of impressionism?” Linking a beginner or intermediate artist’s work to an established style, gives their art a meaningful connection to the art world, as well provides professional examples they can model after.


:bulletblue: Now time for the other half. Receiving the critique, and then acting on it. There are a number of different situations and a number of different techniques for this too. Number one…


Just Act on it!

Before you label this as a cop-out, this can be applied to most digital paintings and traditional sketches. If you have an empty composition and someone takes the execution strategy and advises you what to fill it up with, don’t be afraid to revisit the old piece and fill it up! If on a sheet of paper you sketched your OCs and the shoulders are off, get an eraser and correct yourself! Simple fixes themselves are good practice.

Consider & Practice

Some problems, however, are much more complex and you might destroy a finished piece in trying to fix it (ex. lighting, crooked perspective) So, if someone critiques you on lighting, put aside the “bigger picture” you have planned and go to the simpler practices, working with plain shapes and simple tests. Same with perspective, anatomy, etc. However, to push yourself further, tailor these practices to suit what you usually draw. If you like drawing cars, try to “evolve” those “plain shapes” until you’re comfortable with the car shape. Same can be done with people and their clothing. When you want to go back into your “bigger picture”, sketch it over a few times, with the critique in mind. Maybe from different angles and with possibilities. Really try to select the best and most accurate match.

Redraw/Rewrite

Pretty self-explanatory. If the problem is too complex to readily fix, redrawing will be a great test of patience and practice and I’d commend anyone who would redraw a piece (according to the critique) that took them hours. Rewrite applies to all the writers out there. ;)

Find References

Similar process to Consider & Practice, but definitely find some art-books that might target the issues you’re experiencing and read them. Search up tutorials here on dA, there’s plenty of em! Google Image search some references and pay attention to them while drawing the next time. If someone referenced you to somebody, search him up!


:bulletgreen: So whether you’re seeking to improve or improve others, I am hoping that the tips listed above will be found as helpful to you.  That concludes this article for today. Keep drawing, writing, posting, and thank you for reading.

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DTKinetic, posting on behalf of ProjectComment
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WindySilver's avatar
I really would love to give an official critique someday, but since I am not good with those Technique and Accuracy parts, I haven't had the courage to even try. I did give a smaller critique in the comments, but... that was very simple.