Comment Support #2 - Knowing Something is Off

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My name is _______ and I am a commenter…

Well, of course you are! If you are reading this, more than likely you are a commenter, and what commenter doesn't have concerns, problems, issues or more with commenting?

That is why ProjectComment has formed a Comment Support Group to help people with commenting. To be utterly honest, we can't improve your commenting skills for you, but we can help you improve only if you want to improve.

Both commenting and improvement are individual processes. It's up to you to become a better commenter, but that doesn't mean you have to go it alone!

We are here to foster a group where commenters feel safe, where commenters feel they have the right to share their thoughts, feelings and more about commenting, where commenters have the right to open up, seek advice and get the support they deserve.

None of us are here to make fun or criticize. We are here to encourage commenters to share, discuss and, most of all, challenge ourselves. It won't happen overnight, but if you take baby steps with us - one day, one week, one piece, one deviation at a time - we hope you will become the commenter you are meant to be.

Have you ever had the feeling that something was off, yet not knowing how to quite define that feeling, or put into words what ought to be altered, why or how?

Annoying feeling, isn't it? Like an itch that you can't quite scratch.

The good news is that this is a skill you can acquire. The bad news is that it takes time and practice. But, there is good news within that bad news, because, along your commenting way, you're bound to improve both your artistic and commenting skills by spending the time, effort, and more to figure out what is off, why it is off, and the how behind it all.

Once you start to analyze another’s artwork, you’ll start seeing your own in a different light. Learning to use these (newly acquired) analytical skills for your own projects is a whole different cup of tea though, so, for now, we'll focus our attention on figuring out just What Is Wrong With That Picture.

The best examples are the many ‘Before & After’ memes you can find on DevianArt. For example...

One look should already show you the artist improved a lot, but what makes this new version better? We can start by looking at the original image to see where the artist started from.

The 2005 character’s swaying pose was corrected in the 2011 version, with the weight more evenly distributed between the feet - this was done by spreading the feet further apart. With more weight on the foot to our right, 2011 has less chance than 2005 of falling flat on her bum out of faulty balance, so we can more heartily believe that the character is actually standing. Due to further definition of the anatomy, the character appears more lively, more interesting, especially with the addition of a dynamic background that supports the character, so she stands out more.

By delving deep into the what, why and how, we have neared 100 words on just a few points that all connect with one another under a topic, whether that is “dynamism” or “anatomy” or something else. If we did this with another topic, we could reach 200 words sooner than we think.

These are comments that could have, hypothetically, been given to the artist in order for them to improve. What interests us most is being able to not only spot what can be improved upon, but to understand what we spot. It is difficult to put all of this into words, but the more detailed we try to be, the more we explain and go further, the better it is for both the artist and the commenter. More detail = less misunderstanding.

So, how do we get from...


The simple answer is to just get started.

Alright, it’s not that simple, but commenting and comments start with analysis, which is a skill we can develop. If you want to practice analyzing artwork, start by picking a piece of art you like. Yes, it may seem counter-intuitive to analyze a picture you like, but by being engaged, your interest is held. You may more easily pinpoint the things you like or dislike. The key thing is that you’ll be staring at it - intently - and taking it all in... The longer time you spend, the more invested you are, the more you might start to notice those little details that may be missed due to quick initial impressions, or just quick reviews in general.

Whether the art is visual or literary (or something else entirely), there could be many things tied to knowing something is off. Maybe you know the how, but can’t adequately convey the why, or maybe you know the what, but not the how. We all have different approaches when it comes to this. Perhaps we work best after a good night’s sleep, with a fresh pair of eyes, or maybe we just need to write our thoughts down as they come before sorting them all out. Remember, you don't HAVE to comment right there and then. Commenting constructively takes time, so take your time.

So, once you have analyzed the piece, what do you do? How do you start explaining your point of view so that the artist understands where you are coming from? Once again, everyone has a different approach. What is truly important is finding a method that works best for you. You could make a list of points you readily see, or write your comment on the fly – there is no right or wrong commenting method.

If you are still having a hard time getting started, then ask yourself: What do I find difficult about commenting? What do I find easy? If it is easy for you to make lists, go for it. On the contrary, if you find it easier to write down your comment at once, there’s nothing stopping you from doing that.

Work with yourself, not against yourself. For example, if you find it difficult to pinpoint what is off with a piece right away, you might come to those points anyway as you write down the things that do come to mind. You might not see, right away, that the one tiny candle is missing enough shading to throw things off, but if you give yourself time to immerse into the art, you give yourself more chance to see these details.

In all fairness, commenting constructively is difficult. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. You would all be giving and getting constructive comments like nobody’s business. The fact is, that’s not the case on DeviantArt, and there are many reasons for it, but one of the reasons doesn’t have to be because you can’t comment constructively. You can, especially if you don’t approach it as a gargantuan task. Take it one step at a time. Start with one statement on one point, and then explore why, explore how, explore what, explore everything there is to explore about that one thing. Then, once you have explained that one thing to death, start the next. You may be pleasantly surprised how fast you reach ‘essay’ length.

But, don’t fluff the comment. Make every single point, every single sentence count. If your goal is to help the artist improve, then keep that in mind in every sentence you write. You won’t get it right 100% of the time, but regular practice of commenting will aid you in becoming a better commenter and a better artist.

Noticing strengths and weaknesses in others’ art will circle back around to your own. You may have some similarities, or you may have some differences. It’s all good if your skills are being developed, whether that’s analysis, communication, artistic or some other skill out there. And, who knows… you may make friends along the way who will help you grow further -  but none of this happens without trying.

So, it's time for you to try this for yourself. :la: For this session, we have a number of artworks submitted by participants of our Comment Support Group who scored bonus points. These have been picked by the artists themselves because they feel something is off with the artwork, and can't figure out what.

Practice Time!

Choose one artwork below and provide one constructive comment about the artwork in this journal.

1. :iconrabbithazard:'s  2. :iconsly-raider:'s

3. 4.

Take your time in analyzing the piece, observing the details, taking everything in... Really let the artwork sink in.

Done that? Good.

Onto the challenge, in your constructive comment:
  • Find at least one flaw/weakness and try to explain your perspective in as detailed a manner as possible.

  • :star: Bonus points if you make this a full constructive comment by also finding one detail about the artwork that you find ‘perfect’, so you can praise the artist constructively.

There is no defined length to your comment - short or long - what matters is that you try. Try to find out what you are capable of as this first step to improving both your art and your comment.

Ready to take up the challenge? You have one week to post your constructive comment in a reply to this journal! :la:

Go, go, go! :eager:

...but what happens next?

After you have posted your comment in this journal, it is on to discussion! A response is guaranteed, as we address your concerns, provide guidance and suggestions and, more importantly, support you and your commenting.

Next week, we will mention you with a follow-up, coupled with some insights from fellow ProjectComment admins. Not only that, we have a special offer for you to take us up on...

So, don't hesitate to ask questions if you have any! We are all here to improve, whether it's on our art or comments. You never know, you may have some advice or experiences you would like to share with your fellow artists!

Many thanks to RabbitHazard andSly-Raider for providing artwork for this week’s session.
Would you like your artwork featured here? Then take up the challenge and score those bonus points! :eager:

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AuttumntheGuardian's avatar
I'm not used to writing things like this but i'll try my best.
Comment for #2

I like how the colors of the background just put you in the feel of the world. And how the characters in the picture are drawn so well you can instantly see their personalities come to life! What could make it look even better is to add some duller and darker shades of colors around the character's bodies that face away from the moon to give it that night-time atmosphere. Maybe researching full moon layout pics could help. Though the dimensions are brilliant and make the environment look real as if i could walk to the haunted mansion!

One last thing to help out is darker shadow detailing of the objects around the picture like the trees, the mansion and the candy everywhere. What would make this easy for where the shadows are going to be is by knowing where the moon is and where it's light can't reach.
Hope this was clear enough