Comment Support Group #6 - What and How to Comment

10 min read

Deviation Actions

ProjectComment's avatar
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.

Knowing what and how to comment!

Read up on the original thread!

“Alright, I’m in front of the piece. What do I do, now?”

That is a good question. To find an answer, ask yourself: why did I choose to comment on this particular piece?

Did anything specific appeal to you? Did you get sudden inspiration on what you could write in your constructive comment? Knowing why you chose this piece, and not another piece instead, is a solid first step in the process of writing a comment.

Keep in mind: this is not the only way to start a constructive comment. Some commenters prefer typing right away, compared to writing down their thoughts first, while others spend a lot of time silently reviewing the artwork to find what to write.

Either way, analysis is often an active thought process, where you ask yourself what, why, how to try and understand the artist’s intentions, strengths, weaknesses, etc. For example, “does the anatomy depicted here fit the artist’s style?” or “do the color choices add anything to the composition?”. Asking yourself questions (on concrete elements or otherwise) is a highly useful method that you can use to think about the art. Not only does it challenge you, it may also highlight aspects of the piece that aren’t obvious, so your constructive comment is made all the more valuable to the artist.

I'm sure some of you are silently saying, “I do that, but nothing comes to my mind.”

Don’t panic. Just because you can’t find anything to say within minutes doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be able to write a constructive comment. Usually, it takes time, practice and more to get into the ‘groove of the commenting spirit’. Don’t jump to conclusions, don’t assume you will never be able to write anything constructive and, more importantly, don’t give up!

Questions like the above can be found here: Constructive Commenting: Guiding Questions.

While you can answer these “pre-made questions”, the opposite can work just as well. To clarify, you can take each component of the artwork, and ask yourself: “why is it this way?” or “how is it (not) effective?”. Each element holds an indicator that says, “there is a question here that needs an answer.”

Bear in mind – you don’t have to mention everything about the artwork! You could focus on just a few different elements (e.g. colour, concept, etc.) and ask yourself many questions instead to flesh out your commentary on these elements. Be specific, so your comment is tailored to the artist, but also expand and explain your reasoning by asking yourself questions, so the artist may understand your point of view.

What should be tackled, in a comment? What is important, even essential to a constructive critique?

This is a question where only you have the answer. The beauty of constructive commenting is that nobody has the exact same thoughts as you. It’s a diversity to be cherished. After all, can you imagine if everyone’s comments were written the same way, composed of the same things, with the same explanations of the same strengths and weaknesses?  

We all have different ways of approaching comments, and no one way is the absolute “right” way. Some of us approach the comment from “what would help me?”, while others prefer “what would help this artist?” as a point of reference. Ultimately, it’s up to you if you would rather place more emphasis on improvement, over praise. Or you can choose to do the opposite! There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be more supportive, especially if you think the artist is lacking support and would appreciate it.

The main thing to remember is to not have one thing by itself. Don’t just praise the artist, or only write about weaknesses, or focus on improvement by itself. Have a more holistic approach that includes strengths, weaknesses, and improvement.

How to articulate and structure everything in my comment?

Structure depends on your priorities. For example, if you think it’s more important to be supportive, you could add a friendly introduction and a cheerful conclusion, emotes and more, in order to convey support in your constructive comment.

If you think a balanced, holistic approach is more important, the good ol’ sandwich method was made for you! Sandwiching your comment puts strengths, weaknesses and improvement on an equal footing. Another popular method is using “themes” to structure your comment: each theme consists of one paragraph, with strengths and weaknesses mentioned within each theme/paragraph.

In the end, it’s in your interest to make your comment easy to read. Otherwise, why put all your time, effort and more into writing a constructive comment, only for the artist to not read it? If you have huge paragraphs, these can be broken into several individual paragraphs, and if you think your comment is getting too wordy, break it up with tutorials or other visuals!

If it helps, there’s nothing stopping you from writing your comment, and reviewing it afterwards to remove anything unnecessary, to make certain points more concise in conveying your thought processes, etc. This could happen right after the comment is written, or a few days later. In reviewing your comment, you could make your comment easier to understand for the artist, so for some commenters, this is a necessary step!

The length of your constructive comment is dependent on all of the factors explained above (and more). At ProjectComment, a constructive comment is made up of 200 words minimum, so you can fully elaborate upon your thoughts. This way, the artist understands where you are coming from regarding their strengths and weaknesses. 200 words may sound like a lot, but don’t let it scare you. When you explain as fully as you can for every point you make – including strengths, weaknesses and improvement – your comment will consist of a lot more than 200 words! Trust me. ;)

What is the goal of a constructive comment?

Once again, this is something for you to decide. If you comment for the sake of commenting, that would be your prerogative, in the same way that not commenting is your prerogative too. If you comment because it helps you as a commenter and an artist, or because you think you can help and support another artist who may or may not be in the exact same position as you, then that is the purpose of a constructive comment, or commenting in general.

However, keep in mind that your intentions or purpose (as the commenter) may differ from the artist’s intentions or their purpose. One reason why commenting is difficult is because both commenters and artists alike must reach across the divide that separates them. In an ideal world, each and every person would respect the other. So, if you think that something is important, keep in mind that the artist may not agree.

Practice Time!

Choose an artwork from the list below, and write a constructive comment about it, trying to make sure to add all the elements YOU find to be essential in such a comment. Then, explain why those elements are essential to you! :D

1. :iconiamnohere: 2. :iconpawcanada: 3. :iconkilljennifer:

Bonus points if you can also explain the process you follow to write your comments… How do you write them? Do you start with a long, silent analysis of the piece, or do you go straight to typing right away? Maybe you do something else entirely?

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:

...and 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.

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 IamNoHere, pawcanada and Killjennifer 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:

Nocturnaliss' note: Many thanks to Tuntalm for writing up this post! Allergies hated me this year x.x
© 2017 - 2024 ProjectComment
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
IamNoHere's avatar

I’m choosing no. 3. It has caught my attention as soon as I found it.

The colors are vibrant and complement each other. The orange tones are pleasing to the eye. The red gem on the necklace and the red-brown paws make the character pop but no color sticks out too much.

To make the character pop out even more, I’d move her to the center, where the background is the whitest. It would also help to make the pendant on her tail the same color as the rest of her jewelry. I had some trouble spotting it at first. Also, if you made the gems on her crown red, you’d get the best color harmony possible.

I like the character’s design. It’s easy to overdo it but you gave each of the design’s elements its purpose. The hair and necklace make her look girly and fun-loving, and the marking on her hip helps to that. On the other side, the crown, the marking on her face, her smug look and the smirk reveal she’s tougher than the first glance shows.

The anatomy is mostly spot-on. The pose is natural (on its own), and the proportions are well-made. Here only some possible improvements – the ear could be a little lower on her head, a millimeter or two would be enough. The second thing is the tail. It looks like bent against some solid surface, but the character is in the air. Making the arch more smooth without the sudden bend near the start of the tail would help.

The rest is just nitpicking. The first thing, it looks a little odd that the character is seemingly floating. On the other side, I think she looks a little as if jumping on a trampoline, which could explain the pose. Maybe if you’d rotate her so her back would be more paralel to the bottom of the drawing, it’d be more clear.

The second thing are the orange sparkles. I find them a bit distracting but on the other side, they make the character pop, too. I’d only make the ones closer to her a little smaller.

I hope my opinions helped. Keep up the good job:thumbsup:

ps: I used to play Transformice, too, it was fun:D

pps: I hope I’m not too late with the critique.

My critiquing process… Well, it depends. Sometimes (as this time) I improvise and go through the elements of the piece one at a time, finding more of them to critique as I go. Sometimes I “take the piece in” in advance, and then put down all the points I thought of, try to connect them and again, find more of them while critiquing. When it’s hard to visualize the suggestions, I make a visual guide. I don’t know what more to say.Sweating a little...