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Tiny Tips: How to Give Critique


New Member
So I thought starting a forum might be a good way of dipping my feet in the water of teaching artwork. So this is just a test. As such send me your feedback on how you think I do here.

Since I'm definitely looking for critique on my methods of teaching, I thought a good, clever first lesson would be on critique and how to give it. (How to receive will be later and in another thread!) Instead of going over the dictionary definition of what critique is, I thought I might take a more Goofus and Galant approach by outlining what it is and what it isn't so that you may more accurately be able to point it out and even better apply what you've learned in your own critiques.

+Critique is specific.
-Critique is NOT saying "I like this" or "I don't like that."
Note: As a result, your ability to critique a certain thing is completely dependent on your theoretical and practical knowledge of the subject matter. IT IS OKAY TO SAY THAT YOU DON'T KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT SOMETHING! Best to say that than mislead someone with inaccurate information.

+Critique is about fostering an artist's growth.
-Critique is not about you or your ego. Unwarranted criticism helps no one, but your ego.

+A critic should make every attempt to demonstrate that they have the best intentions should the artist become defensive.
-But don't try to passify the artist by giving their work a compliment so that you may continue the critique.
Note: This is why the concept of the "critique sandwich" is a hit or miss concept. Some find it reduces defensiveness, others find is to be a patronizing waste of time.

+Critique is concise. Adhere to the "Rule of Threes". Don't give the artist too much to work with.
-Critique is not overloading. There is such a thing as too much critique and that is when you have given the artist too much to chew on. They become confused and angry and they were probably better off without your critique in the first place.
Note: When some artists have an overabundance of choice, it's hard to come up with anything because a direction for the art is not given. Being given too much information in a critique will have a similar effect. We'll call it the, "Overabundance of Freedom Effect."

+Critique is humble. You don't know everything. Turns out they might know more about a subject than you and in those cases accept it and move on.
-Critique however, is also not a pushover. If you suspect the artist responded with an insincere explanation of why your critique was invalid, ask them to explain again or go further into it because you don't understand what they meant (Even if you do understand what they meant and know it was a bullshit answer). This will have the benefit of making the artist think more about their answer instead of getting defensive because you called them out on their bullshit. Ask them questions like, "What do you mean by that?" or "Could you explain further?"
-Counter counterpoint. Critique is also not arrogant. As such NEVER issue the following responses to an artist explaining their work:
1) Stop being defensive
2) You should be more open minded.
3) You'll never improve without feedback.
It doesn't matter how right you are, what matters is that you were helpful.
Note: As a general rule of thumb, never follow up an artist defending their work from your critique (regardless of their genuineness), by then critiquing the artist themselves.

+Critique is about criticizing the work.
-Critique is not about criticizing the artist.

+Critique is an investment. After a critique is finished, it can go a long way in building a raport with the artist if you ask to follow up with them in future works.
-Critique is not a driveby. Do not mindlessly hand out critique. Especially if you're good at it. You can be overwhelmed with artists coming to you for your insight on their work. Eventually you may have to tell one of them that you don't have the time. This can break down a raport over time.
Note: Again follow the "Rule of Threes". Stick to just three artists and critiquing them.

+Critique the new. You will get the best effect this way. If you critique something an artist did two years ago, you might wind up giving them advice that they learned one year ago.
-Do not critique the TOO new. Don't jump on a piece of work that JUST came out. The artist may still be married to it. Wait for the work to stop being their baby. Generally this can take a day or three if they're a very explorative artist and are ready to move onto something different. But it can take up to a week for someone who has established their style.

So that's my list. Now I'm aware it's not an exhaustive list and it's certainly may not be universal so if you think I missed anything or think something is wrong then please mention it in personal notes! I'd love to hear from you and expand my own understanding of critique and how to give it!

Now to put this study into practice, I'll have a few of my works here. I'd ask that you pick one and critique it. This decision is not entirely an ego trip. It's just tasteless to critique behind an artists back and they would never receive the benefit of that critique, so we'll stick with my work. But I know myself, and I know there's nothing anything you guys could say that would legitimately piss me off, so I will occasionally play devil's advocate and get defensive, because that will inevitably happen in critique somewhere along the lines, best you get used to it in a controlled environment!

I'll try to cover the entire range of how an artist might react to critique but as I said I might miss a few things! But without further ado pick an image and get to critiquing it:


"Do you get my Point?"

"Battle of Duty Field"


Otterest Sergal evah!
Honestly, always thought "Critique" Was the French word for Cricket.....


I just roll with the 'critique sandwich' it always seemed the more friendly way of doing things. But people these days don't really wish for feedback so I'v stop bothering a looooong time ago . As for your request to critique your works ... its at that point where I feel useless and I have noting to offer sorry. Those like like professionally finished works to me.

I think if you're just looking to gather experience regarding critiquing people you're better off trying to find people that wish for this feedback instead of 'reverse engineering' like this.
DA and FA are options, you can always ask the artists and give them feedback in private by notes. There are also Conceptart.org and Pollycount. I remember Conceptart as a place where people used to go to for extremely brutal feedback. Pollycount isnt much different although I havent looked much at heir 2D zone.

There are a couple of youtubers that also have communities for critiquing as a lot of people still wish to get into AAA game concept art, 2 I know names off right off the bat are Cbrush and Sycra's , but I'm sure there's more.


Sycra Forum


New Member
I know you touched on it, but I wanted to emphasise further - give critique when asked! All the above advice is useless if the artist feels affronted by the fact that you even feel the need to leave critique when not invited to.
Unwarranted critique is often also unwelcome. If an artist wants critique, they'll ask for it - and most artists will ask for critique at some point. For example, I'll occasionally I'll post art and ask followers to give critique on it if they can; if I can tell something's "off" with the piece, for example.
Artists are always seeking to improve, so they'll quite often seek critique. Good artists aren't afraid to self-evaluate and acknowledge when they're unhappy with their work, or admit the need for improvement. This is true even for inexperienced artists! So generally artists will ask for critique on occasion.

But unsought critique can be a downer at best. If you see an artwork that you know could be improved, perhaps direct message the person asking if they'd like critique on it. Commenting on it publicly and without invitation can come off as rude, even if you've got the best intentions.
This is partly from experience (feeling good about a piece only to have someone comment critique and pick it apart, thus making me feel bad about it), and partly from conversations with other artists (most friends I've spoken to about it feel the same way).

Another point is, every artist I've ever known, seen, spoken to, followed etc has had some level of insecurity about their own work. It's super common. There's no need to tell an artist their work isn't perfect - they're well aware of it, sometimes hyperaware to the point of detrimental (a big aspect of artistic growth is overcoming your own harsh judgement). Nobody's more critical of an artwork than its artist, as they say. I'm not saying to baby artists' egos, but at least be mindful of the fact that artists are in no way ignorant of how their work may benefit from improvement.
In one way, I guess you could look at critique as less of pointing out flaws to an artist, and more giving them a fresh overview from a different set of eyes. They may be well aware of flaws, but perhaps less sure of exactly what all of them are or how to fix them. If your outlook can help, then that's providing good critique.

If folks ask for critique, by all means please give it! It'll be welcome, especially if it's in-depth and thoughtful as you're advising.
But otherwise, it's perhaps best to not say anything or at least ask privately if they'd like critique.