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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 second commenting workshop on balance!


What makes a balanced comment? When we receive a constructive comment, we gather a large amount of information. A balanced constructive comment can help us determine the aspects of our work that need improvement, and the aspects that should be kept the same. Consequently, commenters wield a lot of power, and we are not being cheesy when we say that with great power, comes great responsibility. As commenters, we are responsible for providing a constructive comment that is balanced for the artist to not only work on the things that require improvement, but also continue with the things that are already effective. This joint approach provides a more well-rounded constructive comment so we can maintain a balance between advice (for improvement) and encouragement for the artist.

How would we make this comment more 'balanced'?
The edges on the ears are rough and the hand anatomy is wrong. The color scheme is limited and the purple shading makes certain aspects look weird.
As an artist, we may ask ourselves these questions:
  • Are there any aspects that should be kept the same or was done well?
  • How can I benefit from advice and encouragement?
  • What is the commenter's overall opinion of the piece?

As a commenter, perhaps there is more we could add:

  • What first attracts us to this piece? When we first saw this piece, what made it appealing?
  • What aspects were done effectively and is there any relation between the aspects that were effective and the aspects that need improvement?
  • Is encouragement necessary? Would encouragement help the artist?

We believe that encouragement is just as important as advice. In fact, ProjectComment did a poll on the kind of comments our members prefer. 45% members prefer positive comments, but this is balanced out by the need to include suggestions for improvement, while 37% prefer a comment that is equally positive and negative, with suggestions for improvement. As a comparison, only 15% wanted just positive comments, while 84% wanted comments with suggestions for improvement.

Therefore, it is not only important to balance comments by pointing out the things done effectively and not effectively, most artists would also like comments to be balanced with suggestions for improvement.


Acknowledge what should be improved and help guide them.

There is always room for improvement, or, if you cannot find anything for the artist to improve on, suggest alternatives or possibilities that the artist could experiment with for future works. To bring up our previous workshop, guiding others to improve is key to ensuring success. Providing a path to follow by linking resources can help artists secure their understanding of our advice. As the commenter, we can apply this same path of improvement to ourselves and our own work. Additionally, we refine our analytical skills and develop a trained eye for appealing art or literature. To learn more about guidance, and how we can use it to expand our ability to comment, check out our previous workshop here.
"...The hand looks a bit out of shape, or rather, the perspective is off a bit. It looks too small to me. Normally a reference picture would help with things like this, or take a picture of yourself (as odd as they may be) and compare hand to head shape. The shading on the right ear I believe (the viewer's left) needs more purple shading..."

Encourage good practices.

There must be something that the artist has done well. If there isn't, perhaps the artist is on the right path regarding their skills or development. Maybe the artist is approaching their art in a helpful way, a way they can build upon. Whatever it is, we should encourage artists, whether we encourage them for their use of certain techniques, their perspective or approach, or success with a particular skill. This helps the artist move on to other matters that require improvement, rather than dwelling over the concepts that we believe we have yet to grasp (but, in others' eyes, we have actually grasped it!).

It is all too easy to be our own worst critic. We may be too harsh or too attached to certain aspects, such that we do not truly see what we are doing right. How can we correctly encourage ourselves in this case? We have to learn what to keep changing and what to stop altering, so we can develop a style or a habit when creating art. As commenters, we can use our 'outsider position' to approach and appreciate other people's work, and we can also note down similar ideas and techniques that confirm our own development of good habits.
"...This is a neat drawing. Making the line art pop out with the darker shade than the base really helps here. We can clearly see the character. The shading and colors used in this are also rather very well done. The mix of cool and warm colors helps I think, especially with the background where you go from a warm color to a cool color..."

Make a sandwich!

DeviantArt's digital platform creates worries, concerns, anxieties and more about our comments. You are not alone if you are not fully confident about how your comment may be interpreted, or, to flip it, how to interpret a comment. Whether you are the artist or the commenter, maybe the comment seems too harsh, unhelpful or something else entirely. Our typed text lacks vocal tone, body language, animation and exclamation, such that comments can lead to misunderstandings.

Therefore, in order to prevent such misunderstandings, consider making a sandwich. Introduce the comment with a positive aspect from the piece (what first appealed to you or attracted you to the piece). Then, acknowledge the things that should be improved about the piece and suggest solutions to improve them. Finally, analyze the piece overall and encourage techniques that positively add to the piece. Rather than focusing solely on the first impression, or the necessary improvements, or even the good techniques, we can maintain a balance of all of these aspects.
"Making the line art pop out with the darker shade than the base really helps here... Everything looks to be in order, however there are a few things that could be touched upon. The hand looks a bit out of shape, or rather, the perspective is off a bit... You did a good job with the face, and everything looks to be in order so far. The hair is also a nice touch-it's not blocky but rather made of strands and wavy..."
As commenters, what do we aim to do? If we want to lead artists to success, we can give a balanced comment to help them know what they are doing effectively, what they are not doing effectively, and how they can advance their work.

DoubleDandE, Dec 18, 2015: First off I have to say this is a neat drawing. Making the line art pop out with the darker shade than the base really helps here. We can clearly see the character. The shading and colors used in this are also rather very well done. The mix of cool and warm colors helps I think, especially with the background where you go from a warm color to a cool color. The eyes look rather well done, especially the colors in them. You did a good job with the face, and everything looks to be in order so far. The hair is also a nice touch-it's not blocky but rather made of strands and wavy. 

 Everything looks to be in order, however there are a few things that could be touched upon. The hand looks a bit out of shape, or rather, the perspective is off a bit. It looks too small to me. Normally a reference picture would help with things like this, or take a picture of yourself (as odd as they may be) and compare hand to head shape. The shading on the right ear I believe (the viewer's left) needs more purple shading. I like how you've added the blue and purple colors to this piece, and I think that ear could use a bit more purple to make it pop out with definition a bit like the other ear. 

Overall great job with this. You certainly have taken note of things to fix, and I overall like the final product. You get two thumbs up from me. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

How are you encouraged by this comment?

If you received this comment, what would you continue to do the same in your next piece?
What would you do differently?



Check out our other Commenting Workshops!
:bulletgreen: Guidance

Add a Comment:
 
:icontaintedtruffle:
TaintedTruffle Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
As someone who's new to critiquing other people's work Therese are always interesting and helpful to read when you post them :)
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:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I am glad to be of help!! ^^
Reply
:iconprincessscissors:
PrincessScissors Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2016  Student General Artist
So I really like giving critiques and the people I give them to seem to really like them, but they tend to be around 500-900 words. Is that too long? No one says anything about it but most of the critiques I see are like only at 120 words.
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:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh no not at all!! That is actually really great!! Being able to give such an expansive and well thought out comment is helpful, and tends to make the artist feel good. They can see that you really observed their work and took the time and effort to help them and critique it. Just because the other critiques are smaller, doesn't mean yours has to be. It just means you put even more effort and time into yours!! ^^

Keep up the good work!!
Reply
:iconprincessscissors:
PrincessScissors Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2016  Student General Artist
Phew, I'm glad! bunneh icon15 Thanks for the advice!:happy: 
Reply
:icondoubledande:
DoubleDandE Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016   General Artist
I'm surprised to see my comment being used as an example here. Is this good or bad? 
Reply
:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Its good. We are using it as a good example of balance in a constructive comment! ^^ :thumbsup:
Reply
:icondoubledande:
DoubleDandE Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2016   General Artist
Oh, well thank you then. :) 
Reply
:iconmegan1289:
Megan1289 Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Student Writer
I remember my critique making a BIG difference on someone's art and I just felt amazed at what a single comment could do.
Reply
:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The power of a comment. It can help, encourage, and enlighten. It can change their life in a way, should art be their life. I am glad you had that experience!! It can be so great for both the artist and the commenter!! ^^
Reply
:iconpawcanada:
pawcanada Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
In my experience, outside of friends and supporters, I find people tend to forget the positive side of constructive comments. As someone who's trying hard to improve his skills I find that a tad disheartening and at times anxious about sharing my work with people outside of a select circle. Now that's not to say I don't get helpful feedback from said people and I owe a lot of my improvements to them, nor that I am opposed to criticism, but ultimately it is constructive criticism that I am seeking, not "Your art is bad and you should feel bad". It annoys me that people think purely negative comments under the guise of helping is actually helpful.
Reply
:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The bad part is people hear the word critique or criticism, they think it has to be all critical. But that is not what a constructive critique should solely be about. As a community on deviantART and in ProjectComment, we want to encourage people. We want them to know that although there may be things in their art that they could improve, there are things in your art that makes it good, and you should keep making it. An all negative comment does not feel helpful and feels very discouraging for an artist. When it mainly discourages you, that's no help at all.
Reply
:iconpawcanada:
pawcanada Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Exactly, especially on the disheartening side of it. I do think people sometimes fail to appreciate the time, effort and hard work some pours into their art, so to see someone brutally rip apart a piece with a small essay on everything that's bad can be disheartening. I know people say you should develop a thicker skin and while true, I do also feel there are limits to how thick one can make it, especially when first starting out.

It's why I prefer the sandwich method, but also the approach some of my followers take - flagging up two or three flaws even if six or seven exist. By slicing off a portion of what I need to work on, I can get to the others at a later date and once they are sorted. And who knows; maybe I'll naturally fix those flaws anyway.
Reply
:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, and even if you only point out a few flaws, other commenters may point out the other ones. With ProjectComment, we guarantee at least two comments, so that which an artist doesn't point out in their comment, may be pointed out in another.

And with developing a thick skin, like you said, you should only have to make it so thick. We are still all human and have emotions, and although we are being professional in a community, there is a difference between professionalism and plain old tearing a piece apart. I feel the idea of having a thick skin relates more to professionalism. It is your ability to take suggestions and advice and use it rather than seeing it as something against you, while if they are simply tearing the piece apart, that is more than just advice or suggestions.

I do like the idea of not trying to make a laundry list of all the flaws you can find in a piece and telling the artist. Chances are they may already know it or someone else may have told them. It is just about helping them get better, which is the most important part and is something that would be more beneficial in the long run!! ^^
Reply
:iconpawcanada:
pawcanada Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
No offense but can I please ask that you stop bringing up ProjectComment in your responses. I'm enjoying these conversations but I don't appreciate the self advertisement, especially as I've never once submitted a piece to get criticism from the group (I'm uncomfortable giving feedback to others). Sorry but I've rolled my eyes every time you've mentioned it; you come across like you're trying to convince me to stay at a spa or something.

That aside, I agree with you. I've often seen people say "Well my art teacher would literately crap all over a piece of art I spent hours on" (or words to that effect) when they see people complaining - rightly or wrongly - about harsh criticism. Now I get where they're coming from; in some places in the art community harsh criticism is part of the package and I get that. However I also see that as being part of those sides of the art community and for me personally art is a hobby, something I use to escape from my professional environment. And, as you said, there is a difference between tearing apart something in a fashion that seems more malicious.

It's helped me a lot. A number of my supporters know to only bring up two or three problems because they don't want to overwhelm me. As a result I can keep those aspects in mind when I work on the next piece. They know I'll eventually come to the other issues at a later date once I've fixed "the first wave of issues", so they don't raise it then and there.
Reply
:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My apologies. Sweating a little...

And even in the art community, although their is the harsh criticism, there is a limit per-say.  Even in an art community, with an instructor, there is a level of trust and honor gained through a teacher-student relationship (if that makes sense). Like, although they may be "harshly tearing the piece apart" it is their job to help you fix it. They are not going to rip it up and through a student out with the pieces. But in an online community with both professionals and hobbyists, like yourself, there is a limit. We cannot always see each others face, we don't always hear the tone in their voice and we cannot tell whether people are being rude or just trying to help us harshly. We don't know whether people are simply giving feedback on pieces that were made for fun or pieces that are made for a concept for a movie or something. Thus, without this knowledge, we cannot know whether they really want to know every single itty-bitty flaw we can find in a piece as if someones life and job depend on it. often that is not the case.

Once again, in a welcoming online art community with social media, we come to share and welcome new ideas. Often there are people in our lives and jobs who can give us the truly harsh, "tear-it-to-bits" critique we need if it is so necessary and adamant for the job. Fellow social media users are mainly here to bond over common interests and help one another, like classmates in a classroom. :nod:
Reply
:iconpawcanada:
pawcanada Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
It's fine. If anything, I felt I may have been a tad too rude ^^;.

I'll admit I've never really been in that situation with an art teacher (I'm pretty much self taught) so I was more parroting things I'd heard, and it does make more sense that they'd be more encouraging with their feedback than detrimental.

And that's definitely not the case for me. While I want to fix all my flaws I know it would be overwhelming and demotivating to do so. As I said before, I'd rather be told two or three things I can keep in mind for the next piece and then come to an "advanced" element at a later date then try to get good anatomy and poses and avoid "stiff" poses and worry about specific kinds of attention to detail and shading and about five other things I can't think of off the top of my head. I'll worry about making good anatomy and poses now, then I'll worry about attention to detail like clothing folds.
Reply
:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Definitely. And often you usually know what your flaws are. We are always struggling to improve the flaws we already know. It is better if they notice a flaw or two, to focus on those and help you fix it not just try to tell you everything that is wrong with this piece and the next one. (If that makes sense) As a bunch of learning artists, we just need to help each other and simply telling us what is wrong doesn't do anything to really help.

One piece I had, I had multiple people tell me "Oh the hand anatomy is wrong." along with a bunch of other things. Okay, its wrong, but I have no idea how to fix it. I can look at my hand possibly but maybe the fingers need to be longer or the palm is too large. Which hand is wrong? Rather than telling me everything that was wrong, it would have been more beneficial to find out how to fix that flaw than to just know everything that was wrong.
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(1 Reply)
:iconpioneeringauthor:
PioneeringAuthor Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I just want to say that helpful comments that include both negative AND positive are vital for improvement. Thanks to an influx of comments, I re-did my Station of Awakening from this Turquoise Dreamer Station of Awakening by PioneeringAuthor  to this Turquoise Dreamer station of awakening redone by PioneeringAuthor  and I am much happier with it. I still want help in improving it though, so please, everyone, don't be afraid to comment! Not just for me, though, but for everyone! We all need help. 


Thanks again for everything, :iconprojectcomment:
Reply
:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
We are always glad to help!! It is actually really great to see how you improved the piece after receiving feedback!!! Balance in the comments with encouragement and advice can help you improve that piece along with your future work.
Reply
:iconpioneeringauthor:
PioneeringAuthor Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes! It not only helps me see what to fix but also shows me that I'm not a terrible artist after all. Telling people what they do WELL as much as what they need to improve on is very important.
Reply
:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Definitely!! I know sometimes I get so caught up on one little detail or aspect of my art and don't realize that it is actually good and I should move onto something else.
Reply
:iconmarcoabe:
marcoabe Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016
Although I understand I can make my comments better I think the subject of balance is much more complicated and also easier then you describe. And in my opinion, guidelines are more elusive then it looks.

For me each artist is unique, all artworks are unique and both have their own balance. So, as a commenter my own questions are more about the artist and the artwork themselves. And when receiving comment, as my personal experience, the best comments I receive, are not positive or negative based, neither have to be the sandwich, but they are thoughtfull and sincere.

So, a guy saying "Your anatomy is good but take a look on some tutorials about it (link), but good work" for me sounds robotic, cold, and perhaps fake, even with the sandwich... However, a simple "I feel something strange or out of place about your anatomy" is fine, because I wanna know how people really see and feel about my drawings.

Hollow positive comments can be more harmfull then sincere and negative comments.

Encourangement is very important, criticism too, but for a really constructive comment the priority (for me) is the sincerity!

Sorry if I'm being rude, but this is my ideia of balance and I felt I should mention.
Reply
:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh no, that is not at all rude!! With each topic there is always way more depth behind it. That definitely leads to possible future concepts in comments such as connection in the piece. I am definitely glad you shared your ideas because that is the point of the workshop: To get people talking. There is a more truthful response from a comment that is more sincere.
Reply
:iconmomokostar:
MomokoStar Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I normal use the sandwich rule xD for every one thing I say needs a little work I list 2 things that I like :)
Reply
:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I definitely think the sandwich method is very helpful!! It is riveting to leave a constructive comment on someone's work because they may take it terribly (and there is always that risk). But the sandwich method is a good way to make sure you are including both encouragement and advice!! ^^
Reply
:iconmomokostar:
MomokoStar Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
i actually didnt find out it was a thing till later xD i was told at a younge age to always put 2 pieces of evidence for ever one statement in a report nad figured that would work well with talking ppl about things then found out later it works with a lot of things xD 
Reply
:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That is great use of previous knowledge applied!! Often people have used it before actually learning it was a thing or knowing what it was and I am glad you were able to apply it to your comments here!! It is always helpful to apply knowledge from one subject or topic to another. ^^
Reply
:iconmomokostar:
MomokoStar Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
aww :3 thanks ^_^ 
Reply
:iconyukiko-kun:
Yukiko-Kun Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Professional General Artist
Oh, boy, don't I have mixed feelings about it?

Hello, dear, how are you? I hope you're ok.

I can't quite describe my surprise when opening the messege center and seeing it on my inbox. As first I got really excited thinking my art has been highlighted in a group or something, or a comment. ProjectComment features people who make nice comments every month and link a few artworks by them in the description, so my first impression was to think "My, oh, my, I'm so happy someone liked my comment that much!", haha. However, while reading the content of the journal, I noticed you were featuring someone who commented in my drawing and made a tutorial of good comments about it. And so my feelings became... a little bit sour.

Now, I know you had the best of intentions when writing this, but it can't really be helped that I feel a bit upset since the flaws in my work are being pointed out (the example of a rude comment got to my ego quite hard, even). I migh be oversensitive here, but I'll reserve myself the right to, since it's a part of myself up there, so, while you wanted to show people how to not make artists feel bad when commenting, you ended up doing the same thing. 

Since I highly believe you didn't mean to, there goes some tips about how to avoid the situations:

1- Ask for permission.

What got to me the worst was that I had no chance to prepare myself for this kind of exposure. Not only that, but since it shows my flaws, I felt taken advantage of, as if you were using my mistakes to get attention yourself (now, once again, I believe you didn't to it on purpose, but it doesn't really change my feelings. I'm sorry)

2- It's usually better to use your own experience.

I've never seen on DA someone using someone else's art for, let's say, making a coloring tutorial. To avoid conflict if you feel uncomfortable about asking others for permission, it's always better to use your own and your own comment. Of course people don't usually comment on their own pieces, but you could write a hypotetical ideal comment. My main point is, you can always make everything up by yourself, if you don't like to deal with people that much.

That's about it, dear. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Reply
:icon3wyl:
3wyl Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Hey Yuu,

Firstly, there is no need to apologise for the inconvenience. If anything, we apologise if we have insulted or offended you. That was not our intention with this workshop.

We used to feature people and their constructive comments once every week, but astarayel has adapted that feature into something new, more interview-like, with the 'Double-Edged' feature.

Regarding the inclusion of your artwork, if you would like us to remove the piece completely from the article, we would be happy to do that for you.

As you rightly pointed out, we should have asked for your permission. Obviously, not everyone will react the same way, and we really appreciate that you have voiced your concern to us. As a result of you stepping forward and offering a constructive comment on this workshop, you have given us the chance to improve how we do things.

As this is only our second workshop, we will make mistakes. Not everyone will agree with what we have written, and we may cause more offence unintentionally. At the same time, please don't mistake our intentions. No, it can't be helped that you feel a certain way, but what can be helped is what you do after that.

It is understandable to take this personally when it is your work featured, but our primary focus rests on the comments from an objective standpoint. We have only featured your work to clarify things that might have been confusing otherwise. Overall, this article was not written as a critique of your artwork.

We included the example of the 'rude comment' precisely because it wasn't acceptable by ProjectComment. You are within your right to feel and think whatever you want to feel and think, but the focus of the workshop isn't on you or your art. The focus rests on the comments. As I said, you are free to feel and think that we were using your mistakes to get attention ourselves, but that would be a very gross interpretation of our goal with this workshop.

We cannot force anyone to feel bad or good and we do not have control of your emotions. It is understandable to be sensitive of our flaws, but if you only picked that from this workshop on balance, it seems you did not take much from the workshop yourself.

Having said all that, we will take your advice on board. As I said above, we should have asked for your permission. We will ask others' permission in future, and ensure everyone involved is ok with the workshop going forward.

Regarding your second point, that doesn't quite apply to groups. It makes sense for individuals to make tutorials of their own art, but that would be too self-centred for a group where our members are the ones that are making the comments. We could write a hypothetical ideal comment, but real examples of comments from members deserve to be highlighted. We should not have to resort to fake examples given by group admins when there are real examples by our members. Additionally, how would our workshop be effective if we made everything up by ourselves? How would we be able to build from a foundation if the foundation is false?

Overall, everything depends on how you perceive things to be. We looked at it one way, while you looked at it the other. We had no problems with our first workshop, but the fact that this has happened in the second says something that we are willing to improve on. For that, we thank you. I hope that you can give us the same understanding.

3wyl, Founder of ProjectComment
Reply
:iconincognitoartist:
IncognitoArtist Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My apologies. I did not mean to make you feel as such. When we originally designed the workshop, I hadn't planned on featuring the artwork that was commented on as it spotlights anything mentioned. However, often without context, sometimes the comment did not make sense. With discussion with other admins, rather than fabricating a comment, it was believed to be more beneficial and encouraging to use an actual comment rather than one that doesn't exist.

I will make sure to ask for permission next time and apologize for such conduct.
Reply
:iconyukiko-kun:
Yukiko-Kun Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Professional General Artist
I'm glad enough that you understood my point, dear. And I accept your apologies.
Reply
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