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"Quick PSA for writing a critique", 18th May 2017, 4:10 AM #1
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yoooo I'll keep this concise, but I just wanted to emphasize what y'all've probably heard a million trillion quadrillion-illion times: make an effort to use the sandwich method when directly critiquing someone. Begin with good points, put negative points in the middle, and then end with good points. I realize the best case scenario is that the person being critiqued is tough and insensitive to constructive criticism; but if that's not the case, it's not the fault of the critique-ee (unless he/she retaliates negatively.)

This wasn't targeting anybody or anything, I just thought that it's very relevant here and should be emphasized. \ovo
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18th May 2017, 4:43 AM #2
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so, sugar coat it? :D
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18th May 2017, 5:04 AM #3
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Yes, I like the sandwich method. It can be misinterpreted as being "overly nice", but in actuality I'd say it's more effective. People forget that while constructive criticism is very important and the "meat" of the sandwich, it can be demoralizing if not coupled with approval of what the individual is doing right. You need the critique part for their improvement, and the the other ends of the "sandwich" to let 'em now they are still progressing and doing certain things right.
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18th May 2017, 5:04 AM #4
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I don't know how many people here have actually gone to art school (not that it's a necessary prerequisite), but giving a critique like that tends to not really necessarily help or steer the intended recipient towards improving their craft.

The issue here, is largely wording. A critique shouldn't be "good" and "negative", it should be to the point and thorough. More experienced artists avoid these terms and try to avoid making things subjective (i.e. personal tastes such as style) when giving critiques. Experienced artists can separate the art from the artist, and experienced artists can also separate their own work from themselves and take critiques as statements meant to improve their work, not a personal attack.
I had a really, really good art direction teacher who used to be an art director at EA. He's done this for 20 years, and his critiques were fucking awesome because he kept everything objective in his critiques, and also sat down and helped students understand the issues they were having (for example, you're having issues with anatomy in figure drawing, you have the basic idea, but you need to focus on form and shape. To help you improve, you should draw the basic shapes, then work up. With practice and observation, you will improve.).

Giving a critique like "I like the way you draw z, but I don't really like x or y" isn't really a critique. A good majority of people really don't really make great critiques because they largely base them on their own biases. Critiques should be objective, not subjective. Art critics rip artists new assholes because they make subjective observations, and base them off their own tastes.
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18th May 2017, 5:08 AM #5
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It's also worthwhile to make a few other points that are rarely made on this topic:

- If someone is not asking for a critique, don't give them one. A good critique takes time and effort, and that could be better invested in places where it is wanted.

- Critique does not equal criticism. It's this unfortunate conflation of terms that tends to set people on a negative path for critique, which is not its purpose.

- Be aware that no one is ever obligated to appreciate, validate, or even accept your critique or opinion. You have the right to have it; that's about as far as it goes.

- Concentrating on positive and constructive things will actually force most people to do a better analysis. The overwhelming tendency is to pick out negatives and things one does not like, so making yourself focus positively will also require, with most people, a greater effort and better outcome.

- You may not understand what the creator intended in their work, as much as you think you might. Be flexible and allow for the very real possibility that your different perspectives can mean you're not on the same page with each other.

- Acknowledge that the work may not be for you. If you essentially want the author to do something completely different because you dislike many things about what they're doing, maybe you should just read something else.

The original poster here, in my opinion, has a pretty sound rule of thumb: start off with something positive, address negatives reasonably, and end on a positive note if you want to maximize your chances of the critique being appreciated and taken well. But please also consider that critique should require effort, and please keep these points in mind that I've addressed. None of us can presume to be the ultimate authority on a story someone else is writing and presenting to us, we can only give our personal thoughts and opinions about what we might do differently.

I agree to a point that critique should be as objective and helpful as possible, but let's be real here: art is about as subjective as it gets. It's an expression shaped by personal perspective and experience, at least if an artist has developed personal style and has a creative voice.

If you're critiquing someone, you're implicitly stating that you know how to do it better than they do, and you should be willing to back this up -- and I agree, it's great to have people who will critique and offer help improving if the artist wishes it -- or don't make the critique in the first place. It's not helpful to say "you need to improve at this" but not actually let them know how, or what you view as improvement...and unfortunately there are far too many ignorant would-be critics that harp on photorealism as some lofty end goal, without understanding that this is not the goal for many artists. More of that "fine arts" delusion creeping in.

A useful critique depends on the critic and the artist being on the same page, or at least understanding each other's perspectives and where they're coming from in what they're trying to do. That doesn't happen too frequently, which is something rarely admitted. Hopefully, people will learn from the mistakes of years past and eventually, one day, we might get a good, healthy, and above all useful trend of critique!

One can hope.
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18th May 2017, 5:13 AM #6
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WanderingJew:I don't know how many people here have actually gone to art school (not that it's a necessary prerequisite), but giving a critique like that tends to not really necessarily help or steer the intended recipient towards improving their craft.

The issue here, is largely wording. A critique shouldn't be "good" and "negative", it should be to the point and thorough. More experienced artists avoid these terms and try to avoid making things subjective (i.e. personal tastes such as style) when giving critiques. Experienced artists can separate the art from the artist, and experienced artists can also separate their own work from themselves and take critiques as statements meant to improve their work, not a personal attack.
I had a really, really good art direction teacher who used to be an art director at EA. He's done this for 20 years, and his critiques were fucking awesome because he kept everything objective in his critiques, and also sat down and helped students understand the issues they were having (for example, you're having issues with anatomy in figure drawing, you have the basic idea, but you need to focus on form and shape. To help you improve, you should draw the basic shapes, then work up. With practice and observation, you will improve.).

Giving a critique like "I like the way you draw z, but I don't really like x or y" isn't really a critique. A good majority of people really don't really make great critiques because they largely base them on their own biases. Critiques should be objective, not subjective. Art critics rip artists new assholes because they make subjective observations, and base them off their own tastes.


I can see why you would believe this and I have met a lot of people who disagree with my stance on this. I see where you are coming from and honestly from experience I would say no nonsense critiques are very motivating, but I'm still not sure. And just because you couple a critique with positives doesn't mean those positives are insincere or not objective. I take inspiration from a book I read called "Focus" that highlights two different types of motivation mindsets and how using both of them is very important.
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18th May 2017, 5:22 AM #7
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as an artist, you need to be able to take criticism in any form. constructive criticism can be harsh sometimes, but it is intended to help the recipient grow. it's not meant to be mean or antagonizing.

you can't tell people only the good things and then sneak in the bad things, hoping that it gets through to them. they need to know what to apply themselves to instead of being told to perpetuate bad habits.

that's not to say that every critique should be unrelenting harsh criticism, but there should be some of that interspersed throughout. if someone really wants themselves to be taken seriously as an artist and wants to improve their art, they should be open to receive actual advice on how to improve if they ask for it.
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18th May 2017, 5:25 AM #8
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WanderingJew:I don't know how many people here have actually gone to art school (not that it's a necessary prerequisite), but giving a critique like that tends to not really necessarily help or steer the intended recipient towards improving their craft.

The issue here, is largely wording. A critique shouldn't be "good" and "negative", it should be to the point and thorough. More experienced artists avoid these terms and try to avoid making things subjective (i.e. personal tastes such as style) when giving critiques. Experienced artists can separate the art from the artist, and experienced artists can also separate their own work from themselves and take critiques as statements meant to improve their work, not a personal attack.
I had a really, really good art direction teacher who used to be an art director at EA. He's done this for 20 years, and his critiques were fucking awesome because he kept everything objective in his critiques, and also sat down and helped students understand the issues they were having (for example, you're having issues with anatomy in figure drawing, you have the basic idea, but you need to focus on form and shape. To help you improve, you should draw the basic shapes, then work up. With practice and observation, you will improve.).

Giving a critique like "I like the way you draw z, but I don't really like x or y" isn't really a critique. A good majority of people really don't really make great critiques because they largely base them on their own biases. Critiques should be objective, not subjective. Art critics rip artists new assholes because they make subjective observations, and base them off their own tastes.


Everything you've said might be entirely true, but the issue of objectivity isn't the problem I've observed here. Unless you have an argument against it, my point is that positive points should go before and after negative points. Positive points should be mentioned to add clarity and to motivate the artist to keep doing whatever it is they're doing right. Yes, more experienced artists can separate the art from the artist, but this is an amateur site and not everyone here is experienced.

Of course, if you think another method is better, I'm no one to say it's wrong. I just think the sandwich method is best in the forums of comicfury dot com. Maybe I'm too careful with people (although I doubt that's the case.)
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18th May 2017, 5:28 AM #9
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keltyzoid!:as an artist, you need to be able to take criticism in any form. constructive criticism can be harsh sometimes, but it is intended to help the recipient grow. it's not meant to be mean or antagonizing.

you can't tell people only the good things and then sneak in the bad things, hoping that it gets through to them. they need to know what to apply themselves to instead of being told to perpetuate bad habits.

that's not to say that every critique should be unrelenting harsh criticism, but there should be some of that interspersed throughout. if someone really wants themselves to be taken seriously as an artist and wants to improve their art, they should be open to receive actual advice on how to improve if they ask for it.



I agree. I wish everyone didn't take critiques personally (not just in the realm of art). I'm not suggesting anyone hold back criticism for the sake of not hurting people's egos, but I still believe positive feedback (not kiss-@ssing or cushioning), is good to highlight where people are doing well. If you tell someone what the flaws of their art are and also give them honest feedback on where they are doing well or improving, they can still garner a more realistic mental schema of where they are in terms of overall progression as an artist. It's not about cushioning a blow, more as to give them third person feedback that is positive and unbiased along with the negative.
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18th May 2017, 5:32 AM #10
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The thing is, no artist is obligated to take any criticism at any time if they do not choose to do so. This assumption that artists of all types have to accept the opinions of others, regardless, is quite frankly toxic nonsense. And if you think that constructive criticism and trying to concentrate on positives (such as, for example, "you have a sound grasp of anatomy, I hope you'll keep pursuing and developing that skill") is perpetuating bad habits...then I can't agree with your critical philosophy. But I've more than adequately outlined my own above.

Unrelenting harsh criticism is not required for critique. Criticism, as I pointed out, does not equal critique. People assume that because they confuse the two terms, that's basically what it is; it's led to just lazy opinion-tossing that is too frequently pushed on artists that don't know better under the flag of "as an artist, you need to take criticism."

I will agree that if they ask for it, yes, they're soliciting critique. And if it's real advice on improvement by someone willing to invest time and actual effort, that's the best case scenario! But no artist, whether or not they've asked for it, is ever required to agree with your critique, to accept your critique, or to validate your critique.

There's a funny double standard that exists, where artists are always expected to accept and embrace critique from people, whether or not it's solicited or even anywhere close to applicable...but critiques are almost never examined in the same way. Everyone expects to just be able to critique freely and, regardless of quality, applicability, or solicitation, insist on it being clasped to an artist's busom.

No thank you.
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18th May 2017, 5:35 AM #11
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Sovember:I can see why you would believe this and I have met a lot of people who disagree with my stance on this. I see where you are coming from and honestly from experience I would say no nonsense critiques are very motivating, but I'm still not sure. And just because you couple a critique with positives doesn't mean those positives are insincere or not objective. I take inspiration from a book I read called "Focus" that highlights two different types of motivation mindsets and how using both of them is very important.


It differs from artist to artist, but there's also many different things that need to be taken into account. The most important of these being the artist's self-discipline, maturity (both in art and as a person), and willingness to work and improve while being aware of their issues. Maturity also allows the artist to separate themselves from their work, while still retaining ownership of it.

If you completely point out "positive" aspects and avoid "negative" aspects, it can be interpreted as ass pats or sugar coating and completely misses the point of what is wrong and what is right in an image. Intentional or not, it can be misleading.
Understand, this angle is coming from a classical art background, in which the fundamentals of art are practiced and mastered first and foremost before one attempts to go off and do their own thing or style. Which, if you are a SERIOUS artist and intend to do this as a job or get it farther than a hobby, you need to understand and master those art fundamentals. Most people who give critiques do not have that understanding and do not stress the importance of mastering art fundamentals.

And, you also need to understand, when you receive a genuine critique, the experience of the person giving the critique is extremely important because it validates their word. An experienced and mature artist who takes their stuff seriously isn't going to give a rat's ass if some random hippy off the street gives them a critique. "Who are you and why does it matter? What experience do you have and why should I care? Why should I listen to your critique when I can talk to someone who gives it to me a straight answer and not try to emotionally appeal to me?"

I think you are mistaking honesty with feelings.
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18th May 2017, 5:40 AM #12
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hushicho:The thing is, no artist is obligated to take any criticism at any time if they do not choose to do so. This assumption that artists of all types have to accept the opinions of others, regardless, is quite frankly toxic nonsense. And if you think that constructive criticism and trying to concentrate on positives (such as, for example, "you have a sound grasp of anatomy, I hope you'll keep pursuing and developing that skill") is perpetuating bad habits...then I can't agree with your critical philosophy. But I've more than adequately outlined my own above.

Unrelenting harsh criticism is not required for critique. Criticism, as I pointed out, does not equal critique. People assume that because they confuse the two terms, that's basically what it is; it's led to just lazy opinion-tossing that is too frequently pushed on artists that don't know better under the flag of "as an artist, you need to take criticism."

I will agree that if they ask for it, yes, they're soliciting critique. And if it's real advice on improvement by someone willing to invest time and actual effort, that's the best case scenario! But no artist, whether or not they've asked for it, is ever required to agree with your critique, to accept your critique, or to validate your critique.

There's a funny double standard that exists, where artists are always expected to accept and embrace critique from people, whether or not it's solicited or even anywhere close to applicable...but critiques are almost never examined in the same way. Everyone expects to just be able to critique freely and, regardless of quality, applicability, or solicitation, insist on it being clasped to an artist's busom.

No thank you.

no, i don't think that people should be open to critique 24/7. i tried to clarify that it's acceptable if requested!

your example isn't my definition of "perpetuating bad habits," but it is a kinder way of telling someone to work on their skills.

perpetuating: "Wow, your art is goals. so good, i love it, keep it up!"
helpful: "your anatomy is pretty decent, but there's a few disproportionate parts here and here, so maybe take a few moments out of the day to practice drawing the form?" etc
not helpful: "this is terrible."

edit: WanderingJew nailed it
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18th May 2017, 5:43 AM #13
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I've had "formal training" in the sense of art courses/major so I've gone through my fair share of critiques. As such, I'm of the camp that there is not an improper way of giving a critique. You make/post art, people have the right to talk about it. It's up to you (as a creator) to determine if you want to listen.
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18th May 2017, 5:47 AM #14
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WanderingJew:If you completely point out "positive" aspects and avoid "negative" aspects, it can be interpreted as ass pats or sugar coating and completely misses the point of what is wrong and what is right in an image. Intentional or not, it can be misleading.


We're not talking "avoiding" negative aspects. They're still very much there. Are you concerned that the artist will forget that they're there, or not take them seriously?

WanderingJew:Why should I listen to your critique when I can talk to someone who gives it to me a straight answer and not try to emotionally appeal to me?"


You can give a straight answer and still emotionally appeal at the same time. Giving positive points isn't exactly beating around the bush because they still have legitimate uses other than softening the blow of negatives
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18th May 2017, 5:49 AM #15
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WanderingJew:It differs from artist to artist, but there's also many different things that need to be taken into account. The most important of these being the artist's self-discipline, maturity (both in art and as a person), and willingness to work and improve while being aware of their issues. Maturity also allows the artist to separate themselves from their work, while still retaining ownership of it.

If you completely point out "positive" aspects and avoid "negative" aspects, it can be interpreted as ass pats or sugar coating and completely misses the point of what is wrong and what is right in an image. Intentional or not, it can be misleading.
Understand, this angle is coming from a classical art background, in which the fundamentals of art are practiced and mastered first and foremost before one attempts to go off and do their own thing or style. Which, if you are a SERIOUS artist and intend to do this as a job or get it farther than a hobby, you need to understand and master those art fundamentals. Most people who give critiques do not have that understanding and do not stress the importance of mastering art fundamentals.

And, you also need to understand, when you receive a genuine critique, the experience of the person giving the critique is extremely important because it validates their word. An experienced and mature artist who takes their stuff seriously isn't going to give a rat's ass if some random hippy off the street gives them a critique. "Who are you and why does it matter? What experience do you have and why should I care? Why should I listen to your critique when I can talk to someone who gives it to me a straight answer and not try to emotionally appeal to me?"

I think you are mistaking honesty with feelings.


In the context of art school an artist should know what to expect and better be emotionally mature as well proactive and objective. Most people don't implement this "sandwich" method so it's not wise to expect or need positive validation in any critique. Still, that being said, not everyone who gives critiques is being purely constructive, the pendulum can swing to the other side as well. The ideal I'm suggesting is giving an objective critique that mostly focuses on the negative aspects of the art piece (since these will be the most fruitful part of the critique), but still pointing out positives as well (not to soften the blow, but because an artist improving is something that should be incorporated in the overall feedback. I never said you should completely point out positives. That wouldn't even be a critique haha.
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18th May 2017, 5:50 AM #16
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Van Husk I:I've had "formal training" in the sense of art courses/major so I've gone through my fair share of critiques. As such, I'm of the camp that there is not an improper way of giving a critique. You make/post art, people have the right to talk about it. It's up to you (as a creator) to determine if you want to listen.


Yeah, there is no real "right" or "wrong" (unless someone is being blatantly rude and insulting) but there is still "best" and "not as effective."
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18th May 2017, 5:51 AM #17
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Well now that comes into the territory of subjective opinion.
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18th May 2017, 5:53 AM #18
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Van Husk I:I've had "formal training" in the sense of art courses/major so I've gone through my fair share of critiques. As such, I'm of the camp that there is not an improper way of giving a critique. You make/post art, people have the right to talk about it. It's up to you (as a creator) to determine if you want to listen.


That's a good point too. I'm not saying that everyone should drop the way they're critiquing and start forcing positives, just that I don't see anything wrong with sandwich method if someone does critique that way
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18th May 2017, 5:53 AM #19
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Van Husk I:Well now that comes into the territory of subjective opinion.


It does and that's probably why there's a discussion here. lol
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18th May 2017, 6:04 AM #20
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Even if a critique isn't harsh- if someone told me "you need to improve on EVERYTHING" I wouldn't have gotten anywhere because... where would I start? How would I know what the most important issue to focus on is?

And by extension, every time I give a critique (which is often), I make sure to mention at least a few things that the creator doesn't need to improve on- no need to fix what isn't broken, after all.

I usually don't use the SANDWICH method per se, because I feel like one good thing, a huge chunk of bad things, and one good thing is less readable and more discouraging than having the good sprinkled in with the bad. But that's just me.

Also, I don't give critiques to people who don't ask for it, at least on this site. There's a critique section of the forums for a reason. If people truly cared about improving, they would make a thread asking for some specific advice, sign-up in a thread of someone offering critiques, or wait for a review-for-review trade thread (subtle wink).
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