Do you hate it when people ask you to leave comments on their work, and you want to, but you don’t know what to say? Are you at a loss for words when you see a picture you love? Are you unsure of how to tell people to just keep practising? I had the idea some time ago to type up a simple guide on leaving comments. That is, leaving them as I often try to leave them myself. I’m not saying this is the right way and the only way. These are simply my thoughts on it. Tell me what you think of it all.

All right, so you find a piece of art you want to comment on. What first? Well, I find that a good comment can be divided into sections. Generally, if it’s someone I know nothing about, I start with a compliment, give my thoughts/critiquing (if they encourage it), and end with a compliment. This way, it’s more likely to stick in their mind if they see the overall comment as ‘friendly’.

Let’s look at different areas of leaving comments:

Why do you personally like the picture?
In other words, why did you click on the thumbnail/link? Was it the colours that draw you in? Was it the fact that the thumbnail view looked real, though it was really a digital painting? Was it the subjects of the image that appealed to you? If so, state these things. Tell the person what you like about the image, and that will encourage them to do more of it.

Why do you personally dislike the picture?
It sounds odd, but sometimes I say what I dislike (I don’t say hate) about the picture. In other words, what is it about the image that bothers you, though you may find it impressive overall. It may be that the image is too blurry. It may be too big, or too small. It may be that the person simply slacked off during the making of the picture. State these things, but remember, it’s better to say ‘I think’, as you are stating your thoughts on the image.

What could be improved?
Alternatively, or at the same time, you can tell someone how to improve their work. In my eyes, critique is NOT JUST telling someone what’s wrong with their work. It is telling them what is wrong with it, and informing them of how to fix it. Saying ‘The eye looks odd’ helps nobody. If they drew the eye that way, they most likely don’t know how to draw it properly, so you just wasted a comment. Analysing the works of others also greatly helps you to analyse your own works.

What’s an empty compliment?
What’s an empty compliment? Sometimes you want to say something nice about the image, but if you are fussy with appeal in art, you may find yourself hating someone’s image they put lots of effort into. If this is the case, instead of saying what you think is good, say what is generally good. For example; if you hate red, but they used red very well in the image, say so. You don’t have to like red to be able to see how well they utilised the colour.

They want a comment on a stylisation/category I dislike. What do I say?
Again, I say dislike, not hate. What happens if you dislike photography but a good friend asks for feedback on a photo of theirs? Expand your mind. You don’t have to like it to see what’s good about it. Arrange your words carefully (comments can stick around for a looooooooong time, ya know) and always try to compliment.

What happens if they are so untalented I want to tell them to give up?
Never tell someone to stop drawing. Talent untested is talent wasted. If, in your eyes, they could do with a helluva lot of improvement, simply look at the above things. Is the image so bad that there is not a gathering of specks that you like? I seriously doubt that. Tell people to keep trying, and if they do look bad, go through the rest of their gallery to actually see if it’s an improvement from old works.

How do I tell how good this image is for their standards?
It’s simple. Look at their gallery. Many people, when seeing an image, take a person to be one of two things. First, they assume the artist is a professional so popular they don’t need another comment on their work. Second, they assume the artist is a rookie so bad that comments won’t help. Both are untrue. Everybody here on dA is a growing and learning artist (everyone that does art, anyway), so treat them that way. If the image is good for their standards, say it! Compliment on progress! Tell them they have talent! Really, everyone has untapped talent inside them anyway.

What’s a raw comment?
A raw comment is like the following example; “It’s too blurry”. As useful as the person saying it may think that comment is, it is rather… well, raw. If an image is blurry, it needs sharper detail. Tell them to do sharper detail. Don’t tell them their image is too blurry. On this topic, I once received such a comment, and since then I’ve tried to make my images sharper. I also received one saying my images were too large, so since then I’ve made them smaller. Raw comments may be useful, but overall they are uninteresting and hard to take seriously.

Another example of a raw comment is something like ‘It looks good/great/fantastic/lovely/stupid’. I almost never reply to these comments, as it would simply be ‘thankyou’ and they would reply ‘you’re welcome’. Now that is raw. The artist learnt nothing but that the person liked the work. However, if they really liked it that much, why did they leave such an interesting comment? Well, hence my making this little tutorial is so people can share their thoughts.

I just read all this and it went straight through my head.
I do that a lot, aye. Just look at the summarised list below, and I hope I’ve helped you help others grow with their artwork.

  • What do you like about the picture?
  • What do you dislike about the picture?
  • What can be improved?
  • You don’t have to like it to think it’s good.
  • Never tell people to stop drawing.
  • Is the image good for their standards?
  • Do you really want to leave a raw comment?

And that’s my thoughts (summarised) on this matter. I hope I helped people out there, and I can only assume many of you read this and learnt something. Actually, that’s another good point. It’s difficult and annoying to assume people are reading your things. Likewise, it’s difficult to assume an artist is reading every single comment you put on each and every one of their images. So, really, it is best to assume people read your comments/journals/whatnot, and be content with that.

Until next time, my sunshines and moonshadows.


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