For many artists, the only people they can go to to have their work critiqued is by friends or family.
Therefore they must journey to the wild west that is the internet. A place where anyone can give their opinion.
For better or worse.
Time and time again, I see people post their art online and ask for critiques. But there’s a very specific critique I see that always baffles me.
“If You Want to Draw THAT, You Need to Learn How to Draw THIS First”
The person looking to be critiqued will have posted their work online and it will usually be stylized. Be it cartoony or some variant of anime.
They will have posted a little chibi character and the critique they receive will be along the lines of, “If you want to draw chibis, first you have to learn perspective.” Or some other aspect that hardly applies to what they drew.
And they’ll always point to either the work of Scott Robertson, who is a fantastic artist. Or they’ll show work by people such as Kim Jung Gi, and other artists that are insanely skilled.
It’s this inability to critique the picture with who drew it in mind rather than with their own personal taste that drives me crazy. If someone posts art that looks like Fairly Odd Parents, then it should be obvious that they aren’t aiming to draw fighter jets from every conceivable angle nor intend to draw anything that will require a real understanding of anatomy.
Your Critique Should be Tailored to the Individual
I say this because, if it isn’t tailored to them, they’re not going to take the advice.
Pay close attention to how the person asks for a critique. How specific are they getting? If they’re asking what you think then they’re probably looking for praise.
If they ask you how they could draw the eyes better? Or perhaps how to study rendering hair? What they need to do to learn drapery? Or even what book will help them with anatomy?
These are the types of questions that people ask that are really looking for answers.
Your answer does have to fit with what they want out of their art, however.
If they’re trying to draw tanks or perspective heavy things. Point them to someone like Scott Robertson.
If they’re trying to draw Looney Tunes and other classic cartoons, link them to Preston Blair’s Cartoon Animation. Etc.
They don’t have to be, and probably never will be the next Kim Jung Gi. You just have to point them in the right direction to be better than they are now.
A Thing to Remember About Non-Artists
People who aren’t artists, in most cases, lack any ability to differentiate the quality of artwork. If it’s better than they can draw, “it’s good.”
Which is good to know. Create the projects that you want to create and put them out there. Only other artists will judge the quality of the work. That’s a very small percentage of the audience.
If you don’t believe me, look at Rob Liefeld’s work from the 90s, it’s super mangled and messed up looking. However, he was extremely successful and that’s because the majority of people aren’t artists! Don’t let your current skill level keep you from creating the things that you want to create.
This is a part of why friends and family that aren’t artists almost always either say “it’s great!” or “it’s awful because it’s not as good as (insert thing).”
Critique is an important part of learning for multiple reasons. When you work on a piece of art for so long two things can happen. Either your eyes stop seeing certain mistakes, or you’re so intimate with the piece that you know every single error and you can’t NOT see them; skewing how you view the piece objectively.
Having someone critique your work not only allows someone to point out something that you may have missed, but you’ll also be able to see what mistakes they don’t notice. If you trust this person’s critique and they don’t notice it, most other people won’t either.
I hope that this has gave you a better understanding of how to critique someone’s work and point them not in the “right direction”, but the right direction for them.