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From the most novice to the most accomplished, dA is home to artists of all types and skills. This mish-mash of talent, experience, knowledge, and eagerness to learn creates a beautiful opportunity for mentorships between those who are learning and those who are willing to lend their time and patience to a burgeoning new artist or writer. But forming those relationships can be daunting for those looking for help and unfulfilling for those offering that help. 

This is the first of a two part article series that aims to address a few key points of miscommunication that seem to be common between those willing to offer critique and constructive commentary and those seeking feedback. You may have heard that the critique community on deviantART "sucks" or "doesn't exist", but I'll humbly beg to disagree. I've been an active participant in the critique community of dA for going on five years, and I can tell you that it has never been a dormant or non-existant part of this website. Just a severely misunderstood one. ;) 

What is Critique?

In the simplest terms, critique is feedback meant to help a writer or artist improve in their craft. It often contains criticism of a specific aspect of the art ("the hands seem unrealistic") as well as specific feedback about how to improve ("you might want to look at some photographs of hands in the pose you're going for as reference"). Online critiques have the added benefit of being able to provide links to further resources for the artist to read or study. 

Critique is never aimed at a person. It should not include critical statements about the artist's personality, race, religion, sexuality, gender, etc. It should focus solely on the piece of art in question. If you run across comments that are derogatoy or inflammatory toward a particular deviant, it should be reported to deviantART. FAQ #238: How do I report people for abuse, harassment, or another issue I think is a problem?

Critique is the most valuable resource a learning artist can seek. We do not learn or grow if we never ask for help. So, let's talk about how to do just that.

For those looking for feedback:

So, you've uploaded your deviation. The masses will soon see your work and recognize your need for improvement. The comments should start flowing any minute now! 

....not so much. Getting useful critique on a website as huge as deviantART takes a little work. The people who tend to leave good critique tend to be in high demand, so it also takes a little patience. But it is worth the time and effort, and these simple steps may help you on your way to getting great feedback:

:bulletgreen: Use Your Artist Comment

The artist comment is that little description box under your deviation. When you're uploading your deviation to deviantART, use that box to ask for feedback. And be specific about the kind of feedback you want. For example, if you're a photographer you may ask about focus, post-processesing, composition, or contrast. If you're a writer, you might ask about word choice, line-breaks, sentence structure, or character motivation. 

If there's an area of your work that you already know you need to improve, ask for specific ideas about how to go about it. If there are areas you're not sure are working, ask for feedback about that. Give your potential critics a launching pad from which to begin their comments. It will give you better, more focused information as well as ensure that your critic knows you're serious about getting in-depth feedback. 

:bulletgreen: Use Groups

Unless you already have a good following of active commenters, you're not likely to get your work noticed just by leaving it in your own personal gallery. DeviantART implemented the groups platform specifically to help the community get their work noticed. Many groups offer feedback or have folders specifically for deviants who want feedback. After you've made sure your artist comment includes some specific feedback requests, submit your deviation to a few of those groups. Here are just a few to get you started:


:bulletgreen: Reciprocate

I really cannot stress this enough. On deviantART, you get what you give. If you want to receive comments one the fastest ways is to give them. Now there are some pretty big roadblocks that a lot of deviants run into when they start thinking about commenting (many of which will be addressed in part 2 of this article). The most common is feeling that you have nothing of value to offer.

This is categorically untrue. Even if you don't have something constuctive to say, sometimes showing your appreciation or stating why you thought something was really great is just as important as leaving tips for improvement. I think MadHat11D6 put it best:

I've had days where I felt a bit hopeless in the improvement area. Reassurance and compliments are often as important as stark honesty.

Keep in mind that if you expect to receive good feedback, you should pobably be leaving a little more detailed comments than "oh my god, this is so good!!" Take your feedback seriously. Say something more along the lines of: "I really connected with your main character because you avoided using typical cliches for women in the 1800s. Good work!" If you can explain why you liked or didn't like something, you are leaving invaluable feedback for that deviant - whether it is criticism or praise. 

Additionally, think about where you are leaving your feedback. If you are simply commenting on random things, your chances of getting good feedback in return are relatively low. Go into those groups we talked about before and leave comments on those deviations. Use your energy in places that have a high chance of a return on your investment. 

:bulletgreen: Respond

At long last! Someone has taken the time to leave a detailed comment or critique on your work. Fireworks are entirely appropriate at this moment. All your hard work has paid off! You have some solid advice for improvement just sitting there in your inbox. There are so many things to do at this point, but the absolute no-no of all no-no's is to do nothing. 

Deviants who don't respond to comments within a reasonable amount of time don't get critique from the people who actually like giving critique. As C-A-Harland says:

 ...if a deviation has received a few comments over a period of time, and the author [or artist] hasn't bothered to reply to any of them, even to say thank you, I won't bother. If the artist isn't taking the time to read their feedback, why bother leaving any?

Whether you agree with everything your critic has to say or not, taking a moment to say thank you is important. Someone took a portion of his or her day to attempt to help you in your progress as an artist. That is huge, and you should be grateful. After that, you can get down to specifics. There are lots of guides on deviantART already about how to respond to critique (see the artist comment for thumbs) but a few important points to note here:

:bulletblack: Be respectful in your reply. Sometimes critique can bruise your ego, especially if someone is critical of skill you have worked hard to improve already. Take a moment to step back and be objective. If you think your critic is correct, you may want to ask for more specific advice or resources to continue growing in that area. 
:bulletblack: It is okay to ask for clarification. If your critic made a statement or used a term you don't understand, ask about it. As my grandpa used to say, the only stupid question is the one that never gets asked. 
:bulletblack: Remember to say thank you. Seriously. Just make sure you do that. 

:bulletgreen: Be Proactive
While critique and comments are absolutely an amazing resource for any artist, there are lots of other ways to improve on deviantART. You can start by browsing the Tutorials Gallery and keeping an eye on improvement related groups like projecteducate and browsing for groups related to tutorial and resource gathering. 

You can also read critiques left on other people's work for pointers about how you might improve your own. Browse the recent critiques to get started. (I usually look for the critiques with star ratings less than five for the actual useful feedback.) You can also follow the CVs for the resources gallery, Elandria, CelticStrm-Stock and PirateLotus-Stock, to stay up to date on all things improvement. 

In Conclusion

Your growth as an artist is ultimately your responsibility. Getting good feedback is one of the great elements of this website, but it doesn't happen magically. If you want good comments, you have to put in the work to get them. Hopefully this little guide will help those who are serious about getting feedback find their niche in the critique community of deviantART. :) I'll leave you with a great summation from LockedBox:

The main thing to take away from deviantart, I think, is that if you want feedback you really have to solicit it. Join groups, make forum threads, organise feedback trades and swaps, actively ask for feedback in your description, and if there's something specific that bothers you be sure to specify. You can get a lot out of this place if you go looking for it.

If you have questions or other points of advice, please do leave a comment! 


The first of a two part article series aimed at addressing the misunderstandings and difficulties of finding good critique on deviantART! Part 1 addresses those seeking critique, and part 2 (coming out next Monday) will address those who want to leave critique. 

Guides about accepting critique (as noted in the article):
Deviant Guide: Good Responses by bringbackart How to Accept A CritiqueFirst, there's a common misconception that I want to address before I even begin.  I've heard way too many people try to claim that they don't write for an audience or that they only write for themselves.  In my mind, this usually translates to something like, "You or someone else gave me a critique I don't agree with, so I'm trying to justify why I'm going to ignore it."  You're going to have a hard time convincing me that you don't care about anyone else's opinion of your work if you PUBLICALLY SUBMIT IT ONLINE.
I don't know if you've noticed, but dA (and any other site like it) is essentially structured to be used for peer review.  That's the main point of the ability to leave comments in the first place.  If you're really only writing for yourself, you would keep your stories in a shoe-box hidden under your bed.  And, no, the "I was posting it so my very bestest friend Mary Sue could read it" excuse doesn't fly either.

That totally counts as part of dALinkSystem right? ;) 

Many thanks to Drake1 for the fantastic skin, found here:

Part 2!…

:new: 8-17-14: Label me gobsmacked! :lol: Thank you to neurotype (I miss your heart already) and ginkgografix!! I hope it comes in handy, folks. :heart: Lemme know if you have any questions. And don't forget!!! The Great Lit Crit Event IS STILL OPEN FOR COMMENTS!! And that's how you win the prizes. So yes. Do that! :D 
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Daily Deviation

Given 2014-08-17
DeviantART: A Critical Community (Part 1) by LiliWrites covers all important facts you should know about critiques. Whether you give or (want to) receive critiques there is always something you should keep in mind and this tutorial will help you with it.

Don't forget to check Part 2 as well. ( Suggested by neurotype and Featured by ginkgografix )
beeinthebottle Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014   Writer
One of most irritating things about critique is putting the energy into commenting (critiquing) and having the author respond with the equivalent of "Thanks for the comment! I really appreciate it and will make the change later!!" But you go back to the piece -- and find that they never do. I'd rather have someone respond with "Thanks but no thanks" than a disingenuous response. If you don't appreciate the critique, you never intend to revise the piece, don't want to make that particular change -- or even if you simply want to think about it longer? Say that. Don't say you'll revise something when you have no intention of doing so.

That's the number one thing that turns me off as far as making comments or offering critique. I mean, why bother? And I've had it happen too many times to count. [Stepping down from my soapbox.]

And, more importantly -- congrats on the dA. Very well deserved, and a great topic for contention. I mean conversation. ;)
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Argh, I know. :lol: That is seriously annoying. And it happens all too often. But, I'm guilty of it myself. Sometimes you just get super busy or decide a certain piece isn't as important to work on as another piece. I often find that critiques from other pieces help me mold new ones though. Usually people spot problems in my work as a whole, and that really helps me move forward in my progress as a writer. :) 

In part 2, I go over a few tips I've learned to avoid the whole "Thanks but no thanks!" scenario. :P 
beeinthebottle Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014   Writer
I just find it funny/annoying when it's a really simple change (change a line break, add a comma, something like that) and it would take less time to make the change than it would to write about it. ;) I'll check out part 2. You did a great job on this!
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Oh god I know. I usually just strike those people completely off my watch list, if they were on it to begin with. I'm not interested in someone who isn't interested in improving. 

The one that gets me is when someone has the critique requested box checked, and then you leave a critique and they say "oh, well I wasn't really looking for critique on this." Rage 
archaicinfinity Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014
Thanks! That's really helpful. I'm new here and there's so much it can become a bit difficult to get a good overview. Tutorials like yours really help to find your way around and get you started. Congratulations on the DD! :)
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Welcome to dA! :D I know how huge this place can be. If you need help getting around just shoot me a note. Happy to do what I can. :) 
archaicinfinity Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014
Thank you! I might take you up on that offer in the foreseeable future. :)
Koricthegreat Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2014
Muhahaha! I already plan to "comment bomb" a bunch of people who's art I like..but first...I must improve my skills!....yeah...I just want nice comments. Not so much critique. XD
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Part 2 of the guide goes over leaving comments! :)
TheDailyBreadCafe Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2014
Clap Congrats and is this a journal O_O'?
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