acolorfulguy (neke) wrote in icons_concrit,

Keep It Simple: A Concrit Guide

This is a guide meant for novice concritters.
A guide, not a set of golden rules.
Check out the links section at the bottom for more elaborate guides.


Bad Examples
Starting out with some bad examples of concrit.
These examples are incredibly subjective and not very politely phrased, forget them as soon as you've read them.

'This icon is so sharp my eyes are bleeding.'
'I don't like b/w icons.'
'It's obvious you like Harry Potter but having him in almost every icon is too much.'
'You can definitely see you're a beginner.'

Technical Focus
Focus on the technical aspects of the icon.

No personal preferences, like the icon's subject, style or maker.
You might not like a certain style, color, texture, etc, but maybe it works for the icon in question.

I Spy
What you see might not necessarily be what other people are seeing.

Keep in mind the difference in monitors.
What looks sharp/over-contrasted on your monitor, might not look like that on the maker's or any other people's monitors.
Different people look at an icon in different ways.
Be aware of your personal preferences towards style. Subconsciously your eyes might zone in on certain aspects of an icon that actually work for the icon in question.

Be Polite
Although this should be obvious, we'd like to point out the following.

Write a concrit that you would like to receive.
Do not get personal. Focus on the icon, not the maker.
Be nice. Point out the good points as well.

Positive comments
Pointing out the positives as well is important when writing a concrit.

Point out the skills you think are the icon maker's best, even if they still need improving.
An icon is very rarely all wrong, so do try to find something positive to say.

Keep It Simple
Keep it simple for yourself and for others.
Do try to point out as much as you can and give as many possible solutions as you can.

Look at each icon separately, write a concrit for each icon.
Focus on key areas you think need improving.
Write as much, or as little, as you're comfortable with.

Suggest A Solution
Even if you don't know what program people are using or how they icon, suggesting solutions is part of a good concrit.

Most people appreciate suggestions on how to improve.
If you've got an idea on how to fix an issue, put it in the concrit.
Explain what you would do to fix the issue in your own words.

What To Write
The following is part of any good concrit.

State what you think is wrong, if needed point out the areas in the icon the flaw is most obvious in.
If it's not obvious why something is wrong, explain.
If you know of a possible solution, mention it.
Point out the positives as well.

The following examples are meant to illustrate one particular flaw.
If there are other flaws, they have not been pointed out but obviously when writing a good concrit they should be mentioned as well.
No positive comments here I'm afraid, it's all about illustrating the most common flaws.


* what is wrong: The crop is too wide, the subject too small so it's hard to make out who it is.
* possible solution: Try cropping closer.

* what is wrong: The crop is too close, it's hard to make out who the subject is.
* possible solution: Cropping just a little bit wider including more of the person's face will make all the difference.

* what is wrong: This crop is too creative. It draws the eye to her hair and ear, and too much of her face is cropped out.
* possible solution: Include more of the person's face so we can see who it is.

Coloring (Incl. Contrast)

*what is wrong: Coloring is too saturated.
*possible solution: Try lowering the contrast or go back a few steps to remove some coloring layers.

*what is wrong: Coloring is washed out.
*possible solution: Try using Curves to up the contrast and bring some color into the icon.

*what is wrong: Everything looks gray, not enough contrast
*possible solution: Try raising the contrast levels with Curves.

*what is wrong: Too much contrast.
*possible solution: Lower the opacity or turn off some of the layers that were used to brighten the image.

Texture Use

* what is wrong: The texture is too overpowering.
* possible solution: Try changing the setting of the layer with the texture to for example Soft Light or lower the opacity.

* what is wrong: Wrong combination of icon, texture and layer setting.
* possible solution: Try changing the layer setting or use a different texture.

* what is wrong: The texture is covering the subject.
* possible solution: Erase part of the texture that is over the butterfly.


* what is wrong: The butterfly is too high up in the icon which leaves this huge empty space at the bottom.
* possible solution: Move the butterfly more to the center or add something underneath the butterfly like some text to balance it out.

* what is wrong: This icon is too crowded.
* possible solution: Remove a couple of the butterflies, especially around the bigger butterfly.

Text is probably the hardest thing to get right, below are the most common examples of things that can go wrong with text.

* what is wrong: The color, font and text size are too overpowering.
* why fix this: Your eyes are drawn to the text instead of to what really the subject of this icon is.
* possible solution: Change the color of the font to white and lower the opacity of the text layer.

* what is wrong: Wrong color, the text disappears into the background.
* possible solution: Change the color to white.

* what is wrong: The text is too small.
* possible solution: Different font which is still readable when it's that small or larger text.

* what is wrong: The text is too blurry/too light.
* possible solution: Try sharpening the text layer and/or duplicating it.

For most icon makers, finding the perfect balance between sharp and blurry on an icon is very difficult.
When writing your concrit it is important to mention where in the icon you see over-sharpening or blurriness.

* what is wrong: Icon is over-sharpened, especially visible around the edges of her hair and face.
* possible solution: Soften the parts that are over-sharpened by blurring them slightly.

* what is wrong: Icon is too blurry, especially visible around the edges of her hair and face.
* possible solution: Sharpen the icon so the edges of her face and hair become clearer.

Image Quality (Incl. Aspect Ratio)

* what is wrong: The picture is stretched, the aspect ratio is off. Either a cap with off aspect ratio was used or it's due to how the cap was cropped and re-sized.
* possible solution: Try fixing the cap before you crop. If the cap is fine, when cropping make sure the setting is set to Fixed Aspect Ratio.

* what is wrong: Poor image quality. Either the source image was of poor quality or the icon has been saved at low quality.
* possible solution: Use better images or if possible, try to crop wider. Save the icon as PNG, or high quality JPG or GIF.


How To Read Concrit

Remember that people are talking about your icons, not about you.
It's not all bad, take in the compliments as well.
Try to forget about the time and energy you put into the icon, others only see the result.
Try to let you go of your own personal preference towards style, icon's subject and writer of the concrit.
Read the concrit and then look at the icon in question in a critical way.

How To Accept Concrit

Do not take it personally.
If certain concrit is upsetting you, take a break and look at it again at a later time.
Say 'thank you.' Even if you don't agree completely, people took the time to critique your icon.
If there is anything you are particularly glad with they pointed out, tell them.
If something's unclear either ask the writer to explain further or ask someone else.

How To Move On

Technically speaking you could edit the icon in question but most of the time it's not feasible.
Take the concrit you think worthy and keep it mind when making future icons.
If they've linked to certain tutorials, give them a go.
Experiment. Try different things to get the desired result.
If there is concrit you don't agree with even after considering all the above points, ignore it.


How To: A Constructive Criticism Voting Deconstruction at turbo_rumble
How To Give Good Concrit at starwars_lims
LIMS Voting Guidelines at wd_lims

Any comments, questions, suggestions, etc. are welcome in the comments.
Tags: resource: concrit guide

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