What am I missing? (general critiques wanted)

Hi folks,

Lately I have been wondering where to go, what to work on, in my art.

I’ve been using Blender since February-ish, and whilst I’m pleased with my progress, I can’t help but notice that my work often illicites zero response. I’d even be happier if someone said “I hate this” or “it’s crap, learn how to UV map”. Most of my work gets effectively no response, not even technical critique. It’s quite hard to know where to go in that instance.

I know I’m not owed anything here, but the wall of silence is, well, it’s hard to improve not knowing what I’m doing wrong. People like different things, that’s fine. I seem to be missing the mark though, and I’m not sure why. My inspirations range from folk like Giger and Beksinski, to Pascal Blanche, Piotr Jabłoński, and old 70’s artists like Terry Illot, John Blanche, Dick french, Syd Mead, Bruce Pennington, etc. I’m not trying to copy any of them, nor am I as good as they are/were, but I suppose they are proof that sci-fi, creepy or weird art can be popular.

So I’m posting this here as perhaps some of you might want to offer critique? How do I make my work more engaging? (/better?)

Some possible examples to rip into:

I spent some time trying to get a painterly look with toon shaders - I think these are a bust, nobody seemed to like this style.

e.g. this, this, and this.

I’ve tried aiming for photorealism - product renders, some basic archviz. e.g. this, this, and this. A lot of the time similar works will get comments, although I’ve not had much success with mine.

I’ve also tried more realistic (or perhaps “game art”) sci-fi stuff - this, and this. I thought these were better, but again nothing.

I tend to get about 50 views on my work, and it fades to nothing with zero likes or comments. Whilst I am not doing this just for likes etc., it’s hard to keep creating stuff in a vaccum. What am I missing? What should I be working on? (please don’t say distance fog).

Thanks. G.

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Yeah getting no engagement isn’t great. I’ve looked through your image posts and here’s my opinion:

What I did actually like was the toon shaded one with the floating blue thing. I think that’s good for a comic, or like a book cover for example. But you see, comics aren’t made up of masterpieces, they’re simple artistic representations that convey what’s going on. So your best is not that bad, but not striking, you wouldn’t spend 10-20 mins looking and just enjoying the sight of it. That doesn’t mean it’s no good, like you could use such a style for a series where part of the draw is the storytelling.

So anyway, general critique: your works lack focus, angles are usually boring, materials are bland at best and outright low-effort-looking at worst, color use on some pieces (like the bridge one) is really confusing.

I think a good step for you now would be to improve your artistic eye/sense. Study composition and the use of light, colour, contrast and detail level in artistic representations. Maybe look for videos or articles talking about great works of art, or stuff like “viewer art critique” that some youtubers do, a book on art theory etc.

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Thanks @ejeroel, things to think about.

I’ve been thinking about the lack of focus thing. I think I might take a break, it feels like I have nothing to say artistically. I don’t even know what style, what feel I want to do. So a lack of focus seems inevitable. Sigh.

Sure, inspiration is also an important part of making art, and squeezing out something just for the sake of it might be exhausting.

Also, just to be very clear, in my original answer, by focus I mean actual focal point for the eyes to not wander aimlessly over the piece.

I hope you received the criticism as constructively as possible. Maybe this break could offer you the chance to study and really understand the fundamentals I mentioned.

Also, while not a critique of any your images because I’m about to cook dinner and just wanted to post this quickly…

Don’t forget about the ever-present media-fatigue that everything about being online elicits in most human-beings: with so so SO many images, videos, colours, shapes always flickering across our screens these days, the number of images that actually cause a viewer to follow-through and click on are actually very, very small - relative to the total number of images we see every day while browsing.

Awful lot of brilliant artwork just gets scrolled right off the screen and I personally will click on all kinds of images I like the look of, then never bother to even tap the like button before something else has distracted me, which I’m sure is the same for no shortage of other people.

There’s just such a ridiculous amount of media of all types flooding the net that good or bad or interesting or boring really can’t be accurately measured solely by the amount of feedback it gets.

Well, actually I guess it can sometimes, but I find most replies and likes and feedback for posts on any forum come from that person being engaged in liking, commenting and engaging others posts - more about who you know, maybe.

I’m hungry anyway - chicken tender burgers with goozy cheese, lettuce and garlic mayo - that wins over typing :slight_smile:

@ejeroel Yes, I did take it as constructive. It’s sometimes hard to take, but obviously I knew something was amiss. I take the point about focal point too.

@Guido_Possum True, true. I agree mostly, although in my particular case I don’t think my art is secretly brilliant, rather than a bit “meh”. I do think it’d help if I knew what I wanted to say, otherwise it’ll all end up a bit generic and listless. I’ve been looking at artists like Simon Stalenhag lately, they have a clear theme and point to their work. I seem to be lacking that in addition to whatever technical issues there are. Hope you enjoyed your meal btw :slight_smile:

I’m still eating it: it’s a 6 pack of chicken fillets - I’ve gotta cook and eat 'em in ‘rounds’; where 1 round = as much burger as I can eat at a time without feeling sick - which usually is around 1.5 burgers.

You don’t have to say anything: real-world art is so ridiculous: someone paints a can of soup and people call him a genius the rest of his life and he actually believes it; people squash rats on canvases and call that art; paint with their own fecal matter - most of the time, what they’re ‘saying’ is simply fabricated after they’ve slopped something together to make said art seem more intelligent than it is.

How striking any artwork might be is the only yardstick I would measure it by, though creating something striking is difficult enough no matter what the format.

I dunno really, my favourite was the post with the little eskimos all running in the snow - Invasion I think it was called, though it was so all over the place and busy I could not see what was really going on, but I liked the styling.

All the artwork I’ve done over the last 20 years has gradually morphed into a single-colour, form-based style that happened organically as I just tossed extra surplus colours and textures in the bin once I deemed them superfluous and unnecessary.

Now, all I care about is form and balance and clean lines yeah, what does that have to do with anything though?

I got side-tracked.

I dunno - the harder you try to force anything creative, the less creative flow seems to occur I’ve always found.

Just start with a general theme, then make-up some bullshit once it’s finished like everyone else :+1:

Haha, yes, I don’t mean I intend to create some art wank that pretends it is something it isn’t.

However, I think having some feeling in mind you want to convey is a good idea. I used to write (metal) music and my best works were always those songs that invoked some clear feeling. Usually nothing deeper than “sadness” or “a bit creepy”. I’d settle for that in my digital works. Lately I don’t seem to have much idea of anything, and “neutral” isn’t a great feeling for a poster etc.

The toon shader stuff is tbh, a nightmare. It’s so much work to get them to look like that - and you lose a lot of actual detail in meshes. Even the shader trees often required considerable faffing around to achieve what might look like a simple effect. It took me a while to figure out how to chain them together so you could have a colour gradient etc., without everything just being ggreyscale on top.

[edit] Re: invasion - funnily enough, this popped up in my twitter just now. I suppose this is the sort of thing I was going for. I can see how mine seems overly busy by comparison.

Just looked through some of your stuff. You’ve got some real talent. Don’t get disheartened.
I think, with CG artwork, every day is a school day. Like others have said, maybe you should expand your knowledge and try new things.

One critique I would give is regarding the chair and table image. I didn’t really get what the purpose of it was. I felt like the vast desert surrounding was supposed to create a feeling of isolation/loneliness, but I didn’t feel it. If that’s what you were going for, I think the furniture should appear smaller in the image. Show more of the vast emptiness surrounding it.

But really, you’ve done a lot of cool work.

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Thanks for the kind words!

I think taking a break was a good idea. I’ve been working on material again and making progress (here). I also took a break from just looking at art (twitter, instgram etc) and focused on not pushing it. And yes, some reading and some practice of new techniques too.

Re: Tables/Chairs - ah, the idea of this was just a furniture design, not a serious art piece. I was thinking of it more like an advert/product photo you might see on a website, and the cracked ground was just a quick addition. I usually throw these together in a couple of hours as model practice/sketching ideas, so some of them a bit lazy regarding finishing touches. I never considered it might be an interesting work as an image…

Just quickly read through it here, so might mention something again.

Its also the fault of blenderartist to be honest. It has the lowest interaction rate on any platform i use. If you want feedback use Reddit or any other forum. Maybe even twitter?

Even high quality work gets a few hearts compared to other platforms. Not sure why, maybe its the focus on stylized art…

Anyway polycount is nice but for a later stage. Also in the beginning thats how it is, its not really encouraging but if you get through it… Legends say its nice.

I’d love say that is my experience and chalk it down to that, but sadly the problem for me is across platforms. Artstation is probably worst - I am lucky if I get 12 views on a piece before it is buried. Twitter seems a waste of time, instagram perhaps is best for me.

If nothing I’m consistent - my last work, 50 views in 4 days (so it’s buried now basically), no comments/likes. Fair enough, maybe people don’t like the work.

It’s just a bit frustrating - I make everything myself, I use no paid resources, etc. Then I see artwork where someone chucks a bunch of paid models or botaniq stuff down and it’s swarming in likes. Even just technical comments would be nice.

Well, guess I’ll keep trying. Eventually people will either like it or drown in it, haha.

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Have you tried reddit? Thats a hit or miss.

Receiving feedback is a rare thing, but on Twitter sometimes artist ask for a pic to critic it. Got some solid feedback that way. Follygon did one a couple of days ago, and he bashed my hand model (glad i practised it now).

Just posting art seems not to attract many or hard to reach the right people. So i will sprinkle a tutorial or tip in there from time to time.

In the end i do it primarily to learn it and i think with some time there is room for a new artist to have a decent interaction rate.

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You can try taking part in contests like the weekly on this forum or cgboost etc. You get a good view of what our peers are creating and also get votes/feedback.

I think getting engagement and developing your art are two different worlds.

If you want engagement, try to research what other people who get engagement are doing and how the social media game is played (I don’t know that, but I guess one can reach to some conclusions).

If you want to develop your art/skill/techniques, try to identify where you want to be art/skill/technique-wise and try to map out steps to get there. (I can help a bit with this). For instance if you want to focus on landscape environment creation, try to find the top landscape artists, observe their work and try to answer this: why they did what they did to their… image for example? Why it’s the way it is? Why the lights are to that direction? I guess you get my point!

Hope the outcome of this can work as your north star (:

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I’d say even instagram is somewhat of a waste. You don’t really get the engagement you’d expect compared to the people who follow you, and the usual “nice render” comment feels kinda empty.
(maybe because I leave those comments on artworks that I want to get boosted in the algorythm…)

To be honest I’d say that getting some concrete reaction from the masses is a hit or miss. Something that you might think insignificant might actually merit some response from others… It’s not platform dependant on wheren I’s better.

As for unique art style… I personally don’t have a unique art style, i just make art that I want to make. Overall I think its about sharing your imagination with others. Make what you would like to make, since if you don’t enjoy making the art what’s even the point.

One solution I think could work (i dont really know since I never tried it) is collaborating with others… That way you can build on each others ideas which can lead to interesting results.

Anyway… this has turned into a rant…
Cheers!

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Being not a community-darling too, I can feel with you.

I believe, it is vital to keep honest and not to surrender to selection pressure. To keep observing, and to keep developing an authentic way.

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You don’t need to do everything yourself. You should maybe work more goal oriented.
Rather than building a complete environment scene from scratch, you could use UE4 and Quixel assets and put all your effort into the unique assets in the scene and the story telling and overall visuals.
The end consumer rarely cares how you get to an end result. This way you could make several different pieces in the same time you would need if you build one from scratch and you could concentrate on the artistic side of the creation process, rather than spending 75% of the time producing assets.
Its the artistic side you are lacking and where you should spent more time/effort on.
Focus on learning more about Colours, Contrast, composition / framing / staging and lighting and master these and you art will become much better and you will have much more fun doing it.

@Romanji

I suppose what I should clarify what I was getting at there. I’ll try not to veer too off topic. Like, if the purpose of BA is primarily to showcase Blender made creations, then I don’t really see why something primarily made in 3dsmax, etc., should “count” the same as something made entirely in Blender. Here, anyway. So to see these works get praised seems a little weird to me - on BA.

I’ll give an example - recently I came across an NFT work that sold for more than £10,000. I didn’t like it as art, but at the time I could appreciate the technical work. It was of two figures, skinless and lacking musculature, embracing. The organs, blood vessals, tendons, lymphatic system system, and bones were modelled accurately. At the time I thought “Wow, what an amazing amount of work and understanding of anatomy”. I then saw this rigged model for sale on Turbosquid (the listing predating the artwork considerably) for $499. So what exactly did the artist do? What part of the work is “them”? It’s not really an expression of them, more their bank account. I suddenly find myself more interested in the original modeller - because, hell, that was some skillful work.

I feel the same when I see someone use a stock rigged character as the centre of their work, or make a scene entirely using pre bought assets. Quixel megascans are going to look like megascans. It’s not really a showcase of Blender, it’s not converying your mastery of the medium, and it’s not “you”. I’ve seen the same bought assets turn up again and again in works (e.g. that little girl with the teddy bear) - barring possible issues with commercialisation and licenses, this makes the work instantly non-unique.

I don’t want to bash composition etc., there is real skill in it. But I don’t think compsoition alone is really enough for me. I tend to like art that is instantly recognisable, with distinct style. I don’t think it is easy to get a distinct style when you use someone else’s models. Giger didn’t photocopy someone else’s works…

Obviously, there’s a limit - eventually you end up using textures, etc., that someone else made. Stock assets can be used sparingly and cleverly in art too. Just as a centrepiece? Not for me.

As for being goal oriented - sure, I would say I am. I guess we only differ here in that I think the process and creation of art plays an important role in the final artwork too. Sometimes mistakes are important, and you don’t get your mistakes when you centre it on another’s models (or lighting set ups, or whatever). Anyway, this is rather off piste so I’ll stop :slight_smile:

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