Powerleveling Art 101: Art Criticism and Appraisal Thread

The internet is a great place for art criticism, if you particularly want people to complain to you about ships/headcanons or accuse you of making someone’s skin too light. But actual, reasonable critiques on technique and form can sometimes be hard to come by. This is a thread for people who want genuine criticism of their art/advice on how to improve, without all the other nonsense the internet produces.

About Me

I’m a freelance writer and amateur artist who got back into drawing last year, after a drawing hiatus of several years. As someone who frequently got bad/poorly communicated advice on art when I was younger, I know firsthand how much that can mess you up as an artist. I feel like I’ve come a long way in a short time, but I still have so much I need to work on. This thread was born from a desire to improve, and to give others a venue to learn how they can improve.

The Gist of It

There’s really not any rules on how to post or what to post. You can post specific pieces of art and ask for advice on specific aspects of it, or just toss your art onto the pile and let people determine what needs improvement/what you’re doing well. Just remember that this is a thread for artists, both those looking to help others and those looking to improve their art. Don’t post here if you’re just looking to mock people’s art without giving constructive criticism. Aside from that, have fun!

A few examples of my own art:


Hey, thanks for making this! Should be a good place for people to get back into art-ing after a long break from it (like me).

So with regard to your general style, I really appreciate your use of different line thicknesses to bring some extra liveliness to your pieces. Your party dogs are a particularly good example of this, I think, because of how each line has a “character” and appears purposeful and complete. To that end, I’d love to see you explore that more in your other pieces. For example, I’d be interested to see the sketchiness on your space pirate cleaned up a bit with more clear and deliberate line work.

I know you’re not an animator or anything, but because your lines tend to be pretty lively, you might be able to use some of the tips Mariel Cartwright gives in this GDC talk about how she animated Skullgirls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw0h9WmBlsw.

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Nice. I’m trying to figure out how to use my cheapo wacom after like 2 years of not drawing anything. I’ll probably keep this thread in mind.

So is there any kind of feedback you were looking for in particular? I don’t want to overload you with critiques of things you already know.

Thanks for linking that video, I’m a huge fan of Kinuko’s work! Her linework is so dynamic and bold, I love it. I’ll have to give it a watch later!

It’s funny you should mention the Dog Party pic, as that was mostly something I cranked out in like an hour or two, while half-asleep. I personally think I coulda done the linework much better (although I do like how it turned out) as I’m still learning how to adjust lines with pen pressure instead of manually thinning/thickening them.

As for the pirate pic, that’s as sketchy as it is because I was trying to loosen up my style. I felt kinda pent-up about my art recently, as my recent pics had gotten a bit too stiff. So I just kinda threw caution and proper form to the wind, and ended up with something I liked a lot more than I thought I would. The basic idea of what I was trying to do with it was kinda expanded upon in the Dog Party pic, so I guess you could consider that the spiritual evolution of pirate pic.

Overall tho, I do wanna focus more on line thickness and better linework. It’s why I’ve been favoring B&W more recently, so I can’t use color as a crutch.

Edit: W/R/T the pirate, don’t worry. I’ll be drawing a lot more of that character, so you’ll see how he looks with proper linework eventually.

Really, whatever stands out as “needs improvement” or “should be more of a focus.” The main things I’m trying to improve right now is linework, anatomy, and shadows, but there’s really no lack of things I need to work on. If you’re worried about overloading me, then just prioritize what sticks out most to you.

I feel those old tablet blues. I got a new Wacom for Christmas, but before that I was working with something that musta been close to a decade old. The drivers were so out-of-date they were literally crashing my laptop.

I’m more than happy to provide a bit of critique and guidance! I enjoy giving the sort of advice to younger aspiring artists that I could’ve used when I was at that stage. For context, I’m a professional artist, drawing comics and illustrations. I went to art school, but 90% of what I know just comes from tons of practice and devouring art books.

From what I can see @CosmicLass, right now you’d benefit most from stepping back from the cartoony stuff – not abandoning it – and putting in some time getting a better understanding of the fundamentals like anatomy (which you mentioned), perspective, depth, and expression. The best way to do that is to draw from life!

My usual advice is this: buy a handy portable sketchbook, something not too small but easy to pack in your bag of choice. (Don’t get anything fancy, just something you like. I’m a fan of these.) Take it out with you every day and draw what you see in your spare time, like if you’re at the park or eating lunch in a cafeteria. Draw trees, cars, people, animals, buildings, everything! With practice and study, you’ll get a better understanding of how they’re constructed and how to communicate that in a drawing. And don’t get precious about it. If you’re drawing with a pencil, resist the urge to constantly erase and fix. Instead, forge ahead, make the best of your mistakes, and move on to the next drawing. It’s an atypical suggestion, but maybe try sketching with a pen. I started doing that after I got in the habit of doodling all over my school notes, and it made me accept mistakes instead of constantly second-guessing myself. That’s something that trips up tons of learning artists!

Yeah, you can work from photos, too, but you’d benefit more from drawing away from your computer screen, especially if you currently focus hard on drawing with your tablet. Think of cool places to go where they’ll be interesting stuff to draw. Visit a museum and draw the statues! Study the animals at the zoo! Attend a live model session!

There are a variety of exercises to explore in said sketchbook, like gesture drawing, contour line drawing, negative space, chiaroscuro, point perspective, etc.

If you’d like some book recommendations, I say you should check out Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (which you should easily be able to find at your local library) and the instructional books of Andrew Loomis.

I could go on and on, but I should stop here. I hope some of that was helpful. Let me know if you’d like specific critique of certain drawings or clarification of anything I said!


Thanks for the advice! I’ve been favoring cartoony stuff because it’s fun to do in these trying times (also I’ve read way too much manga for my own good), but I’ll definitely try to get some life drawing experience! I actually have a few sketchbooks I’ve been meaning to use more, mixed media ones from Strathmore!

As for inking, I actually sorta cut my teeth inking. One of the big things that got me back into drawing seriously was doing Inktober last year, and it made me appreciate how much ink can add to a piece (and helped me get over my fear of inking). I’ve been meaning to get back to using physical pens, so maybe I’ll take this as an opportunity to get away from the pencil/pencil sketches and just lean into ink.

As for anatomy and other fundamentals, I’ve been thinking for a while I might like to take a figure-drawing class when I get the time. I was too young/too inexperienced to really benefit from the one I took before, but I think it’d help a lot more now.

I’ll be sure to check out those books! I’ve had no idea where to go, book-wise, when it comes to art and art instruction.

Edit: Since I mentioned figure drawing, might as well mention that there’s now a figure drawing thread!

Some loose ink sketches I posted to twitter (and some anatomy practice). Definitely feel more comfortable sketching with pens than with pencil, I prefer the thicker brush pens to thin ones (tho I’m trying to learn to use the thin ones more).

Ed: More anatomy, from the figure drawing thread:

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Here now!

Well, I thing you did some really good work here, but it feel like you were working a little too much on the outline of the figures.

Instead of that, try to find the shapes first, like the third example from kokoronis, on the figure drawing thread. And dont be scared of being a little messy with your drawing.

Hope it helps!



Got a fair amount of life drawing practice in today, really tried to keep some of the advice I’ve been given in mind. Started embracing the mess and chaos after the rainy intersection pic, as I realized I was rather unhappy with it. Feeling better about the rest, tho!