Recently there has been a discussion about comments, critique, and constructive criticism relative to the Apophysis community and fractals in general. This discussion when I challenged Dennis ( ~TwilightAmbiance
) to a little competition with critique after reading some very good comments from him. I know I am not much of a great comment writer on this account, but I'm trying to improve them here. Anyway, both Dennis and I commented on a new fractal, pointed out what we liked about it, and suggested ways to improve it. The artist listened, re-uploaded a better image with changes, and it looks much better now.
This brought about a few journals discussing commentary on fractal pieces, but it also brought up a few negatives that I am hoping to address.~LonesomeFaery
started a journal that received some praise, but also highlighted a crucial element of giving critique on fractals: qualifications.
What I tried making as my point is that there are far too many short comments here. Don't get me wrong, I love the support, and I'm glad that people enjoy my fractals. However, I am always open to critique and more in-depth comments, something all artists should agree to. There are some artists out there who do not enjoy critique, but there are ways of giving good comments that doesn't involve suggesting ideas or pointing out points of improvement in images.
Say we have an ordinary fractal, one of my own as an example:
Typical comment:"Cool fractal!"
I'm glad people enjoy my pieces and thank them for it, but as evident later on, there are ways to improve this fractal.
Good comment:"Nice fractal! I really like the basic design of the image, especially your choice of black and white -- very striking! I also like the blend of shapes and elements, it really is a diverse fractal in that it has a lot of depth. I have to say that my favorite part of the image are the white curves that almost resemble highways."
What I just did was make a good comment on the fractal, pointing out elements that I like in the piece, all without giving critique. This is very important for artists who label their pieces "Critique not desired," as you can still make good comments, even though they don't want critique.
Good Critique:"Nice fractal! I like your use of the lazysusan plug-in, it really makes for a very diverse style of fractal. The choice of black and white is good as well, but I wonder if color would look good as well? Try going for a black background with reds, yellows, and whites in the gradient. Reduce the gamma and keep the brightness low, so as to highlight the detailed edges of the fractal. Just give it a look, you might be surprised at the results.
The other slight things I would suggest to do are: A. fix the symmetry. I like the way the camera is positioned horizontally, but moving the fractal down just a little bit would balance the image. B. textural pattern? I'm not sure how you would change the overall look to be more smooth, but try changing the variations used to give a sleeker look. I have a feeling the fractal would look much better then."
Having knowledge of the program helps, as little adjustments to a fractal could really make it stand out. Something that is a regular point of interest for me is the gradient used in an image, and it is something many of us know about and can offer advice/suggestions.
Feel free to use either one of the latter suggestions and just remember, it doesn't have to be that long. Each and every one of you started creating art because it looks good. Now, what looks good? What do you like in particular? Take those thoughts and translate it into your comments. I'm not asking for page-long comments, just say what you like about an image. If you have been doing fractal art for a while, or at in general for a while, there are certain things you can appreciate (originality, effort put into a piece, colors, composition, symmetry, form, flow, textures, patterns, framing). A lot of new artists don't know about those parts that much, so educate them! Help them to improve their images by doing simple changes in Apophysis or Photoshop. If you know things about color, suggest trying new gradients and specify what color to look for, tell them how to brighten up an image, how to saturate an image, how to diversify color in a fractal. If you know things about the flame makeup, suggest new variations, or give them advice on how to balance a fractals symmetry.
There is a wealth of knowledge out there and many people know a thing or two about Apophysis (or fractals, in general). I'm not asking for you to go on other's pieces and say "this sucks, you should have tried this instead." Go for something like, "I really like what you have here, the spiral design has a lot of depth to it, and I'm really drawn in to the center thanks to the 3D effect. However, I think it would have a much more "hypnotizing" effect if you added more purples, blacks, and greys to the gradient." I have to stress this as well, be nice! Help people improve, don't discourage them!
Lastly, I have to stress that you should be nice and professional when giving comments. Don't be rude or insulting, I know that there isn't an artist out there who likes getting negative comments. Be respectful of an artist's wishes and if they don't want critique, don't give it. If they say, "I'm new, can you help me improve my fractals?" Help them!