Samantha | Slowest angel in the garrison. (absolutelybatty) wrote in turbo_rumble,
Samantha | Slowest angel in the garrison.

A Good Concrit Vote Showcase

Constructive criticism is a difficult thing to do well, as we all know. You have to keep a good balance of three things: 1. the aspects of the icon that could be improved, 2. the ways in which the maker could improve them, and 3. the positive aspects of the icon as well. Below you will find a selection of votes from previous rounds from MVPs and others that exemplify this balance.

Votes are include based on my discretion but only from people who have volunteered to have their votes included. If you wish to volunteer to have yours added, please PM me or leave a comment below. Thank you!

Votes from Round 6, Round 9, & Round 13 MVP, tiptoetwirl:
[Votes below cut.]
From Round 6, Challenge 12:
08 - I love the idea behind this icon and the blending is really well done. I do think it needs added depth in the shadows and just more contrast in general because Harry and Lily's face look a little washed out. Also, and I realise that this would be really difficult to find, but I can't help but think that an inset of the resurrection stone would have increased the symbolism in this icon significantly. Or even one of Harry holding the snitch the stone was hidden it. Or even 'I open at the close' instead of 'you have my eyes'. That being said, I adore the browns and yellows of this icon. I adore the browns and yellows of this icon and I particularly adore the moment you chose for the challenge. Your muse deserves a pay rise.

From Round 6, Challenge 11:
08 - The choice of font here is really original but perhaps the size and placement could be altered? At the moment the font looks a little out of place so maybe increasing the size a little and moving it so that it overlaps the mans shirt and neck? I also think that using an off-white or light yellow picked out from the icon for the colour of the font would have helped everything blend together a bit more. At the moment there's a bit too much shadow and dark colours and not enough balance with the light colours of the icon.

From Round 6, Challenge 9:
04 - I love the composition of this icon, I also like the monochromatic theme. The only thing I would suggest is that the contrast be deepened because, at the moment, the icon looks a little washed out. Deeper contrast can be achieved using a black to white gradient map set on soft light or using layers/curves. You could even just use the brightness/contrast adjustment layer :) I also think that if the text were white instead of blending in with the colour scheme it would 'pop' a bit more and give this icon added oomph.

From Round 9, Challenge 7:
12 - I love the concept behind this icon but I think that composition is pulling our attention in too many directions. The white block behind Amy is a little awkward so maybe using a closer crop of the TARDIS and blending Amy into the foreground might help? There are loads of blending guides at Ask The Maker but I find this one by afeastforme useful for whenever I attempt to blend :) On the positive side, the magenta's and blues in this icon are really pretty and I think that with more cohesive composition this icon could be really stand out.

From Round 9, Challenge 3:
10 - The lighting on this icon is so, so pretty! I love the shadows over her hair and face but I have to admit that her skin looks a little pale and, to me it's lowering the overall quality of the image. If you used adjustment layers to brighten the image then maybe masking out bits over her face might help? Alternatively try adding colour back in manually with a paintbrush, colour balance and selective colour layers. Also the bottom left corner of the icon and a bit over her left eye look a little grainy to me. Try checking the layer you used to sharpen the icon. You can either mask out parts of that layer with a brush on low opacity or you could try copy merging all your layers and smudging out the grainy bits.

From Round 9, Challenge 1:
05 - The grunginess of this icon is awesome. Really, kudos to the maker because I find grunge really tricky and I think that anyone who attempts it is really brave :) The brown hues to the shadows are really pretty and I like the lighting I just think that the textures that are giving light from the top right of the icon are a little strong. Maybe try lowering the opacity so that Aria's features are more defined?

From Round 13, Challenge 3:
04 - Hermione's face in this icon is very undercontrasted. As a result her there's a lack of definition that makes her look like she's wearing a plastic mask. The lighting in the rest of the icon is really pretty and soft so, if I had to guess, I'd say there's a texture of colour blob over her face that's on too high opacity. If that's the case then maybe playing with the opacity of your layers will help bring back some facial definition.

From Round 13, Challenge 2:
18 - I love the creativity the maker of this icon shows with it's composition. The 'photo' idea is a great approach to the theme and, on the whole, they managed to mostly pull it off. I think that the placement of some of the photos could be revised. For example, part of Elena's eye in the photo on the top right is being cut off by the frame of the one below and that makes it look a bit awkward. The bit of free texture also looks a little out of place so maybe the maker could consider filling the entire canvas with photos? It's just an idea, perhaps the maker might feel more comfortable with adding some space instead of taking it away.

From Round 13, Challenge 1:
11 - I like the concept of this icon. There are a few technical things that could be improved, the placement of the text and the texture over her head for example. Both of these elements look a little out of place and don't seem to contribute anything to the icon. The colour on her hair would have more of an impact with a bolder colour choice - maybe a bright neon purple instead of the dark colour chosen? That being said it could just be that the strong lighting in the icon is what's dulling the colour in her hair. I'd be careful of pixelation when using such strong lighting as well, there are areas between the shadows and light on her face that look a little LQ. That being said, I like the effect the maker was trying to achieve and I'd recommend that they keep experimenting with composition. I'm a big believer in learning from experience. this composition guide by raiindust might prove useful as well.

Votes from Round 8 & Round 15 MVP, emiels:
[Votes below cut.]
From Round 14, Challenge 2:
09 - Good job on adding more depth to the original image - I like how you made the shadows on the right side more pronounced. However, the text behind the character is rather distracting, and doesn't fit with the rest of the icon - the image and the background have a slightly painty texture, while the text is smooth and flat. Making the text darker or removing it altogether would give the icon a more unified look.

From Round 14, Challenge 3:
02 - I like the crop here, it's a really nice example of a simple, yet effective close crop. However, the image looks quite fuzzy and grainy, as if it was cropped from a small section of a big screencap, or from a small, LQ screencap. If that was indeed the case, I suggest using screencaps more appropriate for close crops, i.e. HQ screencaps of scenes where the character's face takes up a significant portion of the screen, since these result in much sharper, HQ icons. If this is not the case, sharpening the whole image, then smudging or blurring the grainy parts could help combat the quality issues. Alternately, you could add a grainy texture to make the graininess more prominent, and therefore give it a more deliberate look.

From Round 14, Challenge 4:
07 - I like the image part of this icon - the coloring fits the mood, and the light textures add an interesting eerie glow, but the text looks as if it was meant for a different icon. The deep red color doesn't go well with the brown tones of the icon, and there's not enough contrast to make it stand out. I'd suggest using a lighter color picked from the background, moving the text up to the middle, and setting it on screen, to make the composition of the icon more cohesive.

From Round 14, Challenge 5:
01 - The composition of this icon is simple, but it's enough to make the icon look interesting, I like that. Unfortunately, the texture you applied over the image is a bit too strong, and combined with the dark background, it makes some parts of the image disappear. As a result, Annie looks like a floating face, since that's the only part of her that remains visible. If the background was brighter, it wouldn't blend with the darker parts of the image, so I suggest extracting the characters if the original background was dark, or choosing a brighter color for it if you did replace the original background for this icon.

From Round 15, Challenge 2:
04 - I think you had a very interesting idea, but there are some issues with the execution. Brightening the screencap made some areas look overexposed, especially the left side of the character's face and the background, and you can see some sharp, jagged edges where the light is brightest; using layer masks to reduce the strength of adjustment layers in the problematic places would make the icon look more polished. The text is placed well, but the color and the font make it very hard to read - an outline or a white shadow would improve legibility. Also, while I like the texture and the composition you had in mind, the circle is awkwardly placed - neither exactly in the middle, nor off-center enough to look deliberately asymmetrical. Making it smaller, and focused on the character's face with some dark negative space underneath could give the icon a nice creative touch.

From Round 15, Challenge 4:
13 - The coloring and lighting in this icon are lovely, and the borders add a nice touch of vibrance, so great job with that. The scattered text is rather distracting though, and very hard to read without having to follow it letter by letter. I think it would have been a better choice to keep the letter spacing at a normal width, and put the block of text behind the character, or make the crop a bit wider to create more space in the top half of the icon, and put the text there.

From Round 15, Challenge 5:
11 - I really like the crop here, it's simple, but the coloring and texture make it work. I think the lighting is too strong though - the left part of her face is overexposed and looks flat in comparison to the right side. Masking out some of the adjustment layers/textures that were used to achieve this effect could help reduce the strength of the light, and make the icon look more balanced.

From Round 16, Challenge 1:
11 - The idea behind this icon is interesting and I think it has potential, but a few aspects need work. You didn't provide the original screencap so I don't know if it's possible, but I'd suggest making the background lighter, so that it doesn't blend with the subject's hair. Sometimes this technique works, but here, with a solid black background, it makes the icon look rather empty. The white decorative texture was a good choice for balancing the empty space, but it's not visible enough - the thin lines seem to emphasize how dark and empty the left side of the icon is, rather than fill it. I would also suggest upping the contrast on the screencap to add some highlights to the subject's face and clothes.

From Round 16, Challenge 5:
09 - Using the colors of the French flag is a great way of conveying the theme without using text, I really like this idea! There are some aspects of the icon that could be improved, though. The coloring of the image doesn't match the red/white/blue color scheme of the flag; there are some blue undertones in the coloring, but they are not vivid enough to evoke the flag colors. I think a more muted, or even monochrome coloring would work best here, as it would allow the icon to keep closer to the French color scheme.

From Round 16, Challenge 6:
03 - I think you had some really good ideas here - the composition is cute, the text does a great job of filling the negative space without taking the focus away from the subject, and the color scheme makes the icon pop. However, the way the subject is cut off looks rather awkward, and the white line only emphasizes the cut off, instead of hiding it. Since the composition is based around circles, it might have been a good idea to have the subject coming out of the circle placed behind her. Also, compared to the rest of the icon, the subject appears dark and undercontrasted - I'd suggest using a Curves or Levels layer to brighten her up and raise the contrast.

Votes from Round 7 & Round 11 MVP, jsfunction:
[Votes below cut.]
From Round 11, Challenge 2:
03 - This icon is quite dark on my screen, and it's a bit hard to make out the subject. Making his jacket (or even some highlights/outlines of it) brighter would improve it, I think - I'd recommend using a Black&white adjustment layer to turn images black and white, so that you can play with the luminosity of each color channel. Then again this icon has some amazing elements too, I really love the red blood details against the black and white, and the mood and look of the icon are a perfect interpretation of the theme!

From Round 11, Challenge 3:
06 - The dramatic yet soft lighting here is amazing, and I love the muted colors and the creative interpretation. My only concrit is about the text, which makes the composition a bit cluttered and its placement and font choices don't quite fit the image (the rotation and combination of different sizes look good though). I think the best option would be to leave the text out so there's more room for the lighting, but it might also work with a different font, perhaps something more decorative or cursive to match the dramatic look of the icon.

From Round 11, Challenge 6:
06 - I love the the literal interpretation here - how the teeth actually are the sharpest element here, which helps direct focus on them. The yellow eyes on a sepia icon are a fantastic detail that gives the icon that little bit extra. The only thing that doesn't quite work in my opinion is the busy upper corners, we only see a little bit of the background there but it attracts a lot of attention and makes the image look messier than it is. An easy way to make the icon really clean and stunning would be to paint over that part using a dark color picked from the icon.

From Round 11, Challenge 9:
02 - The images here are a bit too blended together so the smaller one gets a bit lost - making the blacks of her shirt a little brighter/darker than the hair of the larger image would help the smaller one stand out. Otherwise the blending is really good, the sizes and placements are in great harmony, and the bw coloring looks great.

From Round 7, Challenge 3:
16 - The crop and texture use in this icon are lovely, but I think the yellow and purple stripes/spots could look a bit out of place since the rest of the icon is so natural in coloring - maybe if this color combination was made a bigger part of the icon, like having them on the background as well, the detail would fit it better? It's still a great icon though and the sharpness is spot on!

From Round 7, Challenge 4:
15 - The contrast on her face seems a little flat to me and the texture use looks a bit random since it's barely visible and its colors don't really fit the cool tones of the image, I think making it a bigger part of the icon by adding the opacity and adjusting its colors a bit would integrate it better with the icon. I really like the crop though and the deep blues of the icon look wonderful.

From Round 7, Challenge, 10:
12 - The background looks *amazing* and I really love the texture use here, but I think the subjects blend a bit too much into the background and the bright pink faces are a bit unflattering. I think erasing the pink color/texture over their faces and leaving them brighter and more natural would have helped both of these problems a lot and would easily make it one of the best icons in the voting.

From Round 2 & Round 16 MVP, rocketgirl2:
[Votes below cut.]
From Round 14, Challenge 1:
11 - At first glance, it was hard for me to tell what was going on with the subject's face in this icon because the color of her skin and the red of the blood are not very different. If you're using Photoshop, a selective color layer could really help separate the reds and the yellows to make them pop; if you're in another program, it sometimes helps to take a brush to a blank layer and paint over something with the color you want it to be and then set that layer to soft light. For instance, on this one, I probably would have made the blood a bit darker and more purple to pop against the vibrant orange-yellow of her skin.

From Round 14, Challenge 2:
09 - I like the blend of caps you have going on and the black & white/color contrast in your icon. I do think the text placement could use a little work; "invincible" just seems like it should be a big thing because...invincible is an awesome feeling! Rather than having it cut off and making people figure out what it says, I would put it more front and center, and perhaps choose a font that really conveys that invincibility.

From Round 14, Challenge 4:
15 - I love the texture you chose, it's perfect for this theme. I do think it overwhelms the coloring of the cap, though, and makes the whole thing look rather muddy. You might try duplicating the cap, moving it above the texture, and playing around with its layer mode/opacity to see if soft light or hue bring back some of the colors of the cap. Or perhaps another coloring layer after you applied the texture could help set apart the colors of her face, her lips, her hair, etc. and make the icon really pop.

From Round 14, Challenge 5:
16 - I love the coloring of your icon, but the number of fonts you used makes the whole thing look cluttered. I also don't think the fonts quite work together; one is a script with an odd slant, one is a very thin font with very narrow letters, and the other is big and blocky. To get better-matching fonts, try matching things like letter width or the shape of the holes in the As, Os, etc. I would also recommend using no more than two different fonts on most icons because the canvas is just too small for so many fonts.

From Round 14, Challenge 6:
14 - This icon is very clever in the way you put it together with the cutout and the icons that symbolise the character. Right now, though, it looks kind of flat because there isn't a lot of contrast or lighting. Using some lighting textures or gradients to add some shape and contrast would help it really stand out.

From Round 14 MVP, burntheflaws:
[Votes below cut.]
From Round 14, Challenge 1:
14 - I like the use of shadows here, but the coloring is so intense and dark that it's hard to find a focal point to grasp onto, especially since your text is yellow and that's also distracting. I'd recommend using a different color for the text, and maybe even a different font, to add to the icon but still be cohesive with the overall image.

From Round 14, Challenge 2:
18 - I really like the composition here, especially with that texture use, but the image as a whole is much too dark for my taste. I believe you could still achieve the monochrome effect while having the subject be a lighter shade. Right now what stands out is the numbers and textures in the background rather than what should be the focal point.

From Round 14, Challenge 3:
01 - I like the colors you used here, but I think that gritty, smoky texture use feels out-of-place and doesn't add much to the icon. The white also makes the icon look a little LQ. If you had to use it, I'd suggest using a color fill layer on yellow, blue or some other color on multiply or color, then adding that as a clipping mask to the texture (which I assume is set on screen). That would add other pops of color and wouldn't make the icon look faded. However, I think it'd look much better with no textures whatsoever.

From Round 14, Challenge 5:
17 - While the composition of this is interesting, there are far too many blocks, and because of that the whole icon looks cluttered yet unfinished all at once. If I look closer I can finally tell it's Jackson, and I see some pretty coloring going on in each panel, but you don't get to appreciate those details when each block is so small. The background also doesn't quite match the rest of the images, because they're all darker or more intense while the background is sunny and bright and has a distracting texture of its own. I think it might look better if everything were made to be squares instead of diamonds, and if the background were a darker color or a more unifying texture.

From Round 14, Challenge 6:
04 - I like that darker coloring because it gives off a very mysterious, romantic, "olden days" kind of vibe. However, the borders and text combined with the blend mode you used overlap her and end up cutting parts of her shoulders awkwardly. Also, while I like the darkness of this icon, I think the light could be shifted and utilized in a better way to darken the naturally darker parts of the subject while bringing more light and contrast to the already lighter areas. Right now the dark to light areas look like an even gradient from top to bottom that doesn't take natural shadows and light into account.

From Round 12 MVP, cool_spectrum:
[Votes below cut.]
From Round 12, Challenge 3:
13 - I like the crop you chose, but I think that the subject comes off a bit too washed out, especially the arms. I would also suggest playing with darker colors in the future, because dramatic caps lend themselves well to a darker palette that helps set the tone. Think of it as mood lighting~

From Round 12, Challenge 5:
12 - I like the overall composition, but I feel that since the light texture you used is so large, they overwhelm the character a little bit. Making the texture smaller, or the character larger may help things feel more proportionate.

From Round 12, Challenge 6:
04 - Although the coloring looks really lovely, I find that areas of the icon look a bit grainy and maybe a little overly sharp in some areas. I like the effect in some areas, but in others it looks more like a mistake, so I would suggest the use of a mildly grainy texture to help give the icon a little more of a grungy look on purpose.

From Round 16, Challenge 5:
09 - I totally love your concept with this, but I feel that the meaning is lost because the colors aren't strong enough to create that instant connection that you need in order to create a symbolic piece. A little more saturation to the colors, and perhaps toying with making the subject's cap black and white would help make the message of your icon more clear via color association.

From Round 16, Challenge 6:
04 - Great cropping, and I like the red-orange coloring you've got on the left. I think erasing that greenish portion in his hair or painting over it with the orangey color, or maybe even transitioning to a yellow in the top right corner would have been a better option to keep the eye focused on his face and add a little lighting into the icon.

This is just a small selection. I will be adding to this post as I receive word back from contacted MVPs and/or comments from other participants who want to be included. MVP PMs will be going out slowly over the next couple days. Note: If you volunteered in the thread where this was suggested, please comment here as I'm not sure of everyone who put their hand up.
Tags: !information, !voting deconstruction

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