I enjoy reading bad art advice. I don’t know why. I don’t want to see train wrecks, but bad art advice and I’m like a moth to a lamp. This week’s amazing advice, as it so often is, was found on reddit!

The first OP posted what I would consider a decent underpainting of a Gundam. Yes, I know what Gundam is! You should see the unfinished boxes of those things my husband has in my garage. ANYWAY, I’m not posting this person’s work, I think they were off to a great start, but they were lacking contrast on the shiny bits. Everything was painted in WAY too light. Simply correcting values and hyping up contrast would have made a night and day difference. What did people advise?

I’ve ruined too many paintings trying to change or perfect them when I shoulda just left them alone!

Geneius Reddit User

No. You did NOT ruin paintings trying to change or perfect them. If they were good at that stage you wouldn’t have WANTED to change or perfect them! Not finishing something because you’re afraid to “mess it up” is senseless. You don’t learn from that and your art is still not looking how you wanted it to. Layer until it looks good! Keep GOING! In this specific case, the artist was working in acrylics so it’s not even like he could have hit a point where he couldn’t just add more layers if things went wrong.

Let’s be realistic. If you’re a beginner, your art ISN’T GOOD! That’s not a bad thing, it is just how it is with art. You don’t hand someone a violin and expect it to sound good after a couple of months. Stop worrying about messing up something that isn’t good yet anyway! If you want to progress you have to paint some ugly layers. Then you correct those. Then correct them some more. Then mess them up worse, learn from that and ADD MORE LAYERS! Don’t value your early works so much that you’re unwilling to learn and progress because something might look worse for a layer or two.

Harder edges and more contrast in your values; A black outline to help define edges can help, too.

Another Genius Reddit User

This person was actually correct in the contrast and values. So that is where their advice should have stopped. But NOPE! Add black outlines. *sigh*

Now I could argue that a lot of Voltron representation is a cartoon and they would have black lines, but that is NOT what this artist had created. They were working from a model if I remember their post correctly. Black outlines are for cartoons. THE. END.

If you want something to look more realistic, focus on your values and contrast (like the commenter said initially). If the foreground is light, make what’s next to it a bit darker, NOT AN OUTLINE! THIS is how you better define the subject.

actually think it’s perfect the way it is. I know it might not be what you want but I see a lot of really good art on this page that people are trying to improve. I get that that’s the point of this sub but I really wish more people would just chill and embrace their art for what it naturally is.

Yet Another Genius Reddit User

I get wanting to be nice and make someone feel good. But they posted asking for specific advice. Leaving your work looking how you DON’T WANT is NOT advice. That’s just lazy. You can wrap the lazy in kindness all you want but it’s still lazy. Embrace your art for what it naturally is? Untrained? Is that what you mean? Because this artist has the potential to become phenomenal but you’re encouraging them to stay a beginner for feels or something? Your skill in art is NOT natural. Your interest in art yes, but skill is developed. You WORK for it. Can you imagine someone saying this to ANY other profession? Dr you’re not good at sutures, but I think you should just embrace your natural ability. Mechanic? The cars never really run well after you work on them but you should embrace your inadequacies.

It drives me crazy that so many want to live in this fantasy land where the first time you pick up a paintbrush is where your art should magically stay. That’s BS. If you want to improve, you work for it. NO ONE starts out amazing. By this commenter’s advice, no one would EVER get good at art.

Now these comments are always fun to read, but keep in mind, if you’re honestly looking for good advice, you’re not going to find it on reddit. Very VERY few experienced/skilled artists are spending time giving advice there. Most of the users in the art groups are teenagers. I wouldn’t recommend taking relationship advice from them any more than I would art advice.