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How to Post on the Internet

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I want to talk about the common questions and misconceptions inexperienced artists have, either when they start working towards becoming an artists or when they join Polycount. This is a culmination of advice I've given to people over the years and really, a bunch of stuff I wish someone would have told me when I started out.

That's cool, what software did you use?

This is something you may want to say; however, it's akin to asking a photographer what camera they use, or an architect which ruler they use. It implies that the reason something is impressive is because of the tools they use, not the talent they have nor the effort they put in.

Now, this isn't to say that you shouldn't ask questions about tools, software, workflows, etc (start here). You definitely should, but a detailed question will give you a much better chance of getting an answer, and the more effort you put into your inquiry, the more effort the person answering is likely to put in. "What software did you use?" is such a vague question that it's very difficult to understand what you want to know. For instance:

Q: What software did you use?
A: Maya (if you get a response at all)

What was accomplished here?

Q: Can you tell me about your workflow for creating the hair? Do you place the planes manually or do you have some sort of script or tool to do it? Did you paint your alpha mask by hand or bake it from geometry?
A: Interesting question, let me tell you about...X...Y...and...Z

Again, with a more detailed question, you're probably going to get a more informative answer. You can't expect someone to put in a lot of effort to explain what they are doing if you can't be bothered putting in effort to ask about it.

What software/tool/workflow is best?

This is an unanswerable question, what it really comes down to is what are you most comfortable using. Rather than knowing what the best tool is, you should know how to use as many of the tools you're likely going to need to use on a job. This makes you a more attractive potential hire, as you can hit the ground running.

Basic standards are Max and Maya for traditional 3d stuff, with Modo being very popular these days as well. Its best to know how to use both Max and Maya on a basic level, as nearly every studio uses one of these. You can get educational copies of each from Autodesk for free, so there is no excuse not to know them. Basic modeling skills will apply to any app, but you should know how to operate the interface of the big two.

Zbrush and Mudbox are the standards for sculpting, learn one or the other. Photoshop is required knowledge for everyone, it's the standard in every studio. Quixel's Suite and Substance Designer/Painter and becoming more and more popular for texturing.

How many triangles should I use for X?

This is another unanswerable question. It depends on a nearly unlimited amount of factors, like the style of the game, the target hardware, the importance of the asset, how close you can ge, how many other objects are on screen, the specific engine, what sort of shaders you're using, etc. Determining what is a reasonable amount of geometry to use is a skill in itself, and if you're unsure, ask, but be as specific as possible when you do.

How many triangles for a character? Is a terrible way to ask this question.
How many triangles for a current generation realistic character that needs to hold up to cinematic closeup views in UE4 on high-end pcs? Is a good way to ask this question.

What is the secret to overnight success?

There is no secret, you can''t fake it. There is no shortcut to putting in the work. To improve, you need to make one asset from start to finish, and then do this again as many times as physically possible. The only reliable source of improvement is unrelenting determination.

Is X software/tool/workflow cheating?

No, shut your mouth. Tools are merely tools, some idiot thought photography was cheating 100 years ago. Do you want to be that idiot? Everyone cheats, you need to use the tools available to you to the best of your ability to stay current in the games industry.

However, using a very minimal workflow to focus on fundamental skills can be a very productive exercise.

Do you know where I can find a tutorial for X?

Maybe, but you can't rely on tutorials for everything. Critical thinking and experimentation is one of the most important skills you could possibly have. Remember, at some point, the people who write the tutorials had to figure out how to do the thing.

Will you make a tutorial for me?

No, I will not. Its not because I don't like you, I'm sure you're a swell guy, but writing custom tutorials for people is an enormous amount of work.

I'm not good enough to post

There is no "you must be this good to post" sign next to the new thread or reply buttons. Polycount, and every community, thrive by having a diverse pool of users with various knowledge and skill levels.

I'm not good enough to give feedback

This is also not a thing. If you have some input to give, feel free to give it. Its up to the artist to decide if what you're saying applies or has value to their work. Giving feedback is a great way to start forging relationships as well.

I'm not good enough to finish my work/what's the point?

The key to improving with any task is to follow through from start to finish. If you don't finish your stuff, you won't truly understand the creation process. You should strive to get better with every finished project, and the more projects you finish, the more improvement you will see.

Everyone has to start somewhere, behind every amazing artist there is a person who used to suck, who worked until he/she was able to produce excellent content.

Nobody gave me any feedback so I stopped posting

The best way to get feedback is to post frequent updates. Giving up because you don't get any or enough feedback is a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you stop posting you certainly won't get any feedback.

Its important to remember that feedback isn''t only about you. Writing detailed criticism takes a lot of work. Everyone has a limited amount of time, so you need to show you're worth the effort, by working hard and being committed to improving your art. Again, posting frequent updates is a good start, but taking feedback seriously and trying to apply it to your work goes a long way too.

You might not suck enough for feedback

There are two types of artists that are very easy to give feedback to. The first is the total noob, whose work is so bad that errors are easy to spot, literally anyone can tell them why that Pokemon looks wrong. The second is the really awesome, experienced artist, often the work is so good that you don't have anything critical to say, so positive compliments are given.

So what if you're just sort of... okay? A lot of people fall in this category, and it can be hard to get noticed. Again there isn''t any secret or shortcut here, you need to be persistent and build relationships, give people a reason to get involved, show improvement over time and people will take notice. Posting your work frequently and leaving feedback in other threads is the best way to start cultivating relationships with other artists.

Not all feedback is created equal

Getting feedback is great, but not all feedback is necessarily good advice. As an artist, your job isn''t to mindlessly apply any and all feedback to your work, but to think critically and find out the best way to use feedback to improve your skills.

However, this is not an excuse to ignore feedback. Even if you disagree with feedback (and you will at some point), you should always try take something of value from said feedback. You should even try implementing feedback you don't agree with on occasion, you may find that despite what you thought, it improves your work.

OMG this rules

One last thought on feedback; telling someone how great their work is, even if it truly is, is not particularly productive. It does little more than stroke egos, and most artists appreciate criticism, regardless of skill level. If you're going to post a compliment, try to at least tell the person what you like about the piece, rather than OMG AWESOME I JUST JIZZED IN THIS THREAD, for instance:

OMG this is so cool +1 - This adds nothing to the conversion.
OMG this is so cool +1. I really love how dynamic the pose is and the locational scratches on the armor, which add an element of believably to the material! - This is a compliment well done, praise has been given, but not only that, the artist knows why you like the work, they know what they've done well which is very important in identifying where they have been successful in their work. If you get praise but never any specific information, its much more difficult to know what has worked well and what you should focus on for further improvement.

I'm in a rut

Everyone has been there before. Try to find a new perspective, watch a movie, go to a gallery, go on a hike, go out and experience something and try to put those experiences into your work. Start a new project if you're stuck on something, but try not to continually start new projects because you're not happy with the results. Sometimes you just need to power through it and finish your task, despite how lackluster the result may be.

Improvement is a gradual process

Improving your art takes a lot of time and energy. Improvement is rarely seen on a day to day basis, more like a month to month or even year to year basis. You have to trust that the process works and keep at it, hoping to instantly improve after watching a tutorial or reading an article is simply setting yourself up for disappointment.

Impostor syndrome, you're the only one who has it

Do you ever get the feeling that secretly, you're a total hack and have no idea what you're doing? Yeah, everyone else does too. Its called impostor syndrome, and pretty much every artist feels it at some point. Personally, I worry about this frequently, I''ve worried about it so often and for so long that its easy to identify exactly what it is. Recognize it for what it is (irrational bullshit), and work through it.

In my career, there was never an "ah-hah now I'm good enough" moment where I felt I accomplished some sort of mythical goal. Don't let fantasies like "when I finally get good enough" prevent you from posting, finishing work, engaging with others or otherwise improving yourself.

The industry is a very small place

Seriously, don't be an asshole. Everyone on Polycount knows someone who knows someone. That someone may be a lead at a studio that you could get you a job, or prevent you from getting a job. Your public persona on Polycount is how many people may remember you, and you will likely be associated with the things you say. You want to be known for the work you do, not your controversial beliefs.

This isn''t to say that you can't be yourself, just remember that everything you say on the internet is permanent and searchable, and it is common practice to look at forum posts when vetting a potential hire. You should always be aware of how you're presenting yourself, as you're essentially in a very casual interview every time you post on Polycount, or really any public medium that is easy traced back to your real world self. Diamonds, and internet posts, are forever.

Polycount is an art site, after all

Do I need a degree to get a job?

As an artist? No, you don't. As an engineer, it is much more important to have a degree. There are reasons you may want to get a degree (such as higher lifetime salary, or immigration/visa concerns) and also reasons you may not want to get a degree (debt - especially in the US, time you could be spending being awesome/doing contract work). More on this here.

Do I need experience to get a job?

No, but it helps. Those X years of experience requirements you see on job postings? Those are there mostly to weed out the noobs. If your work is good enough, most studios will consider you for a position.

Doing freelance work is a great way to get experience without actually having a job in the industry. Indie teams are often looking for talent and may by more suitable to inexperienced artists than larger studios. Mods are also a good way to get valuable experience, provided the project has solid organization and is run with some professionalism (having specific tasks and deadlines is a must).

You made it this far?

I'm impressed! It's important to mention that this is not a list of rules to live by. There are few absolutes here, these points are intended to make you think.

TL;DR: be nice, work hard and don't lurk.


  • skankerzero
    kanga wrote: »
    I really hate it when a poster writes something like: 'all those with positive or worthwhile advice may comment'. I think to myself, frack off reproductive organ face. The line is usually from someone whos work is lacking, mostly because they are busy with trying to be what they think an artist is instead of making and enjoying the act of producing art. All responses and crits by those who are informed or not are welcome, no crits or comments is a comment in itself.

    An art site should be full of all kinds of people making all kinds of stuff commenting in all sorts of ways. Activity should not be hampered by talk of 'guidelines'.

    I am sure the OP means well, but I really dislike the standpoint. This is an art site not an old folks home dammit!

    Yeah, you totally missed the point.
    This post addresses common tropes that cause people not to post here and redundant, repetitive questions.

    And EQ is quite accomplished. His art is far from 'lacking' as you say.
  • EarthQuake
    Yeah, I am confused where that came from as well. Can you quote something specific which made you think I was only suggesting people leave positive feedback? I just re-read the post and I didn't say anything like that.

    Polycount is and always has been a place for objective, critical feedback. Unlike a lot of other art sites out there where many people simply post "omg great jobz ur the best", art threads on Polycount tend to be filled with solid critique. This is something we need to hold onto, and nurture.

    Now, worthwhile advice/critique is definitely something everyone should try to post, it usually takes just a bit more effort to write, but is very much worth it. The opposite of worthwhile advice would be worthless advice, why would I encourage people to leave worthless advice?
  • kanga
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    kanga ngon master
    EarthQuake wrote: »
    Yeah, I am confused where that came from as well. Can you quote something specific which made you think I was only suggesting people leave positive feedback? I just re-read the post and I didn't say anything like that.

    Polycount is and always has been a place for objective, critical feedback. Unlike a lot of other art sites out there where many people simply post "omg great jobz ur the best", art threads on Polycount tend to be filled with solid critique. This is something we need to hold onto, and nurture.

    Now, worthwhile advice/critique is definitely something everyone should try to post, it usually takes just a bit more effort to write, but is very much worth it. The opposite of worthwhile advice would be worthless advice, why would I encourage people to leave worthless advice?
    I wasnt commenting on your work as someone mentioned, I like the work you have done. I dislike people who request a particular standard of response. I also dislike the arrogant comparisons to other sites especially since traffic is mostly responsible for a forums existence unless there are rich benefactors I am not aware of.

    I object to branding responses as worthwhile or not. People will ask stupid questions like you did when you started, people will get enthusiastic and post i luv u comments. People will make noise, mistakes and art. See a worthless comment would be incorrect technical information intended to hurt someone's work, not enthusiastic responses born out of goodwill. I know your post is well intended and many members here appreciate it. Just not me for the reasons I mentioned above.
  • EarthQuake
    Yeah, I guess we just fundamentally disagree. To me, posting those "OMG SO GOOD I JIZZED MY PANTS" responses are the laziest thing you can do (other than not posting at all), it doesn't do anything for the OP other than stroke egos and it doesn't contribute to the community as a whole. Just as in my OP I gave an example on how you can spend a few more seconds thinking about the post and transform it into something that at least conveys some sort of information.

    "Omg so cool!" - empty praise, not really saying anything
    "Omg so cool! I love how clean your hard surface work is" - better, now the artist has an idea why you like the work
    "Omg so cool! I love how clean your hard surface work is. Did you model model it all by hand, use booleans, or some other method?" - better yet, the artists knows you like the work, why you like the work, and you're asking a question that (if the OP is included to answer) could start an interesting discussion that would be beneficial to many other people who happen to read it. I don't know about you, but I've probably learned more from this sort of discussion than I've learned from every tutorial I've ever read.

    Are the last two responses that much harder to type than the first? Is there any reason why you, as an artist, would prefer to get the 1st response rather than the 2nd or 3rd?

    I think you're missing the point if you see what I've written here as some sort of list of rules meant to restrict people. On the contrary, my intention is to encourage people to post more productive, meaningful responses, which I hope will foster a richer, more supportive community.
  • kanga
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    kanga ngon master
    If I get a post with direction that is great. If I get praise that is great too. I will however take the time to tell you that I use Max/Maya, that I appreciate your request but am unable to act as mentor at the moment, that I don't have the resources to make tutorials for you right now?

    And that I value your reaction.
  • WarrenM
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    WarrenM Polycount Sponsor
    Instead of responding so literally, try to see what is being said.
  • kanga
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    kanga ngon master
    WarrenM wrote: »
    Instead of responding so literally, try to see what is being said.
    I think the OP and I understand each other just fine.
  • WarrenM
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    WarrenM Polycount Sponsor
    You're reading the same thread, right? :)
  • The Rizzler
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    The Rizzler polycounter lvl 9
    I think all kanga is trying to say is that any discussion is good discussion (what forums are all about), and even if people post "umg i luv u" posts, that still means your work is getting recognition and can be a nice boost for people. He does seem to be overreacting though, remember that this thread is just guidelines, there aren't mods going around banning you if you don't make perfectly constructive and analytical posts.

    Earthquake was right in creating this thread, as after reading it has influenced my posting style in the future - I try to point out something specific that I like that the artist has done or even ask questions to drum up a conversation as was suggested. The whole point of this thread is to suggest a higher quality of posting style in order to cultivate a positive art community
  • aleksdigital
    Kangas right. When I post something, if someone says "OMG SO AWSUM" why would I care? Why would I think of that as being "lazy"? Why then would I create a guide on how to "post...on the Internet?". Lol. I hope it never gets to that point for me, god damn.
  • MrHobo
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    MrHobo polycounter lvl 12
    I think the overall goal behind EQ making this list is help people understand how to have a conversation about work.
    Sure a quick "OMG" post is nice to see and Im sure appreciated but ultimately the examples he posted helps both the artist and the viewer to engage on a more rewarding level that can lead to both parties learning something.
  • EarthQuake
    MrHobo wrote: »
    I think the overall goal behind EQ making this list is help people understand how to have a conversation about work.
    Sure a quick "OMG" post is nice to see and Im sure appreciated but ultimately the examples he posted helps both the artist and the viewer to engage on a more rewarding level that can lead to both parties learning something.

    Right. I think there's some confusion, I'm not here to judge people, I've been the guy making the "OMG SO AWESOME" post more times than I care to remember, if you're that guy, it doesn't mean you're a bad person or anything like that. It is a missed opportunity though.

    Look at this from a different angle, I think we can all agree that Polycount and similar sites are an incredible resource when it comes to networking and improving your work. Every post, every interaction you make with people in this community is a chance to leave a good impression, to foster a relationship, to improve yourself. Anyone who reads those "omg awesome" replies will quickly scroll past them (either consciously or subconsciously) looking for the actual content. Those posts are simply not a good way to make an impression.

    How much stock you put into this is entirely up to you, but it is the reality of the situation. Not everyone wants to make an impression with every post, and that is totally fine. This thread isn't a list of rules for you to follow with each post you make, but rather more of a guide for how to maximize your opportunities.
  • stickadtroja
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    stickadtroja polycounter lvl 11
    yup what mr hobo said. why not send the "OMG" comment as a PM since it doesnt hold much value for other viewers?

    before i used to skim through the art dump threads to see if there was any interesting discussion happening. imagine that, to see the art of your favorite game, getting critically dissected by other industry proffesionals and entusiasts! what we all could learn from that!
    but sadly this never happens, and now i just look at the art in those threads and skip the comments.
    analogy; i rather read a review of a bands album than its fan mail.
  • EarthQuake
    Here's a pretty good video about that thing only you have:


  • kanga
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    kanga ngon master
    Well done. The truth will out!
  • darkmag07
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    darkmag07 polycounter lvl 10
    I'm not sure sending a PM with your "OMG" comments is as innocuous as you think. Although they do not provide as much feedback to the poster/viewer they do generate traffic for the thread and by keeping it higher in the list it could expose the work to others who may have more detailed feedback.
  • Niknesh
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    Niknesh polycounter lvl 9
    Impostor syndrome - Ok, this literally blew my mind, it explains a lot :dizzy:

    My personal favorite is one of the unanswerable questions though -  What software/tool/workflow is best?

    Great post man. This should be revered like the ten commandments.
  • zachagreg
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    zachagreg ngon master
    I'm going to chime in as someone that has received both positive and critical remarks on the things that they have posted. As Earthquake points out, I believe I am in the "not quite there" category. On this forum I find the most value in people that have something to contribute to the work that I do. I look at my work and constantly self critique. Which is a vicious cycle in itself. So I post here to get more broad spectrum and other minded critiques on my work. Don't get me wrong I love that people find joy in my work and may find that I've done a good job in one area or another. However, I am always looking to improve my work. I know for a fact that given a task between say Clinton Crumpler or Shawnell Priester I would come up short.

    That being said I also absolutely love when someone new can learn from my experiences and methods. I seek to teach them as much as I can, given I have enough knowledge to do so. I believe that Earthquake wrote a well described situation of many different common threads on polycount and on the countless comment threads he deals with on Facebook. (Of which Substance Designer Mats are now working seamlessly on Marmoset ;) thanks for putting up with that.)

    I do think though, EarthQuake, you could've gone more in depth with the fact that people that are starting out sometimes crave this feedback and to not get it a lot of times is disheartening. Whether it good or bad feedback. To be acknowledged is a wonderful thing and can validate many artists. I for one understand the busy life of any professional artist, but I do think that it is the Polycount community that brings this opportunity of critique and feedback, which I feel can be increased. At least from what I've observed.
  • Sebastian_Duran
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    Sebastian_Duran polycounter lvl 3
    Thank you for taking the time to do such great article. I can relate with this "Impostor syndrome, you're the only one who has it".
    I see so many awesome artist doing such creative work so fast that sometimes I feel like i am falling behind. but we just have to be relentless and finish what we started.

  • BradMyers82
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    BradMyers82 interpolator
    michalczyk:  I thought that was the funniest part!  lol.   EQ's taken a lot of time to write up this article and he clearly isn't trying to hurt feelings... he's just joking around because obviously its become an annoying question for him.  Like he said earlier, he's showing his personality a bit, and frankly I think I have been guilty of not showing enough personality when I first got on these forums.   Anyway, that's my opinion and I think most here would probably agree, correct me if I'm wrong.

    Good article EQ, it was a nice read and really made me reflect on how I've changed over the years thanks in part to being on these forums, and all the dedicated people here.

    Edit: Just realized I posted as if there was only one page, michalczyk wrote that way back. lol... oh well.
  • HAWK12HT
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    HAWK12HT polycounter lvl 11
    @EarthQuake Thank you for writing all this!! finally I can now direct so many people to your post who ask me about tri counts and I always pretty much say the same thing you said :D 
  • MrSocks
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    MrSocks polygon
    Thanks for writing this EQ, a lot of good stuff here.  I'm currently dealing with the feeling of not being good enough to post feedback  :tongue: mostly because it's something I haven't done much of before.  Guess it's time to get over that!
  • sacboi
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    sacboi insane polycounter
    Well written critical counsel @EarthQuake! not only for the novice to take note of but a few points for some old timers like me deserve re-aligning towards as well. 
  • Rnz
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    Rnz polycounter lvl 8
    Very well written post and definitely helpful to new artists and generally people with insecurities. 
  • killnpc
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    killnpc interpolator

    gawd.. helping people online with art questions these days can be so different than it used to be.

    it feels gross sometimes. i'm seeing a trend of users hardly putting any effort into their question, it's a guessing game as to what the f^ck their problem even is. they give half the information needed without any explanation of what they're showing, pertinent information of their situation, what packages they're using, and so on, it's extremely demoralizing in taking up helping others online.

    you'll help a chap, they could be an 8 year old, a Nigerian banker, a criminal under lord, who knows who i'm helping. then they'll f^cking tick latch and be real dick about the transaction, like i should have answered their sh^t yesterday or better, or like, my help wasn't sufficient, like it didn't expertly navigate their shadow tangle of a mind and fall pleasantly into their brain with ease. can you make a video? can you just do it for me? like yeah kiddo, you have to do some thinking.

    this "tell me what you know and go thank your self" model is unsustainable. ya' slugs! 🤗

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky


    if it doesn't help the person (or they refuse to help themselves), your answer may still help others in the future. That's what I say to myself anyway - it helps me not give a shit if the person is an ingrate.

    There is probably a lot more people asking questions now, and a ton of them are children.

    I still get help from reading threads from 5+ years ago so I just figure every entry into the archives is a little land mine of goodness somebody will step on some day. I also find a lot of value in reading other peoples opinions, even if its not a direct, cut/dry answer, because as an isolated developer it's helpful to get a sense of how people think about certain topics. What sort of vocabulary they use to describe things can offer a lot of insight, help you think about things from new angle and help avoid getting in ruts, etc.

  • killnpc
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    killnpc interpolator


    very healthy perspective, thank you

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