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The Dark Arts

everyone's a perfect match before the fire

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Hi Aria! Kara here with your critique - sorry about the wait!


I think you're brilliant, tbh. <3 I can't believe how young you are! I made graphics when I was your age too but I was absolutely terrible hahaha. Nowhere near your level of brilliance. You have amazing composition. It's so interesting, intricate, and well put-together. I can't get over how brilliant +this banner. The coloring is so beautiful and striking, the composition is perfect, and everything just looks so good! You have an amazing eye. Your chapters blow me away too. The coloring is really nice and vibrant, you have excellent texture use, and everything is just arranged in such an eye-catching nice way. Major props.


My only piece of advice, really, is to be careful that you don't go overboard sometimes. You don't have to insanely busy compositions to make things interesting. You make everything look interesting, like +this. I love the use of negative space. It looks so good! You definitely have heavy coloring, like sometimes I might pull it back just a bit. It looks looks so good +here and +here. (Though in the first, I might recommend erasing some of the texture off the girl's face to the right as I'm not sure it adds much - but that's just my opinion. Regardless, the coloring is lovely), but a bit too contrasted +here and +here. The first also doesn't have the best quality. Perhaps from too much coloring/textures? Not sure exactly, but be careful. I like the effect of the second sig and I think it looks really nice, I just think that it might improve from a little of the textures being erased/lowered in opacity for the girl on the right. But this is honestly really nitpicky. I think you pull off most things that you do very very well. Just something to watch out for, perhaps.


That's really honestly the only thing I have for you. I think you have a really brilliant style. I love that you are constantly trying new things and new compositions - keep doing that! If you feel like you're in a slump, download some more textures and stocks that you have never used before! I really like the way you branched out with your Soul banner. Don't feel like you have to stay trapped in what you think is your 'style'. It will definitely help you to brand out and try new things, and your style will definitely come across anyways. Once you have one, it doesn't go away. It comes across in all things you make! Just keep stretching it out. Like make yourself stay away from your line/circle-y texture thing for a graphic. Make something super simple. Make another stock banner. I don't think you're a bad place at all. You are so creative and you're making really great things. Like really great. I'm with Ayesha, don't be too hard on yourself! We all get in slumps, but that doesn't mean you're any less talented than you were before. Keep looking through galleries, challenges, old challenges, ask friends for some advice, make things about your favorite music, TV, movies, etc. Just keep making things and you will find yourself out of your rut really soon! I don't think the quality of your graphics have suffered - just your motivation. It'll come back.


Keep up the amazing work! Feel free to PM with any questions! Hope this was mildly helpful! <3

Edited by klutzy_kara

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Been putting off replying to this for so long it's literally been six months

But seriously, love all of you <3


En + Aura + Alishya + Eva + Kay + Meggie + Zi + Mariam + Vanessa + Jordan . omg thank you all so much I honestly feel flattered and right back at you guys y'all awesome[r THAN ME]

Ariel u and ur fancy words omg take that drink you beautiful person and toast to yourself because you're awesome <333

Lily <3

Smelly no it's unfair because i don't have yours D: and all the graphics are thrown at u bc ur faces are 100% perf

Phoebe thank you so much ily <333 and that's totally normal I totes want to eat everybody's graphics 2 i feel you

Athirah omg b a e there is no such thing you're too nice q_________q i will try my best to stay that way or summat <33333

Laura aw thank you thank you so much T______T


Ayesha + Kara the crit you two have given me is helping me so so much to the both of you thank you thank you and a showering of a thousand chocolate chip cookies <33333 you guys are the best

Edited by aim&ignite

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heeey aria! it's karly, here for your critique :loves:

right, you wanted boot camp esque, so drop to the ground and give me 20! just kidding, but I am going to run through all of your weak points like you suggested and end on a positive, fluffy note. cool? cool!


see, the thing with this is that you use a variety of images but I admittedly do see where this might be a point. you use a nice variety of fonts and images but most of your graphics tend to be texture-based with a scrapbook-y feel. try pushing yourself out of your comfort zone! stock isn't as scary as it seems, and having one stock-based piece in your gallery could prove that hey, I have a great style going on here, but I'm not only bound to textures.


other than a few pieces being blurry (+this and +this) I don't actually see filtering as much of a problem! you do wonderfully on some (like +this) and in other places it's not necessarily noticeable but not detracting, either. I'm definitely not the person to go to about filtering since I mostly use sharpen with the occasional topaz, sooo... :P if you want to get rid of the blurriness, merge all layers (idk if that's the term, but I use alt+ctrl+shift+e or something like that) into one layer across the top and sharpen that. you can change the opacity to whatever sharpness looks best so it isn't blurry, but isn't overly sharp either!


naaaah. other than +this being a bit too bright and +this a bit too saturated, I don't think you have this problem at all. your coloring is absolutely stunning, especially +here and +here! :wub:

iv. STYLE.

uhhhh girl I don't know what you mean by this being a problem! your style is so unique to tda and it's wonderful to see. other than expanding your style to using the occasional stock, I think you don't have any problems here at all. if you want to understand what your style is, I see it as a softly colored, scrapbook feel. kind of hipsterish. it reminds me of the west coast. :')


see, here's the thing -- to me, your graphics revolve around creativity? your composition is so utterly creative I'm in awe, and I think other than the fact that everything is based around textures, you're fine on this front. if I were to suggest doing any two things differently for a graphic or two, it would be to try more mono and use stock. I think your style is so wonderful that you could mesh using textures and stock lovely, but you'll never know until you try!

other things I see are simply making more graphics and filling up those categories! your blends and sigs are great, but try a CI or a banner or two! also, icons -- with your use of textures being on point in everything else, I think you could make some really great icons. in a couple things, the focal point sort of strays off so I might work on making those stronger in some pieces.

but girl, your graphics are wonderful. critiquing you was terribly hard because you're basically perfect. I hope I helped some, and if you have any questions, feel free to pm me! :loves:

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:dumbles::dumbles: Hey Aria! :dumbles::dumbles:

I'm here with some christmassy crit!!!

Sorry it took so long to get to you - elves get really hectic around christmas time,

esp with uni...assignments and making presents n such ;)

anyway I'm here now and I'm v sorry it took me so long!

As someone who's in awe of your work this is gonna be v v hard for me to do *soldiers on*.

You said your acknowledged weak points are over colouring and busy composition/focal point which I'll try and go over!

Focal Points:


So I read over your admin crit that Ayesha gave you, and I think you've taken her advice on board and you have improved since then! For example here++ the focal point is really clear and you've used some clever colouring to show me where to look, and your use of text really adds to that direction. In some graphics it's still an issue like here++ the people in the sig are all of similar size, and because the text isn't near a particular person and the colour blends into the graphic - there's nothing in the graphic that actually stands out so I can see the focal point. I'd say maybe you need to experiment with sizing in your graphics, try and show a clear difference and know yourself where you want people to look. What I do, is take a break from making a graphic once the base is done or mid colouring and then come back to it. Sometimes if you know the graphic so well you kind of forget other people are going to see it for the first time, and a fresh pair of eyes can do a graphic some good. I think a similar issue is in this CI++ - I absolutely love the composition but because of sizing I'm kind of unsure whether to look at the text or the girl and then the guy on the left side is kind of forgotten. I'd maybe remove or resize the mono guy, and then make the girl bigger and move her to the left a little (if you got rid of mono-man...idk why that amused me mono-man). I think again it might be a case of taking your time, and looking at graphics critically. As a staffer this is something I struggle with too, because we've reached that level now but then as well there's always something we can improve on...it's weird :P


over colouring:


Again in some cases, over colouring works and sometimes it doesn't. Here++ it works brilliantly! This banner has a real edgy old school-tda vibe and the over saturation on the girl's lips works. In some cases, I think the colouring just needs a little bit of fine tuning. For example in this blend++ everyone's skin tones are a little bit mismatched which makes the graphic inconsistent. I'd add a little bit of contrast to the two smaller people (I think working with the curves tool would fix it up nicely) and the main girl is really over saturated and a little too yellow. I think if it was toned down on her hair and got rid of completely on her face and hands it would look better - as she looks really unnatural and doesn't fit with the rest of the graphic.


This next thing is just a little bit of nitpicking but it's something you might want to watch for in future. When you've got a lot of colour going on, adding some strong blacks to it makes the graphic a little too overpowering and a little messy. I'm referring to this sig here++ the overall colouring is fine, but I feel like the black textures are a bit unnecessary and are almost covering the girl and confusing the focal point a little. when you have colouring like that, I'd maybe experiment with white textures instead. You've not done it in any other graphics but I just thought it was something to look out for!




I think you have some absolutely gorgeous pieces in your gallery and your banner section particularly is beaut - I'd just say as a staffer it can be easy to fall into routine and habits and we've got to keep experimenting and pushing to try something new or you can just fall into a rut and make the same little errors in every piece. You're not making massive mistakes and your graphics still look hella pretty, I'd just say remember to try out new things and keep mixing it up!


If you have any questions or need to PM me about anything in this crit then please don't hesitate to let me know!! I hope I wasn't too harsh D:


Bex (aka advent calendar elf)

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It has been far too long since I last looked in your gallery.

WOW! Everything in here is perfect.

Your graphics are super pretty.

I especially love your signatures. The colours and comp are perfect.

- Gaby

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I'm dying over the coloring on all of your graphics. Literally. I'm dead. Thanks. :P


That magnets banner is so unique and I love it so much. The texture use is really good!


My FAVE thing however would be your blend! I really really really hope you make more!

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Aria, my love, let me tell you something true.

You are one of my favourite artists on this site (perhaps even the favourite)

Do you know why?

Because even though you have so less things in your gallery

(please add mooarrr), it still is the best thing I have seen all year. :yes:

BECAUSE YOUR STYLE UGH. I wish I could have yours. Seriously.

Everything you make is so you (do you get what I mean?) It doesn't

follow anything trendy. You MAKE the trends. You define creativity.

Your gallery gives me life *prostrates in humble supplication*

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Hey! :D


I'm really excited to see that you updated your gallery and you've been posting some new graphics. Your gallery is super inspirational and I love everything in here so I squealed a little bit when I saw that you had new things. Seriously, please keep making more. Your graphics are just so on point. :wub: You have one of my favourite styles ever on this site.


I love the way you compose your graphics and use text like [here] and the soft, hazy quality graphics like [this] and [this] have is incredible. And how the hell did you make [this] so cool?


You basically need to make a hundred tutorials so that I can figure out how you make such amazing graphics because my current theory is simply that you're magic, but that can't be true. Please make more soon! :D



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putting off replies is really a bad habit of mine :')


Karly & Bex thank you so so much for the critiques I swear I've learned and applied so much from what you've suggested (at least, I really hope it looks like it, because I really did) and I know I've become even more aware of what I should work on and what I should look out for <3 <3 <3

Gaby <3 <3 <3 It's been so long since I've seen you around! Thanks for visiting my gallery ^.^

Amanda thank you! I'm dying over all the colouring in your graphics too *O*

Vanya omg where have you been????? And I could totally say the same for you I am undeserving of this praise T___T If anything, your graphics are what literally bring me back to life <3

Ben hello there! Thank you so much -- though not as much as your texture usage, honestly man your skills are insane

Anna OMG YOUR COMMENT LITERALLY JUST MADE MY DAY I COULDN'T STOP SMILING what a nerd, i know I'm literally just crying over here over how sweet your comment was I seriously don't even know how to reply to it T_T it's definitely not magic though, ahhhhhhhhhhhhh I can't say anything more just thank you so much <3

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Hi Aria!

Just dropping by to leave a bit of gallery love for the holidays.

You’ve got some really creative stuff in your gallery. I really love how you work with bold, primary colors and lots of texture. It gives several of your graphics a really cool vintage feel.

Your Gods Of Minor Calamaties Banner is super cool. I love the comp and the pops of brightly colored mono against the black. This really shows your skill with textures too. And can we just talk about how insane the text is for just a moment? Seriously, so good.

I also really like your Choux Pastry Heart CI. I remember when you first posted it and how much I really liked the vibrant colors on the white background. It has a nice softness to it too.

Wishing you happy holidays and a new year filled with fun and laughter! :hug:


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hey aria!! I'm here to spread the love :loves::loves::loves::loves::loves:

i've always loved your style, especially your colouring!
You manage to keep things so vibrant but also so dark,
mixing colours with the use of black - it's such a clever technique!!
& the bright use of mono here++ is beautiful, i can't deal with ho


your comp and texture use drives me insane as well,
you go from using one person in one banner to six in another?!?! How??????


I also love how creative your text is, all the different fonts and colours in one graphic
and how they actually feel like part of the canvas and not just thrown on top at the end
all the effects and shapes you put on the words is really amazing and i can't help but stare *_*


pls teach me your ways <3



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hi love :loves: i just wanted to drop in and say

i've admired you for ages and

your style is quite literally my goals lkjhkjdhfg

like, this is the level of detail and creativity ive always wanted to achieve ;o;

keep being amazing!!!!!!!!

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a few years isn't too late to reply, i hope?

@TreacleTart it's been a while since bblb hasn't it? i hope you've being doing well since then! i'm sure i've mentioned this before but thank you so much for the love!!

it's been four years since i made that banner but it's arguably my most recognizable piece XD also i never noticed how much i used primary colors til you mentioned it?? 

didn't realize i was that much of a creature of habit haha thank you once again for dropping by!!!

@beyond the rain  bex!! you absolute legend!! i should be the one asking you to teach me your ways considering how rusty i am like everything you said i could say

exactly the same about you i am not worthy T_T  thank you so much for the love!!

@paper doll jean you can't just say this and leave you're like my favorite aesthetic ever and i'd do many strange, unspecified things to learn all your graphic secrets.

i am like, the opposite of goals ??? but seriously thank you so much for your kind words and you also stay awesome love!!!

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