Rating art on 16c is something of a sore spot with some. I like the rating system but it needs more ratings to be useful. If only a few rate works then we’ll never get a chance to see some of the best of the best float to the surface because it will be based on the opinions of just a few.
So I thought I would take a moment to provide some transparency to how I rate art on the archive and would love to hear how others do too.
The rating system on 16c as it is right now is out of 10 stars. My system for rating would be the same if it was 3 stars, 5 stars, or 10. Ultimately it should follow a bell-curve with almost all art being a 5/10 because it’s average and that is not an insult. We aren’t all LD! or Somms but can see our progression against the masters if we are honest. Much of the art I produce is a 5 and it’s a solid benchmark to work against. If I doubt a piece I am looking at I almost always give it a 5 and then rerate later if I change my mind.
I rate logos, rip, and ansi art and tend to stay away from ascii as I think it’s important to understand the medium before you critique it and I still lack a full understanding of ascii. Anything else such as jpgs or “hi Rez”, legos, or cross-stitching doesn’t belong on a text mode archive and I ignore them or rate them a 1. This is an admittedly spiteful preference and I tend to reserve 1s for anything released after the year 2000 and prior to that I ignore it. If I wanted to see poorly airbrushed 200x200 gifs of skulls I’d go to Deviantart.
I take four main pieces of criteria into account when I view ansi art. Composition, shading, lighting, and ansi aesthetic. It’s worth noting the “ansi aesthetic” is something of a nebulous concept but one I find most artists in the scene understand. It’s the difference between block art and pixel art and very deserving of its own post.
There is a fifth dimension but that is harder to articulate in that I do consider if an artist brings something totally new to the scene and I will take that into special consideration.
One note, I do not take the publish time of the piece into account. I used to do this and have been trying to rerate those pieces. It’s not that I don’t respect what people did in 1994 for ansi. However, the only way to have a fair and honest rating system is to make sure you rate people against the same criteria and making an exception for work done in 1994 means everything gets skewed.
My rating for art is as follows:
1 Star: The artist clearly does not understand the medium and whatever it is I am seeing is almost completely incomprehensible. Not much gets a 1 star but if it does it means I wish it could be deleted from the archive for the betterment of all ansi.
2 Star: The artist is learning ansi or doesn’t yet understand the ansi aesthetic. No half-blocks are used to smooth lines, shading is over-used, and the intention of the artist is barely understood.
3 Star: The artist has shown they understand the ansi aesthetic but struggle to execute on any of the four criteria. Proportions are totally off, lighting and shading are incorrectly applied, composition is not existent. A font is only barely legible and not artistically-so.
4 Star: The artist understands the ansi aesthetic but is still struggling to fully execute on their intention. This where we see a lot of artists over-use shade blocks, utilize composition that doesn’t fit the canvas at all, or fall into the floating-head* category. A font is well drawn and shaded but lacks cohesion across letters or the artist ran out of canvas.
5 Star: A truly average piece. Most art should get a 5. The artist understands the ansi aesthetic and has communicated clearly their intention in what they drew. I would expect mastery of half-block/side-block usage, decent shading even if lighting is off, only some over-use of shade blocks, and composition is forgiven if the piece simply “terminates with a logo*” or just stops without fully being realized.
- I think the scene is too forgiving for art that the artist can’t finish so it terminates with a logo. That is just sloppy composition and will never get beyond a 6.
6 Star: The artist is clearly a practiced artist and is producing art that is intentional. There are many pieces that are made by artists that I do not like their style but I respect an ansi artist who understands the ansi aesthetic, shading, composition, and yet chooses to do something unique and different. In general pieces that get a 6 are simply better than most but lack in more than one of the main dimensions of criteria of composition, shading, lighting, aesthetic. The piece could be excellent but unfinished or rushed.
7 Star: Anything a 7 and above I consider produced by a real practitioner of ansi art and we simply just have to start nit-picking. Typically this is where we see composition play a larger part in criteria. The artist typically has a solid understanding shading, lighting, and the ansi aesthetic and one of them might be off while others off only slightly.
8 Star: Anything 8 and above I consider produced by an ansi master. All four criteria are well established and only one of them is off and typically only to a small degree.
9 Star: The piece is truly great. All four pillars of criteria are firmly executed. Only the smallest details are off. The only thing that separates it from a 10 is “Is this piece one of the best ansi of all time or simply just a fantastic piece?”
10 Star: Flawless. Not a single block could be made better. One of the best pieces of ansi of all time.