Eugene Vasjukov discussed the creation of a nice CG-portfolio, focused on the key things that should be in it based on his own experience with it, and mentioned a few things that shouldn't be added to the portfolio.
Hi, I am Eugene Vasjukov. I have been working in the gaming industry for around 6 years. And today I want to share my experience and talk about one of my favorite topics - portfolio creation.
To make a good portfolio, it's not enough to upload just 5-10 random pictures/renders. You can go way deeper than that. How should you present yourself? How to tell that I want to be more involved in hard-surface modeling rather than making a hair or making clothing? How to tell I love what I do and I am evolving, trying to get better and better? On all these questions and more, I will be answering in this article. I will use Artsation as the main example of the portfolio.
Portfolio as a Social Network
Think about it. On social networks like Facebook, we usually post only positive stuff. "Here I am in Spain", "Check out my new car" or "Yay, I won a gold medal!". In other words, we are showing only good things. And because of that a person who is gonna view our Facebook profile will think that our life is full of excitement and joy.
We could use the same strategy in presenting ourselves in our portfolio.
Show them what you got!
- you have any awards;
- if you have won any contests;
- you have had exhibitions;
- you wrote some articles;
- did some tutorials;
- taught some courses.
Not only that will tell that you are open-minded, that you are challenging yourself, pushing yourself forward by teaching others, writing articles, and finding time after work to join contests. Teaching and writing something is also a skill which means that you are ready to learn something new that does not involve 3D/2D.
I saw situations when people started to write where they're studying, when and where they were born. In the end, you might end up with an A4 amount of text. And this kinda info should be in your resume. Don’t overload your potential client/boss with a lot of information. Be minimalistic here.
A good example will be:
“Hi, I am Eugene. I specialize in characters. Six years in the industry. Been working for companies like “company name1” and “company name2”. Really enjoy creating realistic sculpts of clothing, faces, and textures, but also have an interest in stylizing. A team player, always ready to learn. Have experience in teaching, creating documentation, and providing feedback.”
Saw that? This little amount of text will already help to understand that I am serious about what I do, what I specialize in, and my job experience.
I believe that showing your best works would be more beneficial than uploading a huge amount of works. Focus more on quality. Of course, if you just started your journey in CG, then you might have one or two finished pieces. And that’s fine. But make sure that they are done with maximum effort!
Show some :
- angles of your model;
- maybe do a version that is clean than with dirt, wear, and rust;
- different lighting setups;
- different color variations/skins;
- references that you were using.
Make a render of your 3D model in the game engine (like Unreal engine). It’s also important for you to be able to make your textures look good in a game engine. Most of the time textures will not look the same as they are in your texturing program. And when you import them to the engine, roughness might be too high, diffuse looks too oversaturated, etc.
All this will help you on a more professional level. It’s a good idea to show not only beautiful render but the technical side of your work. Like topology and UV’s. By doing that, you will show that you can create art but also optimize it. Even a couple of works with all these stages might be enough for the studio to decide to hire you or not.
If your goal is to work in the gaming industry, show your topology. But only if you did it by hand manually, and not used zRemesher. Even though we already use zRemesher in production in some cases, we still need to understand how to make one manually and know where to cut or to add more loops/polygons. By showing zRemeshed version you tell that you don't know how to make a proper topology. The same advice goes for showing Uv’s. Those stages are important to know!
Employers/recruiters are busy people. Appreciate their time. They can view heaps of portfolios every day. I noticed that some people like to put everything in folders, I myself like organization. And in a working environment, it’s a huge plus if you can organize yourself, your work. But in this situation, I consider it unnecessary. If you are in search for work, do everything in your power so that the recruiter can immediately see what you got. And he wouldn’t have to click on one folder, then click back, then on another folder and etc. To minimize the number of clicks, just layout everything on 1 page.
Another thing If you specialize in hard-surface and you have models of guns, props, and cars for example. A good idea would be to layout them by theme. Guns first, props second, and cars would be the last one. You can actually go further to layout your works by color or maybe even create some kinda plot, I don't know. The sky's the limit!
Before a recruiter will click on your fantastic work, the first thing he/she will see is a little icon of it. It’s called a thumbnail. To make your thumbnail pop up more, show the best angle of your work. Fit everything you think will represent your work best. When you upload your image, Artstation will create a thumbnail for you. BUT! Most of the time composition will not be that great. That’s why you should create your own. Things to consider for a good thumbnail:
Show the most interesting angle of your work. If it’s a character, show his face, bust. Don't try to show the full pose. Because it's not gonna fit a square format right. And your model will look too little on a thumbnail. (but it might work if your model is a chibi character because the body is too small). If it’s a gun try to fit a handle, rear sight, and barrel.
If it’s a model that you did for a specific project, it’s important to add a logo of that game/movie to your thumbnail. That way, it will instantly tell that you did work for a real project. It will always be more beneficial rather than just the work that you did for yourself. Plus add some vigent on the downside for the logo, so it will pop up more.
Add some lights behind, to the left/right sides to emphasize the silhouette of your model. That way some minor details will be more visible and your work will look badass. But remember about composition, or else everything will become noisy.
Keep in mind that thumbnail is a pretty small image!
If you want to get into a particular studio, for example, id Software. You are very eager to make creatures for the next Doom. Then make sure that the employer sees that you are ready for such work, and you will cope with it. To do this, make a few concepts or models in the style of Doom. Just take the creatures from the game as a basis and do something like that. Because of that, the employer will see that firstly: you like the Doom franchise, and secondly, that you know how to work in the style of the game, respect the shapes, color palette, etc. The employer will clearly understand that you know exactly what you want. It’s gonna have a really huge impact on the employer.
Show What You Want to Do at Work
Don't put in your portfolio what you don't want to do at work. If you have a tire, screwdriver, and a wheel. This means that you are able to make only those kinda models which are props. A portfolio is showing your capabilities. If you want to make all kinds of weapons for Call of Duty, put them out, not just a grenade or a cartridge. For example, I like characters from METRO, so I have made a fanart of one of the characters and put it in my portfolio. Make yourself ready for the level of work that you want to do.
It is also possible that you want to work on games, but you enjoy doing something else, too. For example, I also like to do web designs. But I won't show them in my portfolio because I don't want to do them 5 days a week for 8 hours.
Don't forget to show your work experience. What studios have you worked in and in what positions? This will give your boss a positive impression of you. This information will help you understand how you have developed over the years, how your positions have changed. You can also always attribute to what exactly you did on a particular project. If you've only worked on some small projects, feel free to mention them as well. Because this is also an experience. It's better than not writing anything, but just having a portfolio with cool pictures that you did in your spare time. A person with experience will always be more competitive.
Your Software Skills
This advice is more for beginners. I saw so many examples of how people not being in the industry (I assumed that by seeing the work experience tab) put 10+ software that they know. And also saw people from Blizzard, Ubisoft, and etc. who put only 5+ software. My point is this looks really suspicious. I do understand that beginners think that the more they tell that they know, the more competitive they will be. But there is no way you have good experience in 10+ programs if you don't have any experience in the industry, or you worked for a year, or you are a graduate. If you opened a Maya a couple of times for importing and exporting objects but mainly work in 3DMax, that doesn't mean that you know Maya. Show that you know only that software pieces that you use on a daily basis/know very well. You need to be confident about what you write and show.
Tips About What Shouldn't Be in Portfolio
I think that you shouldn't upload works that you did from tutorials and from courses because as far as I noticed students just blindly copy each other or the teacher. And in the end, they have similar models, lightning, textures, and etc. Because of that, you will lose a sense of uniqueness. That also tells that yes, you did everything that teacher said to you. So you are a good listener. But in a work environment, there will always be situations where you need to come out with something.
It’s fair to say that it’s ok to copy someone at the beginning of your study. Follow the same steps of modeling by this artist, doing the same lighting by another one. In fact, it’s actually one of the good ways to level up your skills. You will end up with a lot of knowledge. But in your portfolio, try to upload unique works. And use that knowledge from tutorials to create something your own.
Works that are work in progress. Show works that are finished. I saw examples of how people are doing a 3D model. They start with a rough base, then they upload to their portfolio. After that, they finished with details which will be an update for that rough base. Then they changed something, another update. And it goes till the final render. Upload all your processes and final results at once. It’s a portfolio, best works, right here, right now! And not “You just wait for my next update”. Leave that for forums, social networks.
A portfolio will speak for you, not only about your experience and skills but also what you want to do at work!