Artists from such big companies as Riot Games, Insomniac Games, and Epic Games gave a brief talk on common issues with creating the right portfolio, the importance of the presentation, discussed how exactly you should compare your work and gave useful tips for artists on how to make their portfolio better.
Artists tend to focus on improving your technical skills but leaving aside the content, the message, the idea of the project. The taste plays an important role. It’s easier to teach someone how to use Photoshop better than to teach the process of learning what your passions are. The context is essential, so don’t miss it out.
Tip 1. Keep the Portfolio Clean
The message of the portfolio should be: “I want to be hired by you”. Try not to complicate the visual part of the portfolio: no extra demo reels and weird design. The key function of the portfolio is to reduce the friction between the person reviewing it and the content itself.
Tip 2. Refresh Your Work With Outside References
Bringing the outside impressions to your work is refreshing. Nature can be a good reference, and keeping the realism of the scene is a good choice. You can take something realistic but change little details, for example, use different materials and change its transparency. It’s all about the small choices you make that bring the originality and your own taste to the art.
It’s all about the concept, so always reviewing your art and going back to it will help make the portfolio look like it’s actually yours.
Tip 3. Compare Your Work With Art of the Right Bar
These days, you have the reference points to compare your artworks against: the Artstation, the PolyCount, and the community.
Keep in mind that you’re comparing yourself to the pros of the industry. You might not be able to beat Gavin’s characters, but your goal is to chase him. His art is your bar.
Talking about the bar, look at the right one when checking the works at Artstation or other platforms.
Another misconception that can occur when comparing your work is to think that if you are at the top of the class, then you are hireable is the biggest misconception. Always broaden your horizons.
Tip 4. Breakdown Your Environment From Macro To Micro
The beauty shot of your piece, for sure, is the first thing that grabs the attention. It helps to see that everything is in harmony. But if you go from macro to micro after the beauty shot, breaking the shot down, it shows the technical choices you made.
Elevations and smaller breakdowns are beneficial, too. Showing how the player is going to experience the scene is also gratifying.
Tip 5. Make Sure That The Pieces You Are Applying Are Interesting For You
Make sure that you are applying pieces that you want to work on or that you can find a hook that still makes it interesting for you.
For instance, if you are working on Space Marines, this can be quite boring, but if you’re adding references like sixties NASA tyle, or any historical background and bringing interesting shape language and details to something that is
Tip 6 On How To Shift Designs Of Your Portfolio
The transition from stylized to realistic environment AAA game art style is hard since there should be an afterthought overwise the message is going to be awkward and mixed.
You have to set all the stuff aside and work as if none of this exists and drives the quality of the art, making it look high-end realistically looking and setting all the details of the piece right.
The other experience can go as a compliment in the resume. It will show that you care for the project you apply for but you can also work in the other style.
Tip 7 On How To Represent a Full Game Project in Your Portfolio
If you have a whole game that’s done, then clip some interesting pieces together like a trailer. When you have finished the project, take care of recording, do video editing and making it look juicy and speedy.
Important note: you should represent your work only, so the hiring manager can see what actually your skills are.
Tip 8. If You Are a Tech Artist, Don’t Forget To Show the End Result
Tech art can be different. In Epic Games, it’s about shaders and technical understanding of the rendering pipeline.
For the technical art portfolios, you shouldn’t forget that you have to be a technical and an artist. Don’t slide into one side and put nodes network and HLSL screenshots, otherwise, it will make the team wonder if you have a soul. You have to be careful and show that you are aesthetically have something to say. For instance, you can use a still image and give it a life using all the techniques like complex shaders and effects.
Make sure that the end result is pretty, don’t abandon the visual side.
Tip 9. Include In-Engine Work, If You Apply for a Gaming Company as an Animator
If you are an animator and you want to apply for a gaming company, you should include in-engine work.
Usually, artists include a lot of their cinematic work, which is important, but don’t forget to include the technical side that shows your expertise in the animating of the character, how to make them run, move in the space. Show that you know how to work with the intended angles in the game.
Pick something that is in the context of how games are actually made and animate to that standard. It will show that you can get creative in the animation and know how to work on various moves rather than just moving from pose to pose.
Going back to the presentation, consider the camera, put it on the perspective. This little effort will make you stand out from other applicants.
Tip 10 On Technical Portfolio Requirements for Concept Artists
It all depends, some people don’t like to see any process in the portfolio. As for Clair, it’s cool to see thumbnailing, color blocking. If you show that process, and I can see the progress that you got stronger each time. Adding iterations also depends on you. It’s great to see how the work evolves from 3 silhouettes to a full project.
Make sure to check out portfolios of Greg Foertsch, Moby Francke, Gavin Goulden, Claire Hummel, Wyeth Johnson, and Alison Kelly to see how they worked on their portfolios. Please note that these tips were originally shared during GDC 2019. You can watch the full talk with tips and stories from artists here.