What not to put in my portfolio?

Discussion in 'I wanna be a Game Artist!' started by milkcarton, Aug 20, 2003.

  1. fiendishmonotreme

    fiendishmonotreme Hardcore Gamer One Of Us

    From looking through scads of resumes from artists and from hearing feedback about them from our artists ALONE, I can tell you these wee basics:

    * For God's sake LABEL YOUR SHIT. Put your name, the position you're aiming for, your phone number, e-mail, and street address (if it can fit) on EVERYTHING. CDs, tapes, everything. You'd be surprised how annoying this can be. I can tell you that we got literal trash bags full of resumes and such from Siggraph, and things get separated - labels help a LOT.

    * cough up the extra $0.50 for better packaging or whatever. Jewel cases for CDs can shatter (plastic DVD cases are stronger, and you can pick them up FOR FREE at your local Blockbuster if you go in and nicely ask them if they have any extras - same for tape cases), and tapes easily slip out of paper cases. Papers can bend and fold if you put them in crappy envelopes or folders. You don't have to try and wow possible employers with how badass your folder is - just give them something that keeps your stuff from breaking.

    * Please try to keep everything together. In sorting through those trash bags, I had to chase down countless tapes and CDs and DVDs that got separated from their resumes. The thoughtful people who put everything in a well-organized plastic folder-bag-thing... man, I wanted to give them a big sloppy french-kiss in thanks. That statement aside, organization might not get you hired, but it's definitely a plus, and at a base level, it ensures that all your crap will get there in one piece.

    Now. All the other professional stuff? Our artists echo that. Try to do:
    - good quality low-poly models. A lot of polys make things look nice, and make things go sloooooooooooooow. If you can make something look really awesome with a tiny amount of polys, you can practically write your own meal ticket. Or so I've heard ::grin::
    - once again, don't put crap in there. If you're not 100% sure that what you're featuring is something you'd want to be represented by, just don't put it in there. Imagine that you're only going to be judged on ONE THING you put in there - you should feel that confident about all your material
    - don't rush yourself. There's not going to be a universal shut-down of hiring artists. Take the time you need to feel really good about your portfolio. Don't take forever to get your ducks in a row, but don't rush yourself to an unsatisfying conclusion.
    - remember that this is a DAMMED TOUGH FIELD, and even the most talented can take years to break in to the business. Not getting in doesn't mean you suck. I mean, you still might, but don't automatically assume this is the case. And no matter what happens, take failure gracefully.
    - practice all the time, and bug everyone you can for feedback.

    That's my limited knowledge. Best of luck to all.
  2. speedingpullet

    speedingpullet Girly Gaming Goddess One Of Us

    Hello chaps

    I once again find myself wandering towards the World of Work.
    I feel the need to pick some highly experienced brains, especially on the subject of what format most employers like to see....

    For the CD, normally I create a simple Flash file (*.swf) of the actual works , with a simple 'button' menu linking larger (or moving) files of the work from a main menu.
    Nothing fancy-schmancy, simple point-and-click, no sound files or flashing graphics.
    My resume is is a Word document linked to the main menu, and is already formatted for immediate printing, in simple black and white, using a standard font like Ariel or Times Roman.

    Would you, as employers, find this OK? I've heard that some of you don't like Flash, so are there any other formats that you like?

    Any comments or suggestions gratefully received
  3. Armitage Shanks

    Armitage Shanks Largo al factotum One Of Us

    I'd advise against any kind of front-end for your portfolio.
    JPEGs for images (double-click and hey presto!)
    AVIs with a common compression codec (like Microsoft Video 1 or something) for moving stuff.
    Resume in Word and/or TXT format.
    All neatly categorized in aptly named folders
    If you want to give explanations or comments with certain works, either a TXT file in the same folder or some non-obtrusive but easily readable text in the image itself.

    Though it all sounds cool to have a front-end presentation, even a simple non-flashy one, there will be one or two people that will get annoyed by it.
    Aim your portfolio at the lowest common donominator (the producer with zero technical ability :wink: )

    Just my thoughts though.
  4. speedingpullet

    speedingpullet Girly Gaming Goddess One Of Us

    Many thanks for that, Armitage :D

    I will do as you say, and provide not only a Flash file but a simple folder system with the work in, for the hard of hearing.

    You are right, of course, nothing to do with computers can ever be too simple.
  5. milkcarton

    milkcarton Gaming God One Of Us

    I entirely agree with Armitage.

    Even if any UI is really cool, if it takes me more than 2 sec to bypass it, it will get me annoyed and all the work that comes forth afterwards will unforunately be clouded by that.

    Straightforward is the best. Unless you're trying to be a UI artist, which then still, function vs. form is a good balance to know. ;)

    Personally, if you want to do anythign fancy, do it in a reel at least you're expecting to sit and watch something that's 3 min long, if you have nice transitions and stuff that's fine with me.
  6. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Why? Shouldn't it be good to show that you can draw someone else's characters? There's a good chance that the artist will end up working on an existing license with existing characters.

    I think, for example, that if you apply to Eidos, having a really good painting of Lara Croft can't hurt. Methinks.
  7. Sprunghunt

    Sprunghunt Industry Vetran One Of Us

    Eidos already has artists that can do really good paintings of lara croft. You want to show why they should hire you.

    Also if you make something original it shows your design skills. Studios generally will not always be able to give direction to every one of their artists so there will always be a certain percentage of work which is left to the artist to under their own direction. So we want people who have skills in making art. Not just producing models and textures.

    Plus most game developers are really, really, bored of looking at the properties they've worked on in the past. And you don't want to bore someone who's looking at your portfolio more than you have to.
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Well, they might have someone who can already paint Lara Croft very well, but they could also be looking for someone to replace that guy.

    Obviously a porfolio full of Lara Crofts and Soul Calibur characters will be a very bad idea, but a mixture of known characters and original characters is probably the best (though I wouldn't know enough to recommend a specific balance between the two).

    Also, a painting of Lara Croft could be an original take on the character. It doesn't have to be done by using a lightbox to trace existing Tomb Raider artwork. A good example will be an issue of Spider-Man written and drawn by Peter Bagg.
  9. Unsurprised Jack

    Unsurprised Jack Industry God One Of Us

    Something that would put me off interviewing someone would be a portfolio with paintings made with the smeared blood of their first victim.
  10. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I would be put off, probably, by a portfolio made entirely of drawings of poop.

    ...Drawn with real poop.
  11. Mouseshadow

    Mouseshadow Verbizing weirds language. One Of Us

    On the other hand, if they used the same logic with large breasted valkyrie warrior maidens... the line between wrong and right is often so subtle.
  12. funkyalan

    funkyalan Lurker One Of Us

    Take a look at the artwork in some of the best games for inspiration and try to make something of your own that is at least that standard.

    Also, think about what sort of games the company make and talior your work towards that, if you can.
  13. in_a_nutshell

    in_a_nutshell Industrial Accident One Of Us

    But what if they're smeared in poop?
  14. Unsurprised Jack

    Unsurprised Jack Industry God One Of Us

    The success of the applicant will depend on how German the company is.
    • Thank Thank x 1
  15. DownstrikeVox

    DownstrikeVox Lurker Not From Round Here

    Thanks for all the info so far!

    What about applying to grad school though? Do any of these rules or suggestions change?

    I'm applying to go to grad school right now for an MS in digital imaging and design, and I'm putting my portfolio together right now. I've been sketching out a pretty slick web layout for my work, but is it bad to do that even if it's a very functional site that doesn't take TOO many clicks to get at everything? I figured the website for it could actually be part of the portfolio itself. Also, I'm including a wide variety of work, from 3d models to a partially done PC game to sound design. I'm guessing that in my case showing a wide variety of stuff is a lot more acceptable than if one were applying at a specific company for a specific job, right?
  16. Chris Canfield

    Chris Canfield Lurker Not From Round Here

    Always imply more than you say

    Cut your portfolio down to eight images or one minute of video. Seriously. The person looking at your portfolio wants to believe that you're great, but is looking for any reason to toss your resume aside and pick up the next one. Give them just enough evidence to let them believe what they want to believe, but not so much that they can find fault.

    Always leave them wanting more.
  17. Nof

    Nof Lurker Not From Round Here

    1. Never send pictures/movies based on chrome spheres rolling over a checkerboard. Believe me or not, I got one last month. There was a lot of laughter over it in the office.

    2. Never send renders of completed tutorial scenes. There is always someone who have seen it.

    3. Don't use halo effects

    4. Don't send sketches made on a feint under the desk at school time

    5. Remember the article 1.
  18. !Anaka

    !Anaka Lurker Not From Round Here

    I think you are right guys! :)
  19. SethSpaulding

    SethSpaulding Lurker One Of Us

    Presentation advice

    This is all great info for the aspiring game artist. I would add a couple of things:
    1) On the topic of the Lara paintings: At a minimum make sure you are showing work that is relevant to the games industry. I see many student portfolios chock full of great anatomy studies and still lifes. That's all great and everything but show me that you can take that talent and pour it into something you love...hopefully games.

    2) Treat your web portfolio the same way you would treat your resume, graphically and organizationally speaking. That is, the website is not a place to get artsy-craftsy or show off your "too-cool for text" UI design. Let me know where I'm going and get me there as fast as possible.

    3) I'll say it again because it's still the number one mistake that artists make: Do not show mediocre work. How do you avoid doing this? Embrace the idea that you can't decide what's mediocre when it's your work and get a bunch of tough crits on your portfolio. Based on that info, cut your presentation down. Visit game art outsourcing sites. They usually display a variety of subjects and styles all with decent targets to shoot for when deciding if a particular piece of yours is up to industry-standard.

  20. Silvery

    Silvery Pretty Minded One Of Us

    If I see just one more "dwarf with massive hammer" in a portfolio I *will* be sick.