View Full Version : Help me decide on my portfolio subject

08 August 2006, 12:52 PM
I'm about to get into making my portfolio and will spend 2-3 months working on it. It is supposed to be at a current to next generation level of detail, it will be done in a directx 9 engine with a few sm3.0 shaders. Now...

I recently started work on a structure but decided I can't make it dramatic enough, and my interior and exterior concepts didn't fit in which raised a whole lot of other questions. I will do an environment but also I will have an animated character in third person walking around. I'd personally enjoy making some sort of present-day, realistic and slightly older building, like something in rural USA with a typical "movie" atmosphere where I'd probably animate a cut scene with perhaps more than 1 character. But, my fear is that by modelling a bunch of shelves, shop windows, counters, back rooms, roofs, water canisters, rail roads and such (similar to the HL2, or Indigo Prhopecy feel) that I won't show off how I can do a more of an unrealistic, organic or fantasy setting. I have a feeling that being a freelance artist it might be better to show off some medival-ish structure with dramatic lighting, cobblestone, and typical stuff like that because such art may be in more demand than realistic environments, and will signal more that I can do fancy, glossy, futuristic art. I can do both fairly well, but I only have so much time. What i'm asking is:

-Do you think doing any kind of environment really well will give me credibility that I'll be able to do any OTHER kind of environment just as well?
-Should I build a portfolio according to what I like modeling or according to what I think is in demand?
-Does a good portfolio increase chances significantly in finding freelance work in the first place?
-Should I perhaps do 3 small environments, including a realistic one, a medival one and a futuristic one?

Any advice will be appreciated! :)

PS I posted this here because thats where there are most people dealing with game art, however if the location is very wrong, I'm sorry & do move the thread.

08 August 2006, 02:00 PM
a portfolio isnt just one piece of work, you will want about 4-5 finished environments (that is you seem to be an environment artist)

do this:
- One gritty realistic HL2 type env.
- One semi-realistic fantasy setting
- One alien spaceship tech interior with shiny surfaces
- One cartoony env.

08 August 2006, 02:29 PM
For an environment artist you want to have a lot of variety. If you show variety in your works even though you do not have the specific style ad company is looking for a company will see your open to other ideas. What I see a lot on some sites is one style like GLandolina says. Really try to have some diversity with a clear presentation.

At the end all your works have to connect quality wise and style wise in something. If you make a urban environment… You have a style which is unique to your self. Use it and do not be afraid to show your own vision in some cases. For example if you make a New York block. Make it with color setting that is diff from other games. Perhaps go with almost sepia color. If your making a fantasy try to make some diff styles. Even blending styles together. Reference designs from real life. At the end what will get your hired is your own artistic vision. Sure you can have few technical works that are great looking but lack artistic vision.

But the most important thing imo is having an environment artist who has put assets into at least one well known engine or more. Like the Unreal, Quake4, Hl2, or Olblivion. A the other note is that these levels are actually playable also for multiplayer or single player mission. At least one level has to be put in one of these engines imo. Because it is very different of how models and textures look rendered than inside an engine.

08 August 2006, 02:51 PM
i think it depends. if your goal is to get hired as an in-house artist, the style of your portfolio should preferably be targeted to the particular studio you're applying to. but if you plan to work as a freelance artist you would probably have to show off a lot more diversety in style.

in the end though, i would personally go for something more homogenic as you probably already know what you like to do and what you're good at. these are the kind of jobs you'll want to get anyway, and if you just show enough technical knowledge as well as artistic skill, i would say that style is secondary.

good luck!

08 August 2006, 08:38 PM
Thanks for your input! Now i find it actually very logical to have a few different environments to show off, so I'll probably do this like glandolina and RO suggested...

Another thing is I have more experience in characters than environments, tho I did most of them for directx 7 and only one character with normal maps for current gen (which was just a learning experience). Do you think being both an environment artist and a character artist is a good idea? I'm learning animation a lot lately and I'm getting better at not just modelling and rigging but also animating different sequences for characters. Is it wise for me to diversify in this way?

08 August 2006, 09:04 PM
Briancell84 that is a tough question should you diversify or professionalize… Honestly this is one I think many artist go through. I would say do what you love and do it well. If you like Character modeling, do those. In a studio like situation you are not likely to be put in as an environment artist since you’re a character artist already. But that is not to say you can not practice doing props on the side.

Tough question though since atm I am getting in to character models and really learning the ins and outs of making good characters in highpoly and lowpoly. Since I am an environment artist I wanted to have a good knowledge of how to model character models.

You can diversify a bit I think that is always good. If you love character modeling go with that. I am learning that making character models are cool but I just do not feel the same drive I feel when making a whole environment. I imagine it is vise versa for charecter modelers.

One way to unite your portfolio even more is making an environment and a character that represents that environment.

Hmm that top one is a good idea I think ill start doing that lol :)

08 August 2006, 12:53 AM
Well I am in a very specific situation in that regard. My plan is to work only as a freelance artist for a year or two, strictly online, only perhaps moving around Europe for very large comissions not taking more than 2 months. Then I plan on working on an independant game project by myself and perhaps a few others. I know programming and can use one directx 9 engine (Truevision 3D 6.5) very well.

Is this a reasonably good plan? Is working online for 2 years not going to be that profitable and maybe not worth working on a portfolio for 2+ months? Would be nice if someone who's had such freelance experience would reply.

08 August 2006, 11:04 AM
a good portfolio is going to take alot longer than 2 months, most take about 6-12 to finish entirely without rushing.

what you could do is spend 2 months on it then go into work and use whatever you make at work as portfolio pieces, this is also good because most major studios require "2 years industry expirience" as a minimum requirement.

you seem to be all over the shop with what you want to do, your first post made you come across as an environment artist but then you said you preferred characters and now you've mentioned programming - pick one and get great at it, most artists do not switch between environment and character however they do get side jobs for example an environment artist can do props to and a character artist often will do some weapons, depends on how big the studio is.

08 August 2006, 01:29 PM
Indigo Prhopecy aka. Fahrenheit has one of the best feels I think, I own this game and I'm most proud of its box art.. just look at this beauty:

08 August 2006, 01:36 PM
In terms of a good portfolio variety is always good. As for your second question, specialize!.....The way the industry currently stands its definitely good to specialize in a set area and be the best at it. And if I where to suggest an area it would be environments, theres allot of decent character artists out there, not so much environmental.

08 August 2006, 01:50 PM
Thanks for your replies, everyone.

@GLandolina, your suggestion is an option too. I have some time before I finish uni so I may as well end up building up a portfolio for a year and perhaps selling some of the assets on Turbosquid and the like. I'm not aiming for a top studio straight away, more like smaller projects where experience is often not that primary, unlike the cost of my work which would be low.

I can do programming, and there's nothing stopping me from being good at multiple areas, it's just that I'd need a hell of a lot of time to prove how good I am in everything. On that subject I agree, and after doing some thinking, I may focus on being an environment artist.

@ArYeS, yes did you see the house of that old blind lady? That environment, and especially the room with the cages, was really inspiring for me. The first part of my portfolio will be a scene in that style.

@Mastahful, that's an interesting opinion about there being a lack of really good environmental artists. I always thought there were too many of them, and too few knew how to make good characters!?

@All, what does everyone think, is there really a significant (or even a small) lack of good environmental artists?

08 August 2006, 06:11 PM
I do not think there is a lack of good environment artist the thing is... Companies now realize that the need of a lot of environment artists is crucial to making a good game look truly great. 2 years ago level designers and environment artist were one in the same. But now that one position has split into two or even three sometimes.

Environment artists, Level Designer, and lighting designer (less common but will appear soon trust me).

The thing is props are hard and making a whole world filled with stuff is a feat to take. That is why environment artist is the most needed position atm and I imagine for a while. I mean in some cases it is harder than making a movie since in games you have to make the whole world not just one scene look good.

The game industry has many great environment artists but the times we are in make it seem we lack them since right now we are starting to need a small army of environment artists for the needs of the next gen bug called pushing realism. So we do not lack great level artist we just lack impossible numbers of environment artists.

08 August 2006, 06:51 PM
@braincell84 : Oh yes, spooky as hell. (member.php?u=211078)

09 September 2006, 06:35 PM
Ok I've decided. I'll make the 4 environments including interior and exterior where applicable. I'll spend approx a month on each. I will focus on enivornments. I've thought recently about the things you ppl wrote, especially since some of the replies were by the people who seem to be working in studios, and that was very helpful. Specialising might be a good thing.

However, the actual contents of my portfolio, that's a different matter. I noticed recently that the game industry follows closely the trends in Hollywood and filmmaking in general. In terms of scenery design, lighting, and mood in general. Doesn't apply for all genres, but mostly it does. So I suppose there won't be anything wrong with me looking for inspiration in some films, will there? :) I already have ideas...

Well, off I go. Hopefully there will be a WIP thread soon.

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