Eliott Lilly discusses how to make your concept art portfolio more appealing to prospective employers in the industry.

Q My name is Josh Matamoros. I am an amateur concept artist with the goal of entering the video game industry in the future. I humbly come to ask for feedback to improve my portfolio: https://www.artstation.com/artist/joshmatts
What would my portfolio need to be considered for the industry?


A Hey Josh, your work looks great – it has lots of character, style and personality and you clearly have drawing chops! I have some comments that might help:

Your portfolio: Right now, you have far more sketches and illustrations in your portfolio than you do concept art -I counted one, maybe two pieces of art that explore a singular idea aka: concept art. So, my first piece of advice is: If you want to be a concept artist, than you need to showcase concept art! On Artstation, I would create several project folders and keep the sketches, concepts and illustrations separate. This will give any client who is viewing your work, a better understanding on what they can expect from you.(It will also cut down on the number of images that they are presented with at once – its overwhelming). It will also help you discuss terminology with them. For example, if they ask you: “What does a sketch look like, and how does it differ from your concepts?”, then you can point them to the respective folders and say: “Here’s what my sketches look like, and here’s how I work when designing concepts…”.

Your art: The “Gunsligner” is a good example of a concept art piece, where you start diving into variations and iteration on a singular idea. I would encourage you to go further, beyond just changing the face, but consider alternate chest and leg pieces, without a cape. etc. Really try to create different silhouette changes with each revision. Feng Zhu talks about the importance of this in one of his tutorials: https://youtu.be/4yKxY0KKrak?t=1m53s The goal being to really dive deep into who the character is. (She has a robotic face… why? what else is robotic.. why? what happened to her?… Can you show me that in your image? etc.).

The gunslinger also represents a very polished level of execution. The refined fabrics, materials and textures provide vital information to other artists who will have to model your designs down the production line. Employers look for artists who can convey such details, since it is crucial to establishing good characters. If you want to be an attractive candidate, you may need to do more images that showcase such variety and polish. (that’s not to say that every image needs to be up to this level of refinement, but showing that you can deliver this quality consistently doesn’t hurt).

So, to conclude, if you want to be an attractive candidate for a video game studio, you would need to do the following:

1. Clearly, you are a character artist – focus your portfolio on that.
2. Show examples of iteration on a singular idea (different style and design changes of the same figure). Do this for at least 5 different characters.
3. Display a high level of technical ability and polish (material changes, advanced lighting, dynamic poses, etc.).
4. Remove old, outdated images that don’t currently reflect your skill set (toss anything that is older than two years – especially if you have better stuff currently).

Bets of Luck
– Eliott


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