Friday, June 21, 2013


This is the reply I got after asking for a review of my portfolio, and what it would take to work with (undisclosed game developer).  A cold dose of reality, as he put it, but was very needed. Check it out!
Sure.  Warning, tough love ahead:

It's mostly still the same problems as before.  Nothing is finished to a level that would be useful and your constant use of unfinished work implies some very bad habits.  

There is a narrative to this portfolio that I didn't get from meeting you and that you very much don't want to convey.  The portfolio has a category named "Finished Work" full of unfinished work, with huge signatures on them, daring me to call them out.  It still emphasizes the process of coloring in a loose sketch, as if that is impressive.  Even the animation thesis spends ages on poorly lit wireframes of mostly simplistic and half-thought models before finally taking some reasonable models and animating them in the final seconds.  It's a drawn-out video version of the final image in "Finished Pieces".  It's all first steps presented as finals.

This portfolio, unfortunately, loudly proclaims a lack of follow-through.  The whole presentation claims that we should be impressed with your potential, but at the same time caps that potential and conveys that you haven't, and won't, turn that potential into solid work.  Potential is worthless.  It must constantly be converted into work to ever be anything.  Execute.  Refine.  Polish.  Complete.

Everything comes from that.  If you truly take this to heart then you won't need me to add the following tips, but I'm going to anyway since I just gave you a cold dose of reality.

- Stop signing your work.  When the work speaks for itself it doesn't need your giant signature to tell us you think it's done and great.  When it is done and great it will be done and great.

- Put your name on your website, with your best, most impressive piece front and center.  But first...

- Kill kill kill all sketches or unfinished work.  Do not put an image of a sketch on the left and colored version of that sketch on the right.  Nobody cares that you can color in, or what the sketch looked like before.  Do not put anything in your portfolio that you would not pay someone hard cash for, in exactly the state that it's in.

- Spend all your time working on 5 pieces that you refine and refine and refine until they are good enough to put next to a professional piece of the same kind.  Put onlythose pieces in the portfolio. 

- Compare your work to professionals and copy their format and techniques.  If you want to be a character artist, look at what professional character artists do.  
--  A character concept is not a doodle of an idea.  It is a detailed series of polished drawings of the same refined character, rendered with detail so that it can be discussed by the team and so that accurate models can be built from it.  None of these images are anywhere near that.
--  A game industry character modeler uses a standard polycount for his model, builds it efficiently within that limit,  sets up vertices for animation deformation, and then provides that polycount information in his portfolio.  And unless he's in a big company, he probably has to rig it and possibly texture it himself, so do that too.
--  An animator uses either a really excellent model, or a standard dummy model, and shows quick, tight clips of animation that show off weight and timing and personality.  Do not show a whole project, just the best few seconds.

 If you find yourself giving up or drifting off before 5 are truly done, kick yourself in the ass and get back to work.  Because if you don't want to spend all your free time, day after day, improving your skills and cranking out the absolute best work you can do to stand out, then this is not the job for you.

This is a serious wake-up call.  You need to think about these things and act.  Don't let yourself fall into the same ruts that got you here.