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Wolfebytes

Aspiring Character Artist looking for advice

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I am currently an undergrad several months from graduation. My major is in Game Programming and Development. During the course of my studies, we've had a few modeling classes and I really took to it and feel that is the direction I really want to go, specifically I would love to become a character artist. I keep hearing about your portfolio being super important, but I've really never been able to find out what kind of work is best to put into my portfolio. There's no "put 2 of these and 1 of those in," kind of tips. I get that I'll want to put some characters I've modeled in there, but I guess what I really want to know is, if I want my portfolio to be noticed and taken seriously for a character artist position, what is the best way to present it? Since most of my courses have dealt more with programming, I need to build everything for my modeling portfolio on the side, outside of class on my own time. I know there are no specific numbers like: put 3 realistic humans, 2 robots, a creature, and a stylistic character in your portfolio. But as a general rule is there some kind basic guideline or tips for what to make to get your portfolio off to a good start?

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Just a few tips.

A character art portfolio shouldn't have environment art or object art in it. You excel in characters, so focus on characters.

Put only your best work in the portfolio. The first 5 images must jump off the screen and put their hands around the viewer's neck and shake, while screaming "dude/girl, you gotta hire this artist!" The rest of the images need to be great, not half-assed.

Don't put any pencil sketches in it unless they're stand-alone frameable masterpieces; "show your work" is just for math tests.

Your portfolio will be online. Make it dead easy for viewers to find, and to figure out what you're best at, and how to hire you.

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Put yourself in the shoes of the art director of one of your favorite games, and try to figure out what they would do if they were looking to hire new talent to work on the sequel.
Go on ArtStation and find some character art that what would be a good fit, and analyze what they are doing. Look at all their work, judge what works and what doesn't, see if they have additional links, what sort of contact information they leave, etc.

Having an online portfolio is important, even if it's just one on ArtStation (which you should definitely have) but it's going to be hard to get critique, so look for opportunities where you can get real feedback. The Global Game Jam could be a good place to start, maybe there's a local drawing meetup, or a developer conference around your neck of the woods - Have a portfolio with you in these instances, you don't want to tell people to check your online presence.

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That's really good advice. Do you find it's better to focus on how well you can create a model vs how you create it? There are so many different programs out there, and no job listing ever has the same set listed. Is there a core group of programs that are a must and the rest you pick up as you can/need, or is it better to just choose what you like working with best and focus on that? Does it matter in your portfolio what you used to create the characters?

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Having a solid knowledge of anatomy, composition, fashion design, color theory and other foundations of art is going to serve you much better than any specific know how in any program.

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