Creating a Game Artist portfolio – do’s and don’ts!
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How does an artist get “their foot in the door”? Most video game artists and animators need a combination of approaches to make a good portfolio and get employer’s eyes on it.
How to make a good game artist portfolio?
As an artist, it’s not all about a good resume and cover letter when searching for a new gig. An outstanding portfolio for game development can be the key to get your desired job in the game industry. But what does an outstanding art showcase or demo reel look like? We put together several significant aspects you need to know for building great ones.
Content – the quality of your stuff
Your video game art portfolio should contain the best and most relevant of your works. It is your time to shine and impress recruiters and hiring managers with the fantastic work you have done.
It’s better to show less but offer a top-notch quality than to mix the best of your art with some not-as-good pieces.
As for your demo reel, start with a simple title card, including your name and contact information.Move immediately to your best shot and then follow up with your other acting or body mechanics shots. Try always to include a short description. Mention what type of animation you’ve done and for what project (ex. “Keyframe Character Animation for Ruiner Game”).
To avoid having too much text over your shots, you can number the shots on the reel and write about each one in the video’s description.
Tailor your portfolio for the game job you are applying for
Your portfolio should include relevant work for the position you are trying to obtain. If you’re applying for a concept artist job, you might want to skip your still-life paintings.
Read the job description carefully and showcase the most important works relevant to that role in your portfolio.
Music and sound – demo reel
Having background music and cool editing is nice to have but not essential. Always focus on the animation being great first. Include the original sound for dialogue pieces and if you are not sure what background music to choose, just turn off the music completely.
Length of the Demo Reel
Usually, recruiters spend between 30 seconds and 1 minute reviewing your reel, which means you have 30 seconds to make an impression! The optimal length of your reel should not be over 2 minutes. Ideally, it would be under a minute, showcasing the most relevant of your works.
2D and 3D artists are making a personal website and showcase for their work and have online portfolios on portals for artists like ArtStation.com or Behance.net.
YouTube has much more viewers, which means your reel will have more exposure; however, it’s considered a less professional platform for presenting your work. While YouTube has evolved into a much more creative-oriented platform, Vimeo was made for creators to publish their creative work.
Vimeo has fewer viewers, but it’s got one great feature – you can replace the video under the same URL, which means that when you update the reel, you can replace the video, and the link to your reel will always have the latest version.
Regardless of the platform you choose to upload your portfolio or demo reel to, make sure the link works! When you give a studio a URL to look at, make sure all the links on the page work. If it’s password-protected, make sure you give them the correct password. Since LinkedIn is the most popular platform for job searching, we encourage you also to add a link on your LinkedIn page.
Last but not least, constantly update your portfolio! Make sure to update it with each great work you’ve done. Even if you are not actively seeking a job, keep your demo reel up to date. Headhunters are always looking for great talent, and you never know when a fantastic opportunity might show up.
Other platforms and ways to showcase your work and make companies notice you
As we mentioned, portfolio is not your only way to get across your eligibility for employment as a video game animator.
There are a couple of angles that all artists within the industry can take to get noticed – social media being the obvious one. Often frowned upon because maintaining a social media presence is a job within itself. Being active in presenting your work as an artist seems to be a critical part of the puzzle. According to many recruiters, this is how some of the video game artists are spotted.
Social media notwithstanding, physically going out and meeting your potential employers at job fairs is also very effective. These fairs are beneficial for networking and meeting other 3d and 2d video game animators – colleagues or rivals.
We’ve mentioned the importance of the game artist portfolio – but what happens if you are a junior without a substantive amount of experience to “fill up” your portfolio?
You can “fluff up” your game art portfolio with work that never got published or, better yet, work you’ve done privately and at game jams. Game jams are one of the most valuable methods of “simulating” experience – they are both a way for you to train as a video game artist and gain material for your portfolio.
Be it a personal project, a commissioned assignment, or indeed just a game jam – all of this can be neatly packaged within your portfolio.
Whatever avenue you choose – don’t be discouraged by competition. Keep your options diverse and put in the work. A job in video game art is well within your reach.
Interested in how to become a video game artist? Check out our blog post about it!