7 tips on how to make a professional portfolio
In Cassagi, we are always happy to welcome new graphic designers who want to get involved in exciting projects. We work on our games as well as on projects for foreign clients. The demands are high, so when we are choosing a job seeker, we focus on a quality portfolio, which must be attractive. Do you know how to make the right impression or what mistakes you should avoid? In this article, we will offer you some tips and advice on how to create a professional graphic portfolio that is guaranteed to present you attractively and that it will dramatically increase the chances to get the job of your dreams.
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What is a graphic portfolio and why is it needed?
There are many talented artists out there, so make sure you visit sites like Artstation, and you will immediately get an idea of how intense the competition is. If you are looking for a job in the gaming/entertainment industry, talent alone is often not enough. It is necessary to excel, show yourself in the best possible light and excite a potential employer. It is easier said than done, but you have a unique tool at your disposal – your graphic portfolio. If you invest some time and effort into it, you can get a powerful presentation of your work. Remember that portfolio is a tool that briefly yet clearly presents your professional and personal qualities.
Start by choosing a suitable form.
The first impression is essential. The job application email should always include a functional link to the portfolio. If you do not have your website, we recommend using world-famous platforms such as Artstation, CGSociety or Behance for your presentation. It often happened to us that the link led to a few images uploaded to Google Drive or Uloz.to, which certainly does not look professional. On the contrary, it leaves a wrong impression and arouses distrust. Try avoiding that in future.
Cassagi tip: Even an original portfolio compiled in PDF format will fulfil this task. This way, you can add exciting facts from the creation process of the individual projects. Try to create the most straightforward possible access to the PDF; it is best to send it as an email attachment.
What should a professional graphic portfolio include?
A good graphic portfolio will give the other side a quick overview of your work, but it must be easy to find one’s way around it. Avoid complicated navigation. The more clicks your future employer has to do on the way to the pictures, the greater the chance that you will discourage them even before they get to the best part. The portfolio should have a logical structure and a straightforward graphic design. At first glance, it must be clear what kind of work you do and on what level your skills are.
When it comes to the amount of work, it is better to rely on quality than on quantity. Do not put everything you have ever created in your portfolio; on the contrary, choose only the best pieces. We recommend including 3-4 projects, for a maximum of 15 images. None of the selected works should be visibly weaker in quality than the others, and together they should represent your best creative and technical skills.
Take your time when selecting your projects as you can point out what you enjoy most with a careful selection. For example, if as a vehicle artist, you like to focus on military equipment or as a character artist, you prefer to model faces, show it. It will increase the chances that you will also enjoy the work you get based on your portfolio.
Cassagi tip: Do not be tempted by the idea to showcase your versatility with a larger number of works with different focus or type of creation. The wide range often contains more average work rather than real gems, and it also seems chaotic.
Seven steps for a professional portfolio
1. Be consistent
Keep your selection in a similar style and quality. The presented images should work together, uniformly and harmoniously. Organize projects into logical units, making it easier to read your portfolio. Well, not only that! By choosing consistent work, you can show your style. It is excellent if your original artistic expression is recognizable in the whole work and if people can eventually recognize you as the author of the work without seeing your name under the picture.
2. Adapt the portfolio to your dream job
Do you want to work for a specific game studio? One of the best ways to attract a potential employer is to adapt your portfolio to its visual style. Show the people from your dream studio that they are looking for you and that you can create in their style and quality, but at the same time you bring something new and refreshing. Make sure your portfolio reflects the focus of the job you are interested in, such as an environment artist or level designer.
3. Pull up the references
Do not be afraid to include reference images in your graphic portfolio. Even the most experienced artists use them, especially in projects with a realistic art direction. Working with reference allows you to create more detailed and realistic works and control this ability (that is, not to copy real models, but to analyze scales, proportions or texture behaviour properly) is often a highly valued ability in the gaming industry.
4. Give your model enough attention
Do not let your well-created works look dull and uninteresting in the final presentation. Play with the light, look for a “sexy” angle, add a pedestal to the 3D model or characters, or attract attention to elaborate details. There are no limits to creativity, so take advantage of it.
5. WIP yes, but in moderation
We are interested in behind-the-scenes images of work-in-progress, but avoid using them exclusively. WIP images allow your future employer to see how you think and what your workflow is, but many unfinished projects in your graphic portfolio can give the impression that you do not have enough time or skills to complete them. Re-evaluate ongoing projects and try to finish them. It will provide you with a better basis for your new portfolio.
6. Do not forget the technical information
Like WIP, technical details on individual projects are also welcome in the portfolio. Dedicate a small part of the portfolio to the presentation of technical data such as object topology or unwrap. For example, as a PBR texture artist, you can show the differences between diffuse, spec, and gloss channels. Details such as a polycount 3D model, data on LODs or a mention of the programs used (3ds Max, Maya, Photoshop and others) increase the professionalism of the graphic portfolio. Keep this in mind.
7. Keep improving
A work of art is seldom so good that it could not be better. There is always something to improve; one can always push creativity further to the limit of their limits. Pay attention to details, and try new things. The gaming industry is continuously evolving, and it is essential to keep up with the latest trends. At the same time, do not forget to keep your portfolio up-to-date with a selection of the best you currently offer.
It is the surest way to become a successful and sought-after artist.