Snarking on game art portfolios 

I've not seen a clearer demonstration of the Dunning-Kruger effect than in game art portfolio threads.

Threads titled some variant of "Newbie looking for experience": gorgeous work, portfolio includes both beauty shots and break-downs/individual assets.

Threads with titles like "Experienced artist looking to make your game awesome": Only beauty shots and concept art, mostly looking bland, if you're lucky. "Reviews" and links to 50 external sites if you're not.

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Obligatory disclaimer: obviously I'm exaggerating here xP

But, I definitely feel like the mediocre and outright bad portfolios tend to have the most confident titles and intros. It always makes me happy to see a portfolio with good art also have text to match, so I guess really what I want is good artists to be more confident in themselves :D

If an employer's going to pass on you, let it be because your art isn't what they need, not because your thread title made them not click at all.

@eishiya I think I have the complete opposite approach, in that I get baffled when employers and my lead say I'm higher rank than I thought I was. It seems it's something common in the industry that once you know how gosh darn competitive and skilled the actual professionals are, who have stable jobs, you feel everything you've done pale in comparison. There are people out there with 20, 40 years in the industry, they have the right to say 'experienced'. I'll always be junior until I'm senile 😂

@eishiya I'm curious at what point should professionals say they are 'experienced'? The only thing I count on atm are the years. I feel that, even if your portfolio is great, a lot of companies still consider your years experience.

@thiriumheart "Experience" isn't a monolithic thing, so my answer varies with the context.

The experience a small indie is looking for is mainly that your deliverables are in an actually usable format and won't lag the game. In the absence of shipped games, a portfolio can show these things.

A larger developer will also want to see experience working in similar environments and with similar tools, so that you can get to work smoothly. A portfolio doesn't show this kind of experience.

@thiriumheart To actually answer your question, which I realised I haven't: I guess it just comes down to "have you shipped at least 1-2 projects of the scale you're seeking work in, in the job you're seeking to do?"

So, having shipped couple of small 2D games as an artist would mean you're experienced if you're trying to get hired for more of those, but not if you're trying to get hired as a programmer, or trying to get hired for 3D, or trying to get work with a larger developer.

Snarking on game art portfolios 

@eishiya hello, newbie here, what do "beauty shot" and "break-downs/individual assets" mean ? Thx!

@Famine Beauty shots are renders and screenshots that display the asset (such as a sprite, 3D model, or level) in a flattering way, typically with pretty lighting and some context. These are important to have, but don't really show your specific skills as well.

Break-downs show the important component parts, such as the untextured model, the texture and normal map sheets, and often a shot of the unlit model to show what's included in the model and what's added by lighting.


@Famine In 2D, breakdowns are sometimes included for environment shots, showing the various art layers and effects that come together to form the final look. These sometimes consist of separate screenshots, but are more often gifts showing the layers being added and effects being applied from back to front.

Individual assets are images of the component assets, such as sprites and models, without context. Prop models, NPC sprites, etc. Like break-downs, these help to gauge your specific skills.

@Famine By "specific skills", I mean e.g. your attention to topography (to make sure your models can be animated without problems, and aren't needlessly high-poly), how well you use the space in your texture sheets, whether your individual assets have details that are to scale with each other, whether your colour choices are good or if it's just the lighting making them look good, that sort of thing.

Beauty shots show that you CAN do the work, the other stuff shows HOW you do the work.

@eishiya Thank you a lot for all of these informations, it's really interesting. I wasn't aware of any of this but it make sense now.
The only approach of a portofolio I had was from tattoo artists, where I've only seen final drawings or finished tat pieces.
Now I'm definitely thinking about adding drawing texture sheets in my *very very far away future* portofolio and some others things.
Again, thx you a lot for your time ; it's concive and instructive ! :)

@Famine Game art portfolios vary with the type of work you want to do, and are often fairly specialised. The general idea is that you want employers to clearly see you use the skills you want to be hired for, but not all those skills can be communicated nicely in beauty shots, hence the extra stuff. It also helps to show that you understand the game development process and asset delivery (especially if you don't have much of a resume yet!), which is why things like texture sheets are useful.

@Famine Bah, I meant GIFs, not gifts, silly hands. Too late to delete and redraft, I already replied to it.

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