Here’s an edited excerpt of an email I wrote for someone asking me for tips on putting together an environment artist portfolio.
Focusing on environments but keeping your skillset broad is a good idea. Environment artists will always be needed, more so now that next gen games are getting crazy huge and complex. While this will generate a lot more competition for you, it also creates more opportunities to get hired.
I haven’t dealt much yet with environment artists, but I think the same basic rules apply to them as to any other artist… show all your work. By that I mean, show wireframes of the model, the high poly object, and the flat textures (spec, bump, diff, glow). When you do this, I don’t have to wonder if you understand how to paint a good texture or make a good normal map, because you show me every step of the process.
Another tip is to show your work in an actual ingame environment when you can. Drop your assets into Half-Life 2 and make them look like they belong there, and actually function.
Your goal is to make stuff that’s competent and game-ready. It’s a very powerful statement if you can put things into games on your own and make them work. It’s one less step of abstraction for hiring managers to make… by that I mean, I don’t have to look at a render, and imagine what it’d look like in a game, because you already PUT it into a game.
Show me what you CAN do, and minimize how much I have to IMAGINE you being able to do.
Don’t just put little single assets into the game, if you can help it. Make areas. Rooms. Set pieces. Show you know not only how to make individual objects but put them together into a scene, and make them look good. The simpler and clearer you can illustrate all these, the better your chances of getting hired. 🙂
That’s a pretty tall order and not a lot of people do these things, but that ought to help.
I’d love to hear more tips and suggestions if you guys have any. 🙂 Am I missing anything?