I thought I'd just post up a quick thread about portfolios. Every year, I do a recruiting trip with LucasArts and I always get asked the same questions: "what should I put in my portfolio?"
Here're some suggestions.
Research the company
The first thing is to research the company you are applying for. Do they do dungeons and dragons games or sci-fi games? If they do D&D stuff, then you should probably include some fantasy concepts. Do they work with more of a realistic style or cartoony? If it's an animation house, they might have specific requirements for portfolios and demo reels.
Tailor your portfolio to the company
I remember this one portfolio I got with a series of nude elf girls drawn in manga style...needless to say, he did not get an interview. I also get very competent 'fine art' portfolios focusing on figure work and landscapes, but have little or no computer experience or have actual concept work. It's a shame to turn some of them away, but our company just doesn't want invest in training them to do the concept or computer work required for them...even if they had the necessary skill base.
Pay Attention to detail and costume. Pose is nice, but remebmer that design is most important. Be original. Do not use existing designs from ANYWHERE. Chances are...employers will recognise it. On a design you are particularly proud of, show the design from start to finish. Sketches, finals, colors, close ups, references, details, equipment, etc...
Same thing as above. This can also include aliens, monsters, etc. Be original. Pay special attention to texture and anatomy. It might be helpful to draw a full aciton pose as well as an orthos of front, side, back of the monster.
A few pages should be fine. Pay special attention that it's readable and not overly detailed. They should be quick and demonstrate good pacing.
This includes anything from vehicles to engines, to guns, to steam engines, to robots, etc. Show good design as well as good rendering. Some portions might require close ups. Demonstrate that you understand how machines function. Color is not as critical, but still nice.
Have a good mix of interior and exterior environments. Show value, mood, space, and composition. Perhaps you can explore a specific idea...from a space station to a castle. It's helpful to demonstrate that you are good with organic and inorganic elements.
*Work from life
Show a few of your BEST work from life. Landscape paintings and/or figure work. This gives recruiters a good idea of where you are in terms of skill and control. Gestures are good too to show that you can draw fast, but a few pages should do. Gestures are more important for animator portfolio than concept art portfolios.
Optional, but if you have other pieces you are very proud of that do not fall in to other catagories. Selfportraits, finished illustrations, published works, etc.
For film, the effects house often hires at least one concept artist for each catagory listed above. For games, we often don't have the luxury to hire so many individuals, so having a variety of work is specially important. That said, the single most important thing to remember is to INCLUDE ONLY YOUR BEST WORK
. A single bad piece can ruin how an employer looks at your work. For example, if you are strong in several of the catagories above, but not so good in machinery...then leave them out! They will bring more harm than good!
A final note on portfolios, you don't have to submit anything too fancy. Just a simple book of transparant slips is fine. Most portfolios are a book with around 20-40 pieces of work. Make sure they are nice clean, colored reproductions. And of course, always include your Resume and cover letter.
Best of luck,