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February 23rd, 2012 #1
Full time illustrator, looking to make a switch to concept art
Hey all. I've been a freelance illustrator working in collectible card games, and other games for a few years.
You can see my portfolio here: http://www.joewilson-illustration.com/
I've worked with Sony and Blizzard on card game art, in addition to other smaller publishers, and I've been full time with freelance for a few years, so I feel like I have some experience under my belt.
I've been thinking seriously for some time that I'd like to make a switch to concept art, and possibly find a full time position (or even freelance in this other direction). I was hoping I could get a few people working in the field willing to give me some guidance on tailoring my portfolio for this kind of work. I've thrown together a quick blog (not formatted or ready for AD eyes) to show the work I have on hand, and I'm working up more samples that I think are more specific to a concept artist position.
I'd love some extra feedback from pros in the field. Stuff like "more of X", "throw out Y", "do a few pages of Z". Maybe some links to "perfect" concept art portfolios. I'm open to any and all advice. Thanks!
February 24th, 2012 #2
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February 25th, 2012 #4
February 25th, 2012 #5
Hey Joe - good stuff. You have a solid sense of form and color and your ideas come across clearly. As an AD I would want to see more process work/exploration of particular concepts/subjects. Keep in mind that concept work is about exploring a broad range of ideas more than finished work. If I see you can do decent finished work on one or two pieces I don't need to see it on any others.
As far as specifics...
Environments are a bit weak - I would leave those out. Unless you really want to be doing environments, in which case they need more work.
More full figure work as opposed to a lot of busts.
Along with that maybe more costume examples/variations.
Basically it feels like one idea=one illustration. Try to think of it more like one idea=10variations. Hope that helps - good luck!
February 25th, 2012 #6
Thanks JeffX99. You are spot on, as most of this is pulled directly from my illustration work to see what I had on hand to start a concept art portfolio. Unfortunately I haven't always saved much of my exploration stage stuff until recently (or it looks dated to me compared to my current skill level), so iteration work is where I'm focusing next.
I'll probably pull the environment stuff out before I start seeking work with it. I'll focus on characters/creatures and weapons/armor first. Thanks for the help.
February 25th, 2012 #7
Glad to help man. The obvious solution is to set yourself up a couple of "briefs" to work from. Might make one somewhat comprehensive, like 5 races, their weapons, mounts, symbols. Another maybe more in depth exploration of a single character/creature with upgrades. Basically you want to think of the kind of work that you would be doing day to day and shoot for showing that ability. I've been assuming video game design for some reason...slightly different exploration for film or animation or toys.
Edit: (should have been in first reply) You did a good job with the color variants on the fish-man thing. That showed you know how to explore color variations. An AD is going to want to that, but one example should be enough. They're more interested in seeing a bunch of interesting directions you took that character before deciding on that one.
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February 28th, 2012 #8
February 28th, 2012 #9Registered User
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This stuff looks solid...nice clean renderings. Two thoughts (and, FYI, I'm not a concept artist, so take it as you will):
1. Stylistically, everything here feels very WoW/WoTC....you might want to consider doing at least some stuff that tries to escape from the existing hidebound genres (D&D, Starcraft, Disney, Japanese cuteness, etc.), if only to demonstrate to potential clients that you can think independently.
2. The anatomy and proportions on the characters here feel, overall, serviceable-but-not-really-great. It might be worth it for you to make a push toward a more analytical approach to the human figure---work from photos, take some life-drawing classes--to help your work stand out from the pack.
As always, just my two cents.
February 29th, 2012 #10
As you can tell i like your work and your knowledge J but what Giacomo is saying is true. You keep doing nice and polished works but you've never pushed yourself into this stuff. It's like you're setting a photographer studio to shot at your subjects. Years ago a professional painter said me this: Doing art is like doing love, when i was young i hate to get dirt with colors, mess up the canvas and do something i cannot totally control. When i've realized that this was the fun thing about art i've enjoyed much more doing love.
This thing opened one of my 145 eyes at that time, hope you can understand what i'm talking about
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February 29th, 2012 #11
Thanks Giacomo and Hitsu//San
My work feels very WoW and WotC probably because that's the exact field I work in (I'm actually working on more WoW cards right now). My illustration portfolio was built for that kind of work, and this concept portfolio is partly built from existing work.
I want this concept portfolio to meet the needs of a potential client, but it still needs to remain somewhat visually consistent with the rest of my work. That isn't to say I'm not open to evolving (and certainly to learning- I hope to always be learning), only that I don't think it's a good idea for me to have a radical departure in look, simply to have one.
Still, even with that said, I know I've already established that I can do a somewhat "polished" look, so I was thinking that my next images should definitely show the looser, faster style I work in also.
Thanks for both the interest and help guys
March 22nd, 2012 #12
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March 23rd, 2012 #13
Im not sure if you saw the latest feng zhu video.
Feng explains the difference in illustration and concept art. And one thing I can spot in your work is the lack of perspective drawings.
Feng explains that illustrators do more figures, protraits, landscapes, (soft stuff) and concept artists do environments, vehicles, (more angular, hard metal stuff)
I suppose you need more angular metallic stuff in your portfolio. Cars, tanks, futuristic buildings etc..
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May 26th, 2012 #14
May 27th, 2012 #15
June 4th, 2012 #16
Depends on what you want to do. There is plenty of concept art that is environment and fantasy, not industrial design. Its good to be a generalist though and not pigeon hole yourself out of the gate.
I think you have the right idea, play to your strengths and expand slowly into other areas.
Last edited by dpaint; June 5th, 2012 at 10:29 AM.
April 23rd, 2012 #17
April 23rd, 2012 #18
Tad, I love freelance, but it's a tough life at times. I thought when I started landing bigger and better paying clients it would get easier, but I still end up waiting long periods for checks sometimes. Also, the money can be good at times, and at others it can seem rather poor. To make ends meet I still need to take jobs on both ends of the spectrum. Then there's things like health insurance, and when I went looking for a new apartment discovering that "freelancer" may as well mean "unemployed" to many people.
I'd like to try getting a concept art position somewhere, or at least add in the possibility of getting that type of work freelance, just to have more options. Ideally I'd love to keep freelancing, as the freedom is awesome, and I love a lot about it, but it has to be weighed against other factors. And rates keeping falling in the industry rather than increasing with the cost of living, so it gets harder and harder to justify.
April 23rd, 2012 #19
Immortal Cintiq, thanks for the link
Yeah I don't have a lot of that hard/metal stuff in my book yet. I figure I'll start by covering the things I'm good at and have lots of experience with, and move into that other stuff when I feel like my main strengths are well represented. Currently I'm thinking monsters and characters (although I know those are the most competitive areas of concept art), move into weapon and armor design, then start tackling other stuff.
June 5th, 2012 #20
It's not easy to know where you have your clients. Some prefer more polished stuff, which means less time for exploration. Others like when you give them roughs which they can respond to. If you've worked with a client for some time, they know your capabilities and might eventually accept rougher stuff for the initials.
If you start out with polished stuff, and your client wants to change a lot, you're gonna have a bad time.
But if you want to promote yourself, polished stuff is more effective.
As for having an impact... you need to think about what your niche is and what the quality of your stuff is compared to the competition's.
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June 12th, 2012 #21
Your sense of color and when to use it is inspiring