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Hi there all you fine folks from CA, I'm Joost van Kempen, 24, from Holland. I'm currently wondering if
I should continue this difficult road of getting a steady job at a studio (concept art and/or Illustration) or
get some boring desk job
So basicly my question is: Is my current portfolio good enough to get a job at a game studio?
I'v done some freelancing work for starting studios but in the end it didn't really make money for me.
I'm not looking for tripple A studios or anything, just looking for a decent full time job in this area.
I'd love to hear what you guys think, you can be brutally honest:
For more drawings:
My website: www.joostk.com (Not finished yet)
Last edited by DeJakhalz; May 26th, 2012 at 12:08 PM.
I think you're something like 1 or 2 year away (of freaking hard study) from your objective. Right now it's a big no, the problem is that you're proposing yourself as illustrator (cause there aren't designs in your portfolio, not even environment) and there are lots of illustrators out there that are freaking good. You really need to study anatomy, perspective and surface rendering skills in order to improve. Maybe you want to learn ho to do concept art as well to be useful for some game company.
I think you should work on giving your characters more presence in your pieces. Allot of your coloring choices blends the character into the background. You want your character to pop of the page and stand out.
@Hitsu San: Thanks for your honesty! Maybe making art isn't my calling after all
@Blacksnowman: It's funny cus I'm usually actually afraid of my characters standing out too much from the background (like it is pasted in) so that's why I try to make it blend a bit more. Maybe I'm practising the wrong things.
Anyway Blacksnowman its right, i forgot to mention it, you need to study value separation too!
I'm not entirely sure if i've chosen what is best for me. Right now I hardly got any income because I want to get a creative job, sacrificing a lot of time. Friends around me thinking I kinda live in a dreamworld for thinking I can make money of my art. So it's kinda like, should I continue? Is there enough potential? Or am I actually living in a dreamworld and I should get a regular job like my friends and family.
I'll draw as much as I can and keep this page updated, I hope you guys can follow this page a bit to see if my practise is working out well or not
Well, the job exist and it is very possible to make a living from it. From my experience a smart person can become a good artist, period. It doesn't exist such a thing like potential or talent or whatever, it's all about understanding the rules, knowing how to make your brain work and most difficult task: taking the effort to become good at it.
I know that you need to ear that you're good and you should keep going but trust me, this is completely useless if you don't become good at placing yourself in the stair that brings you from amateur to professional if you know what i mean.
PS: You're more good than i was when i decided to become a professional.
Hey be encouraged, your stuff is really good. I'm not pro but in my opinion, you're on the brink of getting into that top tier. There's a few pieces like the robot suit thing that I think may be there already. Fight for what you love and keep going. You'll get there for sure and soon. I know its tough when you put all your eggs in one basket and hope to make a living from it. There are lots of jobs out there and I'm sure one has your name on it. If I was trying to become a concept artist, I'd try to put myself in a situation where I had to solve a visual problem. If I was a game company hiring a concept artist, I'd probably want to see some work leading up to the final solution, show your process, that sort of thing.
To Hitsu: I agree with you on many points, and Im not here for compliments, I'm just kinda wondering what to do since I probably don't have another 2 more years to fully commit to practise, money wise. Thanks for your comment
To Shiroboi: Thanks! I hope you are right
To ct2ulao: Yeah Hitsu mentioned it too and I agree on that to some degree, but not entirely. It's not some Ikea chairs we are building here It needs some imagination and creativity And I love to train hard on studies. I have very often said no to going out with friends just to do studies. It's all about if I can handle 2 more years financially and the answer is no.. Thanks for your comment
I have to say that I disagree. You have the ability to make it as an artist right now. You just need some better portfolio pieces. Get rid of the last guy because he doesn't look right. If you want some good illustrations fast... go out and take some pictures and use them as references. That's the major problem I see in your work. It looks like you're not using references effectively. Get a camera and take some pictures. Since you take them, you can rely heavily on them to make great work. I just learned recently that Boris, who has been one of the top fantasy illustrators for 30+ years, traces photos. While I don't recommend that, I do think that some good references will go a looong (more o's for emphasis) way to getting you where you want to be. In about 6 months you could have a smashing portfolio.
Another thing to think about… Most illustration fields aren't so quality dependent as the Sci-fi/Fantasy genre. There are literally thousands of illustrators who draw at a grade school level who are making a killing. Don't let the ridiculously high standards of this genre make you think you don't have what it takes.
I'm have some of the same problems about using reference but I'm trying to start using them.
I'm still trying to come to grips with some these ideas myself. I wish you luck.
Hey man...you're not that far off target. I do agree these are primarily illustrations so I think you need to shift your focus to developing work that demonstrates more typical design and concept work processes - thumbnails, ideation flow, turnarounds, etc. You have a good imagination and aren't afraid to take a chance or two so that's good.
I would recommend a three main things -
1 - Develop more concept style work and examples (if interested in concept art of course)
2 - Learn some digital production tools - modeling, texturing...that kind of thing...try to get your foot in the door somewhere as a production artist and work your way into concepting
3 - Work a bit more on basic fundamentals - drawing, light, composition, etc.
You might try enrolling in a school where you might get some loans and be somewhat relieved of having t find work immediately. Worst case scenario is get a decent job and work hard iin your spare time to develop.
Anyway, whatever happens good luck to you!
To Shorinji: Thanks a lot for your feedback. I do think my portfolio isn't really showing my full capabilities tho. I like using reference as in creating textures from it etc. But using reference is mainly to save time, not to improve the piece itself. If it is just to improve the drawing I kinda feel like cheating (if it is a personal piece). Please stay tuned! More to come very soon
To Jeff: Thanks a lot for the comment! I totally agree that I need more real concept art. Please stay tuned because I'm almost done with a real concept art piece you people might like! 1: In progress. 2: Got a degree in 3d animation, experienced in creating next gen material, textures, 3d props, zbrush etc 3: Defenitly! In my new piece I focus more on the basics, I hope you will come back soon to check it out!
Thanks all, update will be soon.
Cheating it's just a quick way to achieve a goal, when speed is a factor that matters in you work then those "cheats" will become "time-saving process" and in the end "way of working".
Obviously you should learn how to arrive from A to Z without skipping anything.
I have my morals and principles tho... I rather die a poor artist than a fake artist ;P But I do look around me and try to absorb and use as much as I can. And I do use usually use some textures but I think I'm a bit too subtle on that. I think I'm kinda holding back in general, affraid to lose control of painting or something..
Stay tuned for round 2! It will be better I promise
I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm behind your all the way in the beginning of this thousand mile journey of ambition in our lives; sometimes you have to go back to the beginners mind to to re-mind yourself of why you're doing this.
Since I'm there, maybe I can be your beginner mind and tell you to keep going and don't let all the sweat blood and tears you've shed go to waste. Look back at your first sketchbook if you still have the physical copy and flip through it so you can examine your beginner's mind and see how far you've come; you won't want to give up because you've come so far and now's not the time to drop and roll down the hill you've climbed.
Keep going, keep rolling, keep focused; you're not going to let yourself slow down! Let's turn this sadness into anger and let's use this anger to push forward!!!
Round 2! Since Hitsu mentioned my portfolio is lacking concept art, I decided to do a concept art piece
I would really want to know what you guys think, and if this would be professional quality on your opinion or not.
Thanks all and I hope you enjoy this one.
Last edited by DeJakhalz; June 1st, 2012 at 01:24 AM. Reason: Pic didnt show
It's there...much too large imo. Need to see all four characters in one view.
So my feedback is these are all essentially the same character, costume, pose, etc. Not even remotely enough variation to show an AD or to review. The lighting and fact that you've chosen to basically show four identical silhouettes is a poor choice for a comparison lineup. Concept art is about concepts, ideas, variations on a theme...a range of unique character communicated instantly...not minor tweaks in the decorations of armor.
Take a look at some of the really good character and concept artists...what are they doing that adds value to a project?
So not quite there yet...not so much in your ability, but mainly in your understanding of what concept art is about. Just do more research...really try to analyze what is going on at the top professional levels of concept art.
How many concept art books do you own? Just curious...
Thanks for your comment.
I own probably around 20 books about digital illustration and concept art. I know what concept art is. And it is weird cus I do not agree that these are just small variations I used the same silhoutte/pose to make 4 different character variations in my opinion.
But thanks for the feedback, I'm curious if the others share your opinion.
Sure, I was just curious. Just to clarify I'm not talking about digital art books or books about "concept art". I'm talking about "making of" kinds of books...books that illustrate the broad range and variety of sketches and designs behind the scenes.
Those character variations are minor is the problem...they don't explore any real variety. They're so dark you can't really see much variation. And I don't mean to be harsh, but if you want some honest feedback you don't know what concept art is about yet. It's about one core thing...and you are missing that right now.
So what is the one core thing or principle behind concept art?
I mainly own books of studiowork. The rest is anatomy books and stuff. How to draw books I find kinda silly most of the time. Loomis and stuff is pretty good tho, I got those too. It's weird that the drawings are very dark on your monitor, on mine I can clearly see all details. All 4 characters got their own theme. Nr1 is an evil leader, Nr2 is a scout (bird theme) Nr3 is your typical devilish character with skeleton structure and nr 4 is the samurai inspired warrior version.
What concept art is about you mean? Making the ideas in your head into a visual concept so people down the pipeline know what to create in 3d etc.
So right now, when I see that lineup come through in a portfolio my reaction as an AD is, "Hmmm...ok at rendering but he isn't exploring a variety of ideas, and the choice of rear 3/4 lighting, casting the figure in shadow is not what I need to see. There is potential there but do I want to train someone? Let me take a look at the other candidates."
Concept artists have to have incredibly resilient egos...you have to be tough...because ADs, project directors, execs, and all kinds of other people are going to alter, shred and suggest changes to your work...that is their job. The bulk of what you design as a concept artist will not be made, and when it is, it will not live up to your expectations.
So just some insight to keep in mind.
On books, most major fantastic films have a "Making of" type book: Star Wars, Star Trek has some excellent ones for the modern series, the Pixar movies, Disney movies, Avatar, Tron, Green Lantern, Harry Potter, etc. Books by Doug Chiang, Iain McCaig, etc. That is the kind of stuff I mean.
Well the answers could may vary from topic to topic but one things remains the same: variation! (That's why 2 designers for a single topic come up with 2 different things)
I agree with Jeffx99 about that design, it's the same thing repeated 4 times, you've only changed details. One important thing is that details are not so important as silhouette cause the first thing you see on a design is the major form and silhouette (thats cause our brain is really good to remember forms and shapes and not so good about catching details). When you submit something like this you're essentially submitting 1 design. The variation in details doesn't make them 4 designs cause major forms and silhouette are the same (and more important, you could try to hide that by changing pose, something you didn't).
You must be aware that those things you're doing they will move eventually, maybe fast, maybe slow but in any kind of media (at the exception of comics or cover book illustration) they'll move, so it becomes very hard to catch subtle details, its' good to have them in there but it's not the main focus.
Anyway i'm looking the piece from 2 perfectly tuned monitors side by side (and one of them it's a cintiq21wsx) and it's too dark, i can see the details but they are not immediately readable (something that they must be cause a concept piece is for showing off everything about a design).
Thanks a lot for the feedback Hitsu,
I agree that it's variations of one sort of character, I put them next to eachother because it is just one piece. But overal I was actually thinking it's actually a pretty decent concept piece
So you don't think its worthy to be put in my portfolio?
I added brightness and contrast to it, maybe this looks better on your monitors? Just testing:
Thanks again guys
Last edited by DeJakhalz; June 1st, 2012 at 06:08 AM.
It reads better overall but it's pretty dark by himself. You should do another 2 or 3 pages of concepts about this guy, maybe in different poses, maybe with different elements or shapes. Don't be sad if this one isn't super good and don't be sad if you wont put this one in the portfolio, of course it's ok if you want to but you should be prepared to make like 3 of them in 1 day so if it's not today you'll find a really good one to put in your portfolio very soon.
Just don't be scared of changing stuff around, enjoy it! It's the fun of being a concept artist, here's a quote of a man that i extremely respect: “If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.” Ken Robinson
You feel like you're cheating if you take your own picture and use it as a reference? I'm not talking about a paintover or texture or anything like that. I mean reference. It doesn't have to be a picture even, you could draw it from life also (which is harder to set up), or would that be cheating too? Most of the great masters used reference, does that mean they cheated?
I'm afraid that you're holding yourself back with your sense of artistic integrity that is above and beyond what any of the greatest artists in history have ever held to. However, I have to say I understand it. Until recently I've held myself to the same standards thinking that I had to work from imagination. It wasn't until I realized just how unappreciate my efforts were, that I realized I had to make a change. Most of the stuff in my portfolio right now is from imagination, but I'm trying to use references now to move beyond my limited ability to remember everything.
Just think about for awhile. Read the history of any artist you admire. See what the process is that sucessful artist use. Then decide if it's right for you.
Thanks Hitsu, it's just a bit hard for me to know which direction to go if my eyes see something different than the viewers do. But I do enjoy it
Thanks for your comment Jeff! I really don't think I got a big ego tho. I'm defenitly not saying the work I've done is good work, I actually dislike my own work the most I've experienced difficult project directors and AD's
and you are right about that. I don't mind at all if they pay me tho I look at it way different than personal work, they can do whatever they want with me. Getting paid to draw is already good enough for me. Drawing something that's totally up my alley and style is just a bonus.
You couldn't be more right Shorinji, thanks a lot for your comment.
I'm sorry for letting you guys down while I said it was gonna be better. I will keep trying hard and update this soon.
Last edited by DeJakhalz; June 1st, 2012 at 06:24 PM.
Amateur opinion here. I like the above designs but they do read as armor variations for the same character. Might be a stronger difference if it was in color and you had different palettes. To me, concept art is visual problem solving with each entry being a mostly unique attempt at getting close to your creative objective. It's about choice. If I was on the other end and had to chose, I wouldn't feel like I was really getting a choice. Do you prefer the red mini-cooper with the cream roof or the green mini-cooper with the black roof? Your overall designs for these guys don't deviate much from each other. I do however like the contrast changes you made, that definitely helped quite a bit. You've clearly got the skills to do this. I believe that you can go all the way.
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