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"Freelance Character Artist". How do i become one?

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Serj vertex

Good day to anyone who reads this!

First of all, 

I'm terribly sorry if questions like mine already been asked here, but I’ve read the Wiki and find no answers I was looking for.

I'm not claiming to do a main character of a AAA story driven game. Making generic monsters for some decent action rpg or rts would make me happy enough.

It's been awhile since i started to look for a job as a Character artist. Not much though, but i don't feel any progress. Lack of human-written replies certainly doesn't help it.

So far, my strategy has been to find suitable 3d game and send my CV to its creators.

  • My demo reel (for short): vimeo.com/226823836
  • and  portfolio: sketchfab.com/ankor 

But, alas, this does not work yet.

And the sad part is that I don't know anyone remotely involved in modeling for the game industry. I just have no one to ask if I'm doing the right thing.Without a feedback of recruiters or someone competent one cannot determine his skill level. I feel somewhat like Robinson Crusoe here.

 If only there would be some sort of “magic” character, that sets the bar and separates professionals from the amateurs, I would definitely give it a try.

There are a lot of things that I could do, but I do not know what worth doing.

From my perspective, I can focus myself on one of these directions:

  1. Continue to spamming CV’s
  2. Make some more characters like i've already done
  3. Drop the topology and materials , focusing myself solely on proper sculpting
  4. Cut excess and sculpt some heads with expressive faces.
  5. Do some photorealistic characters (though , I don’t intend to work on cinematics and such)
  6. Create more story driven poses and complicated backgrounds for my characters for a better overall look
  7. Do some famous character for instant recognition of the audience, trying to win some likes at the Artstation
  8. None of the above

Given the choice, what should I do?

 

Thank you all for reading this wall of text !

Please excuse me if did something wrong: it’s my first post on the forum like that.

Replies

  • samnwck
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    samnwck polycounter lvl 5
    So a couple things. First, I don't like to sit and load a 3d model whenever I look at a portfolio piece, I'd consider getting a proper 2d portfolio via artstation. Second, your pieces seem to cater to a certain look, ie extremely-boobified gals, which is fine if the types of studios you're applying for make those types of games with extremely exaggerated features. Employers need to look at your art and instantly be able to see where one of your characters could fit into something they might make.

    I think the biggest thing your characters lack is a big wow factor, I feel most of them tend to look a bit flat so I think the texturing could use some work. Your topology is also very inconsistent, it goes from low poly to extremely high decimated models and I can't figure out why, employers will look at that.

    Self editing is something your portfolio could use. There are definitely pieces that aren't as strong as the others. Remember you're only as good as your worst piece. And when you're thinking of putting in a piece that is outside your title you're looking for (ie environment art on a character art portfolio) make sure it is up to snuff with current industry work.

    If you want to work in games, just sculpts won't get you far. I guess what we need from you is to know what you're going for, what's a title or company you want to work at so we can give you design direction, but without knowing your end goal it's hard to place. Not all art is created equal in a production environment, because a good Overwatch-type character is good for that type of game, but not for a Call of Duty. You should specialize on one type of art style and work towards that.


  • Serj
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    Serj vertex
    Joebewon and samnwck, thank you very much for your reply !

    It's unbelievably refreshing to speak with someone from the industry !

    samnwck said:
    So a couple things. First, I don't like to sit and load a 3d model whenever I look at a portfolio piece, I'd consider getting a proper 2d portfolio via artstation. Second, your pieces seem to cater to a certain look, ie extremely-boobified gals, which is fine if the types of studios you're applying for make those types of games with extremely exaggerated features. Employers need to look at your art and instantly be able to see where one of your characters could fit into something they might make.

    I think the biggest thing your characters lack is a big wow factor, I feel most of them tend to look a bit flat so I think the texturing could use some work. Your topology is also very inconsistent, it goes from low poly to extremely high decimated models and I can't figure out why, employers will look at that.

    Self editing is something your portfolio could use. There are definitely pieces that aren't as strong as the others. Remember you're only as good as your worst piece. And when you're thinking of putting in a piece that is outside your title you're looking for (ie environment art on a character art portfolio) make sure it is up to snuff with current industry work.

    If you want to work in games, just sculpts won't get you far. I guess what we need from you is to know what you're going for, what's a title or company you want to work at so we can give you design direction, but without knowing your end goal it's hard to place. Not all art is created equal in a production environment, because a good Overwatch-type character is good for that type of game, but not for a Call of Duty. You should specialize on one type of art style and work towards that.


    Without proper feedback i can only determine my skill level via likes on sites such as sketchfab. And as you can clearly see - when i try to do something different it doesnt appreciated much. Though it was much more complex.

    I've tried to do Overwatch-type character because it's just popular enough and seems to be a standart of some sort.
    Joebewon said:
    The biggest thing which I say most people will say is your portfolio.  Look at your work and then compare it to a lot "Freelance Character Artists".  There are lots of great character artists.  

    But, just hitting google images for "Freelance Character Artist" look at the first images and how they present their work:

    I think getting yourself an artstation account for presentation as well as setting up your models better could help out for sure.  

    Also, @Gav gave a lot of really good information for a lot of people trying to find work:

    What Game Recruiters Really Think About Your Application

    http://polycount.com/discussion/189477/what-game-recruiters-really-think-about-your-application

    Why I Hate Demo Reels

    http://polycount.com/discussion/188930/why-i-hate-demo-reels/p1

    Read those!  

    Also, everything falls back on your portfolio.  I'm not much of a sculptor myself, but I think you should check out Mike Pavlovich's work.  https://www.youtube.com/user/Pavlovich2005/videos
    https://cubebrush.co/pavlovich

    For every artist I think we can always look to improve.  But, if you're wanting to do freelance character art you're going to have to have some top level work to showcase to clients.  

    Hope this stuff helps and good luck! 
    Talking about presentation you mean composition and lighting or just representation of additional stuff like textures and such ?



    thank you all for your answers ! It's already been a great help.

    So as i understand now, i should focus myself on adequate Artstation portfolio? But i still don't quite get how to  specialize myself on one type of art style.

    Let's say, i want to work for Diablo-like game on it monsters. What should i do in that case? 
    Whose portfolio can serve as the beacon for this task?
  • Serj
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    Serj vertex
    samnwck  and Joebewon , thank you very much !
    It's unbelievably refreshing to speak with someone from the industry !

    Without feedback on my works, i can only determine my skill level via amount of likes on sites such as sketchfab. And as you can clearly see, when i trying to do something completely different it doesen't gets even close to approval.

    Overwatch-like character was made just because it somewhat popular and can serve as a standard of some sort.


    So, as i can see, i should focus myself solely on creation of an adequate Artstation portfolio, right?
    Though still i can't quite get how to get a "design direction". 
    What does it mean?

    Let's say, i want to work on some Diablo-like game, making monsters and such. What should i do in that case?

    Whose portfolio can serve as a beacon for that purpose?
  • slosh
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    slosh hero character
    Serj, if you have a specific company you are aiming for, just make fanart of some of their stuff.  If you like Diablo, create a diablo fanart character for your folio.  You can probably google "blizzard character artist" and probably get a dozen folios of people who work there which should give you a great indication of the quality bar you need to hit.  You don't even have to do fanart if you want to do your own unique design.  Just model and texture it in the style of the company you are aiming for.  Post on polycount for feedback but most importantly, be self critical.  Is your work as good as the artists at the company you are trying to get into?  If it's not, keep working!
  • samnwck
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    samnwck polycounter lvl 5
    I won't cover your other points because slosh did a good part of it already. But I think it's very important that you and every else reading this know that 'likes' is probably the worst metric you can use as a new artist to determine how good your art is. There are many reasons for this and it can work several ways.

    Suppose an art major had made something that art professionals would call mediocre, and they post something on facebook or sketchfab and all their art school friends like their artwork. So they're flying high thinking they're the hot shit when really they may have liked it for any host of reasons that the person isn't privy to (and they don't always add up to people actually thinking it is good). These could be:
    a. either they really liked it,
    b. they liked that you went and did something,
    c. they're being nice (the pity like)

    But lets take it from the other side, lets say an awesome artist is just getting started, posts his first thing on artstation/ or X forum and no one really likes or comments on it because the person has no major following and it is quickly swept down off the new posts page and buried in with a bunch of other stuff. That person thinks they're crap if all they're doing is basing their merit off of 'likes' on X social media platform.

    My main point is that unless you can guarantee that your work is put in front of 1000 different people who either always like things they like, or choose to not like when they don't like it, then the whole metric is pretty much bunk.

    This is where being self critical and self awareness is more important than outside attention, because chances are you won't get the kind of reception you want to your piece. 

    I'll just throw this in here as well because it illustrates a good point when you do go looking for proper criticism (I don't know who made this but it wasn't me):



  • Serj
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    Serj vertex

    Thank you all for your answers !

    I'm sure it will save a lot of my health.

     

    «Character artist at Blizzard entertainment» in any way is a long shot.

    I know that working on portfolio is a lifetime gig. But since i will be starving tomorrow already, i thought maybe there is some projects where expectations would be low enough for me ?

    I've seen a lot of games with much simpler characters then Diablo. Characters with no separate eyes and teeth and even human proportions. Some mobile games for example.

    Could it be the way?

     

    Since i'm kinda new here, would you mind me asking how to post here for feedback? Should I create a new topic for myself, or just for work? And in which section?

     

    I didn't quite understand what on the X axis?

  • Kevin Albers
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    Kevin Albers polycounter lvl 16
    I'd just like to point out that your original post of questions and thoughts makes a lot of sense. You clearly are concerned about various topics that are relevant, and things like your list of options to focus on is a good list. You sound like you are concerned that maybe you don't have a clue about how to proceed, but really, you have a good sense of important issues, despite not knowing other game artists. All this is a good sign!

    People are giving you good advice, also :)

    Good luck.
  • Serj
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    Serj vertex

    Thank you so much !

    If only i knew how to prioritise this options.

    I must say,the greeting of polycount is very сonstructive and just amaze me.

  • Kevin Albers
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    Kevin Albers polycounter lvl 16
    #5 is a good option for a next step. Having at least 1 fairly photo-realistic character in a character portfolio is very helpful.

    #2 is the least helpful for your portfolio. No need to show stuff very similar to stuff you already have. However, it's important to note that simply making more stuff and endlessly getting better over time is, long-term, probably your best strategy. So doing more characters of ANY type is good for you, as long as you learn a couple of new minor things each time.
  • Serj
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    Serj vertex
    Well, that's a bit unexpected.
    I didn't imagine that photorealistic character might be that significantly important for a person who would like to make monsters from the crowd(literally) in some hack'n'slash game which are far from being realistic.

    When i told about diablo-like games, i didn't mean main characters. My intention was to make something much less important :



    I have one more question.I heard that it's very important for one's portfolio to show the skill of creation anatomically correct models. But if I aim to companies that make fantasy monsters whether it matter?


  • slosh
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    slosh hero character
    It matters a lot actually.  It's less about having a realistic character and more about knowing your anatomy inside and out.  Doesn't matter if you are sculpting non human creatures or monsters.  Those still have to be grounded in solid anatomical knowledge and its easy to tell when someone doesn't have that, trust me.  The best creature modelers have some of the best anatomical sculpts and that's what makes their creatures more believable.
  • Serj
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    Serj vertex

    Thank you very much !
    Thank you all !!

    Well, that was a lot to process.

    Summarizing the topic, as i understand, i should do this :

    1. Clean Up my Artstation profile (already got one) - delete all obsolete works.
    2. Continue to create characters, but with even more attention to anatomy.
    3. Make at least one photorealistyc character.
    4. Ignore all such metrics as "likes" and just concentrate work on characters that i like myself.
    5. Try to avoid sculpts and focus on finished characters with textures and topology.

    One last question.

    What does it mean WIP
    I know it's translated "Work in progress", but, really, how does it work? At what point can (or should) i  create WiP post ? 

     

    And...what to do with it then?

  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Brian "Panda" Choi high dynamic range
    You make a WIP post anytime, anywhere, and for whatever reason.

    And you make a better WIP next time.
  • sacboi
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    sacboi polycount lvl 666
    What does it mean WIP
    I know it's translated "Work in progress", but, really, how does it work? At what point can (or should) i  create WiP post ?

    I would further elaborate, be it a passion project/portfolio entry/client job...etc, implementing one or more disciplines generating CG content of any description. Typically people start these online artistic endeavours solely for peer review, in other words attract critique/feedback from other artists offering advice on areas that may need correction or a tweak here and there. As alluded too above mainly a learning process plus in my honest opinion, more importantly in a sense an collaborative effort towards hopefully completion of the intended goal.  

  • Serj
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    Serj vertex
    It looks like that's exactly what I missed all the time!
    In what section of forum should i make WIP topic?

    And is there any rules that i should know?

    P.S.
    For some reason,  it started to post my older messages here.
    I don't quite get why.

  • Serj
  • Serj
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