Okay. So what does a junior character portfolio look like? (show and tell) *hired or in industry*

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So what should a junior or entry character artist portfolio look like at the very least to not get laughed at. I feel like a lot of pros are too vague on this when people just want a to know if they don't have enough skill or if they are marketing wrong.  Example would help a lot of people. 

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  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    Neox said:
    there is a thread here where people show their portfolios before they have been hired in AAA, i guess thats a good benchmark.

    I can show you a few of the candidates we hired in the past years

    https://www.artstation.com/timmoreels
    everything until zameen was done prior to us hiring him. by now Tim is a lead and has his own project

    https://www.artstation.com/babichon
    we just hired him earlier this year

    as your vatar shows you are going more for realism i can't really help or judge on that front.
    There seems to be a pretty big disparity between the two candidates (their portfolio at the time of hiring quanity as well as quality of work), was the first one hired as a junior?

    So what should a junior or entry character artist portfolio look like at the very least to not get laughed at. I feel like a lot of pros are too vague on this when people just want a to know if they don't have enough skill or if they are marketing wrong.  Example would help a lot of people. 
    Personally in my opinion, while there is a benchmark of sorts, its the positions that are rare to find. A lot of hiring in this industry is through referrals and recommendation, not to say that each candidate hired is ultimate rockstar, ninja, samurai. 
    Mostly everyone here knows this, but few point it out publicly for fear of being blacklisted (not sure if this actually happens, but its horribly excessive for what could be resolved through civilized dialog) 

    This makes the entire industry feel like a gulag. It needs to change/become more organized. Its just horrible mismanagement, surprising considering how many of them run on government grant money. 

    Then there's the aspect of requirement, i.e if the position advertised actually exists or is simply there since company is too lazy to take it down.
    One way that this fact is twisted here is "they are always looking for talent." 
    But realistically its project and funding determined. I've seen studios liquidate a week after hiring a bunch of people.

    Also in AAA industry you might be doing a characters boot rather than tackling the character in its entirely, so not sure why there is a mad emphasis on becoming top tier (Vitaly Bulgarov level) from the get go.

    Like always good to push yourself for yourself but I've seen way too much disparity in the hiring process, not to mention companies also prefer to poach artists from other companies with very little understanding of whether that actually merits a net benefit for the company going forward.
    In this case published game titles plays a big part in them considering you, even if what you've worked on has little to no relevance on what you'll actually be doing.
    HR is horribly disconnected like that from ground realities. Maybe its more of a thing in the NA game industry, I've heard better from Europe and Asia.

    The better character artists (like Bulgarov) who really push the bar and have tremendous skill , their work speaks for themselves and usually they stick to freelance and their own designs.
    Many worked in AAA for several years and then moved out when it was no longer a challenge/too much internal politics.


  • elias_degasperi
    So what should a junior or entry character artist portfolio look like at the very least to not get laughed at. I feel like a lot of pros are too vague on this when people just want a to know if they don't have enough skill or if they are marketing wrong.  Example would help a lot of people. 
    Yeah. I am in the same position. While I'm studying I think I can prepare my portfolio to show my work. 


    Neox said:
    there is a thread here where people show their portfolios before they have been hired in AAA, i guess thats a good benchmark.

    I can show you a few of the candidates we hired in the past years

    https://www.artstation.com/timmoreels
    everything until zameen was done prior to us hiring him. by now Tim is a lead and has his own project

    https://www.artstation.com/babichon
    we just hired him earlier this year

    as your vatar shows you are going more for realism i can't really help or judge on that front.
    Thx. I think this help us a lot. 
  • ScopeDragon
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    @Neox thank you! Every bit of clarity is a big help. 
  • Neox
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    Neox ngon master
    NikhilR said:
    Neox said:
    there is a thread here where people show their portfolios before they have been hired in AAA, i guess thats a good benchmark.

    I can show you a few of the candidates we hired in the past years

    https://www.artstation.com/timmoreels
    everything until zameen was done prior to us hiring him. by now Tim is a lead and has his own project

    https://www.artstation.com/babichon
    we just hired him earlier this year

    as your vatar shows you are going more for realism i can't really help or judge on that front.
    There seems to be a pretty big disparity between the two candidates (their portfolio at the time of hiring quanity as well as quality of work), was the first one hired as a junior?

    Yes, junior isnt only just based on the quality of work but also on the work experience behind. Number 1 had a little more work experience than Number 2. Number 2 showed a lot of promise considering there was no prior work experience.
    So far it works out great and it's not like if a junior shows senior capacities that they can jump up the chain quicker than others might.

    Quality or Amount of work isn't the only measure going from one level to another.
  • slosh
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    slosh quad damage
    So, for me, as a rule of thumb when I look at folios of people with no experience, what I look for is at mid level/sr character art quality with just far less content.  I give the range of mid-sr because that can definitely vary depending on the type of game you are hiring for, what you really require of someone at a jr level, and other random requirements for a particular company.  Basically, you need to be able to deliver on a game-ready asset at the quality of someone who's already been doing it for 2-3 years.  The caveat being that you will lack the speed and some knowledge that pertains specifically to stuff you learn on the job.  At a jr level, the tech side is hard to quantify and not really expected except at a base level of how to put a character into an engine.  But the artistic quality needs to be up to par and actually "game ready."  
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor polycount lvl 666
    No game dev biz experience, but I made a game once and am looking into hiring some contractors for my next. So this gives a little insight as it makes me have to think similar to the people who you might be working to earn the attention of.

    Basically, if I am gonna hire somebody I want somebody who can do something that is essential to project success that I cannot do myself. That is something very easy to gauge. You either have demonstrated the skill with a commercial product (or folio) or not.

    What is harder to tell is personality. It's probably less important for big company because you have very rigid structure people fit into so there's little room for them to seriously drop the ball and fuck shit up, but if I hire somebody I need to know they are reliable for the long haul and don't have personality disorders. They need to be able to shut up and work regardless of their personal issues and not need excessive hand holding. They need to know how to "adult." Maybe sounds obvious, but it's not. People struggle with dependability, responsibility, and often times can be a serious liability. So much so that you have to be extremely defensive to avoid wasting your time with people like this. It's very much guilty until proven innocent. You gotta assume every person is an incompetent boob until they prove otherwise.

    Eh, i'm just rambling.

    But you keep seeing over and over people trying to break into AAA industry, and the question is always, "whats the standard? what are the precise steps?"  There isn't. This is just bad expectations imparted by lousy education. Factory-worker mentality. "What I gotta do boss?"

    Your goal is to identify a specific person  (or entity) and convince them that you are going to make their next project go smoothly. Possibly you are going to exceed expectations and do something really incredible. So the question isn't, "wheres the checklist I should follow?" The question is "how do I sell myself? How do I convince people I'm worthy? How do I get positive attention?"  Or more specifically, "what does Susan the HR person at Ubisoft Montreal like? Where does she go on Saturday nights?" None of that is very objective, but it is easier questions to answer because you probably learned it all in kindergarten. Just got to apply what you learned. First, do good work. Second, make friends far and wide. Opportunities appear. If not, buck up and make opportunities appear. Stop wondering and hoping. Start testing and keep things moving.

    Problem is probably that this is not what reclusive artistic types wanna do. Be all extroverted and whatnot. But grinding on portfolio alone until somebody magically discovers you by the sheer genius of your work ain't gonna happen. There is a million other geniuses already. But if extreme competitive networking ain't your thing, probably you don't wanna work in some open office plan AAA studio anyway. A place where it's probably literally impossible to feel creative satisfaction because the overarching goals of a project are kept secret from the mere factory workers.

    Not to say it's a terrible job -- I dunno -- but I think the expectations of people going in versus the reality of what it is probably is large part of low long-term retention in the industry.

    In any case, if you sitting at home grinding, might as well make a game. It can benefit you towards getting AAA job, and it can benefit you in other ways too. My first game that was made in 10 weeks paid me back as if I'd been working that entire time, plus is still gives me dinner money each day. I've spent more time working on portfolio pieces that earned me zilch except a few lessons learned.

    It's not as hard as you might think to make a game, and you'll gain a lot more insight than if you just cranking out static portfolio pieces then feeling mopey cause nobody recognizes your existence.







  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    Neox said:
    NikhilR said:
    Neox said:
    there is a thread here where people show their portfolios before they have been hired in AAA, i guess thats a good benchmark.

    I can show you a few of the candidates we hired in the past years

    https://www.artstation.com/timmoreels
    everything until zameen was done prior to us hiring him. by now Tim is a lead and has his own project

    https://www.artstation.com/babichon
    we just hired him earlier this year

    as your vatar shows you are going more for realism i can't really help or judge on that front.
    There seems to be a pretty big disparity between the two candidates (their portfolio at the time of hiring quanity as well as quality of work), was the first one hired as a junior?

    Yes, junior isnt only just based on the quality of work but also on the work experience behind. Number 1 had a little more work experience than Number 2. Number 2 showed a lot of promise considering there was no prior work experience.
    So far it works out great and it's not like if a junior shows senior capacities that they can jump up the chain quicker than others might.

    Quality or Amount of work isn't the only measure going from one level to another.
    Ah so you mean no 1 is junior as far as your studio goes. In that sense its arbitrary at best, but then I'm not the one hiring. Was number 2 compared to other artists at the level of number 1 during the hiring process? How many artists did you go through to ascertain who would be the best person for the job? 

    Reason I ask is because as far as juniors go, I've seen hiring practices either consider individual merit, or comparitive merit both of which are totally at the whim of the people hiring, and both heavily dependent of timing and budget.
    There also seems to be zero emphasis on soft skills and other professional backgrounds.

    These last two bits aren't emphasized enough I find, most of the focus being on getting the portfolio top tier.

    For instance hiring an experienced artist as an intern after telling them that the internship is a way to learn the pipeline, then tossing them into the workplace and expecting them to pick up skills without any training whatsoever.

    Or having a competition between fresh graduates for an apprenticeship where the wage is way lower owing to a "probation" automatically crippling negotiations or an fair increase at market value when the artist becomes full time.
    Meaning its either you take the incremental increase of f* off.
    (both these practices I've seen in major AAA studios)

    Also many of these students do graduate from programs that simulate a studio space, with their teachers being from the studios that eventually (hopefully) hire them.
    So in a sense they have experience, probably not the same level, but if all they'll be doing is "boring grunt work" and present with senior level portfolios, is there a test done to calculate if they can work with the same speed as industry seniors or is that time dependent with the opportunities withheld to prevent an increase in wages?

    I'm finding that in cases where the hiring has an HR intermediary the process is even more messed up, with several greal portfolios completely dismissed since the prospective candidate doesn't know someone in the company.
    In this case, its seen as a safe bet to go with someone that is known to a current employee, I can't say that the same checks of portfolio and background apply here, or if they even matter.

    So it makes me wonder what real merit a great portfolio has towards a candidate being hired as a junior.
    For instance they ought to have the skills to do work at a junior level in a company which is likely all they will have for the first few years, but need to present with senior level portfolios to show potential while being held back from doing actual senior level work owing to a company's corporate structure. 

    All in all it really seems like anything goes, expected given it is the entertainment industry and in many respects sales/advertising/marketing.
    I think not having candidates from more diverse backgrounds and real world experience levels is also affecting the sort of people hired.

    And Its made worse by a capitalist free market mentality, but luckily we have the option to refuse bad practices, some of us anyway.


  • slosh
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    slosh quad damage
    Yea, it's definitely difficult to give an exact expectation of what qualifies for a jr character artist.  The best we can do as industry seniors is to give our own personal experiences.  I would not expect a junior to do everything from the get go...that is just ridiculous.  Ideally, you would have a mid level or sr mentoring a jr to bring them up to speed over the next 6 months to a year.  So a smaller studio might look for someone more experienced and a generalist instead so they don't have to mentor that person as much.  But, this randomness is why your folio is so important.  No one can dispute amazing art.  If you can add even just one mind blowing character art piece to your folio, that should at least get people interested in you.  A good way to gauge is to pick what sort of studio you want to aim your folio towards.  Find a character artist or just some of the character art you are aiming for and hit that quality.  It's not as subjective as you would think.  The airborne examples are good IMO.  Esp the second one.  He is hitting the quality level that they need but just doesn't have experience or a ton of content in his folio.

  • Neox
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    Neox ngon master
    of course there is no universal definition of what a junior is, it is very dependent per studio. We get way too many applications, so of course everybody gets compared to other candidates and based on their portfolio and later on also on softskills. that's what interviews, testruns or  trial periods are for. Portfolio opens the door, how the artist interacts with the team is super important. Do they push for information? Are they willing to learn? How do they react on and implement feedback? What questions do they ask in the interview, how do they react on questions? I doubt any studio ignores those soft skills.

    Personally what i look for in juniors? clean enough work, work that aligns somewhat to our work, likely also my taste. Messy, bumpy work turns me off, dirty noisy textures as well. I want to see that an artist understands the full process of the workflow. That applies to any artist, Junior or Senior or Lead. We want artists who are able and want to do the whole process, fun bits and more technical bits. We turned down really experienced really good sculptors for that reason, its a hard No for people withou much experience on our end,
    I don't expect a junior to be fast or know everything, we can teach a lot. but they need a solid artistic foundation to work with. a foundation that aligns with our work. someone who likes gritty dark designs will not be happy at our place. someone who wants to do super realistic weapons will not be happy at our place etc.

    Besides all that, there are of course business based reasons, do we need a junior? can we even support a junior? with enough meaningful work? with support and training? We don't have many juniors in general, clients expect quality work, so we have to make sure this applies. 
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor polycount lvl 666
    yeah so i think the lesson is, if you wanna work at airborne studios, that right there is your answer^^^

    what does the guy who hires at airborn studios like? There is the answer.^^^ nothing more to discuss about that.

    but if you wanna work at, chairborn studios, or joebob studios, or blizzard or w/e, you find the person there who does the hiring and get the same answer from them. That way you not guessing at things. If this means you literally stalk the person to get the info you need, do it. Don't be shy. I mean don't be creepy either but have initiative to accomplish your mission.

    If you don't have as precise a target, you probbaly gonna lose out to the person who does have a precise target. So you gotta be serious and know precisely what your goal is. "I wanna be character artist." or "I wanna git gudder at art" is not a proper goal. Gotta be able to identify a clear target so you can always know exactly how close you are to it.
  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    yeah so i think the lesson is, if you wanna work at airborne studios, that right there is your answer^^^

    what does the guy who hires at airborn studios like? There is the answer.^^^ nothing more to discuss about that.

    but if you wanna work at, chairborn studios, or joebob studios, or blizzard or w/e, you find the person there who does the hiring and get the same answer from them. That way you not guessing at things. If this means you literally stalk the person to get the info you need, do it. Don't be shy. I mean don't be creepy either but have initiative to accomplish your mission.

    If you don't have as precise a target, you probbaly gonna lose out to the person who does have a precise target. So you gotta be serious and know precisely what your goal is. "I wanna be character artist." or "I wanna git gudder at art" is not a proper goal. Gotta be able to identify a clear target so you can always know exactly how close you are to it.
    I think the main challenge that I've found about this aspect is that their perception of what is needed by a studio for a junior level artist is way too fluid.

    Like even in the airborne studios example, that first artist is way more skilled than the second, but they are both juniors as far as the company is concerned.

    And that's just how that studio works. Many studios work this way.

    What I can't get my head around is that how much of that portfolio and great quality art to get eyes on your work actually translates to the work you actually do in a studio.

    Like its perfectly reasonable to approach a studio to find the kind of work they do and tailor to that and it does work some of the time, but looking over hired candidates I see so much disparity its bizarre to think that all of them hit some imaginary bar that got them into a company.

    And honestly atleast in Montreal, every single hire I know of has been through and internal referral, and I really can't say too much about their portfolios save for the fact that there's potential, I mean why wouldn't there be, lol.

    Also many seniors are poached/leave their companies to join other companies because of working conditions. They apply for junior-mid roles too, which is why I emphasise that something needs to be done to remedy that, for instance improve working conditions to match the IT industry so people stay with companies longer and there is more growth internally, not just a talent swap.




  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor polycount lvl 666
    yeah that's what I'm saying. Forget about imaginary quality bars. Find out what Joe the CEO of X studio's bar is. That will be specific and actionable.

    There is no objectivism in thte world. Not in medicine, not in engineering, not in government. So why expect it in art and entertainment? It's all a bunch of monkeys in suits playing a grand, stupid game. You either play along with it, or not. So the game is find out what somebody wants, and give it to them. Make a deal. That's all there is to it.

    It's on the job seeker to know what they hell they are applying for. You apply to a job where you unwrap shoes all day and its crushign your soul, shame on you for not doing proper research.
  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    yeah that's what I'm saying. Forget about imaginary quality bars. Find out what Joe the CEO of X studio's bar is. That will be specific and actionable.

    There is no objectivism in thte world. Not in medicine, not in engineering, not in government. So why expect it in art and entertainment? It's all a bunch of monkeys in suits playing a grand, stupid game. You either play along with it, or not. So the game is find out what somebody wants, and give it to them. Make a deal. That's all there is to it.

    It's on the job seeker to know what they hell they are applying for. You apply to a job where you unwrap shoes all day and its crushign your soul, shame on you for not doing proper research.
    Medicine is definitely a safer bet atleast out west, though I'd prefer the game industry to be more IT industry than marketing/sales.
    Like the mad amount spent on marketing with multiple titles released to the public in a single year is one approach, I prefer the other approach that is more focused on delivering a quality product and taking the time to release it without killing your developers or wasting their time.

    And it is possible to do this by changing the way AAA development currently operates in a mad competitive and secretive model that prioritises investors more than the artist.
    Heck seeing the disgrace that was Mass Effect Andromeda, it doesn't seem like they prioritise the audience either, that one game is a great example of a company that see's more incentive in marketing for profit than actually caring about quality.

    If there were more organised standards, a job seeker wouldn't need to jump through so many hoops to perform what is essentially a service rather than some obsessive dream. It really is more about making sure that everyone benefits, but the games industry has the added issue of the workforce being uh unconventional, so very easy to manipulate and abuse.

    The fact that rockstar, ninja, samurai in game studio adverts actually works is quite symbolic of this larger problem.
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor polycount lvl 666
    Well the people driving the industry are completely disconnected from it. So it's not like anybody making the big decisions gives a shit about you or me.

    It's why killing people with guns is so easy. Somebody is far away, there is no connection. Easy to pull the trigger. Dudes flying planes can easily bomb a school full of children. Never think twice about it. Because it's just pixels on a screen right. But you think that same dude gonna strangle a child he knows?

    If your first line supervisor was the guy who decides to fire, he'd never fire you. Because you see each other every day. There is connection. A guy six thousand miles away in an office who hasn't been poor a day in his life and doesn't know a thing about the companies he owns? Whatever. Shuffle some numbers around, stroke his ego a bit when he makes more money he doesn't need.

    The more layers of disconnection you have, the easier it is to not give a shit. That's just the price to pay of 8bn people on the planet. Human brain is the same as 1 million years ago. It cares about the tribe and nothing else. So when the tribe is lost, there is nothing for it to care about. The people chasing endless money are just sad people trying to fill that gap. They not any more evil than anybody else, they just born into a certain position but have the same needs as anybody else.

  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor polycount lvl 666
    lol, sorry nikhil gets me going about the ills of the world.



  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Brian "Panda" Choi insane polycounter
    A junior character artist's portfolio is good at being succinct about what it's trying to communicate.
  • ScopeDragon
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    ScopeDragon triangle
    Neox said:
    there is a thread here where people show their portfolios before they have been hired in AAA, i guess thats a good benchmark.

    I can show you a few of the candidates we hired in the past years

    https://www.artstation.com/timmoreels
    everything until zameen was done prior to us hiring him. by now Tim is a lead and has his own project

    https://www.artstation.com/babichon
    we just hired him earlier this year

    as your vatar shows you are going more for realism i can't really help or judge on that front.
    Thank for your imput man. It's eye opening 
  • ScopeDragon
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    ScopeDragon triangle
    All of this information helps guys. Thank you! 
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