Can't land a job after graduating from college. Advice appreciated.

JustMKollum
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JustMKollum polycounter lvl 7
Hello. My name is Justin McCollum. As a hard-working, devoted graduate from Indian River State College with a Bachelor's degree in 3D Modeling, Gaming & Animation, I intended to use my  skills to land a job in the gaming or animation industry. However, it seems impossible.

The trouble is, I live in a small, retirement town called Vero Beach, Florida, an hour and a half away from Orlando.  I know in Orlando, there are lots of 3D-related companies, but it's irrelevant because they're "in-person jobs" & I can't afford to get my own apartment in Orlando right now.

So, I am trying to land a job via remote work.

I'm curious to know if you guys think I at least have the potential, but I have my doubts because I applied for 6 different full-time remote jobs, and got rejected from all 6 of them. It's discouraging, sometimes I can't help but feel I'm not good enough, regardless of me having a Bachelor's Degree.

What is your advice to landing a job in this industry, particularly remote work?

I appreciate your time.

- Justin

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  • PolyHertz
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    PolyHertz sublime tool
    More then half the work in your artstation should be removed, as the only pieces that look done are the Kitchen, Seance, Cola bottle, and the fruit bowl (though I'd recommend changing the wall behind the fruit bowl). Your other pieces all either look unfinished, poorly lit (you seriously need to work on your lighting), or in the case of the characters don't meet the typical level of skill you'd expect of a professional character artist.

    Also you say you have a degree in game art but none few of your portfolio pieces appear to be in a game engine. I see Renderman is being used a lot, but game companies want to see everything in a game engine (or at least something with comparable technology such as Marmoset Toolbag).

    I also don't see any mention of Substance Designer or Painter anywhere? Most studios use them these days so it's important to know them (unless you plan on working at an indie or mobile developer which focus on 2D / Pixel / low spec 3D art).
  • JustMKollum
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    JustMKollum polycounter lvl 7
    PolyHertz said:
    More then half the work in your artstation should be removed, as the only pieces that look done are the Kitchen, Seance, Cola bottle, and the fruit bowl (though I'd recommend changing the wall behind the fruit bowl). Your other pieces all either look unfinished, poorly lit (you seriously need to work on your lighting), or in the case of the characters don't meet the typical level of skill you'd expect of a professional character artist.

    Also you say you have a degree in game art but none of your portfolio work appears to be in a game engine. I see Renderman is being used a lot, but the game companies wants to see things in a game engine (or at least something with comparable technology such as Marmoset Toolbag).

    I also don't see any mention of Substance Designer or Painter anywhere? Most studios use them these days so it's important to know them (unless you plan on working at an indie or mobile developer which focus on 2D / Pixel / low spec 3D art).

    Did you even see the Destroyed Subway arena? That was all rendered in Unreal Engine 4 and EVERYTHING was textured in Substance Painter. There's a rendered animation I uploaded to YouTube. I have all my software expertise listed on my Resume when I apply. And I have footage I can upload of the Throne Room brought into Unity. I won 1st Place in Modeling at my college's Digital Media Exhibition and those awards are listed on my resume too.

    I agree with you on the characters, so I took thrm down. But I thought that my R2D2 looked decent, so I left him up.
  • PolyHertz
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    PolyHertz sublime tool
    Apologies, I should have checked more thoroughly before making the comment about substance and game engines. But no need to get angry over it.
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor polycount lvl 666
    My advice: drop everyything from the portfolio and plan to spend two more years study/practicing. Apply for jobs in meantime if you want to but don't hold your breath.

    Make improving R2D2 your goal. Turn him into a properly optimized game model. Render him in unity or unreal. He should look indistinguishable from whatever the most recent AAA star wars game was. If it comes out looking like anything less you can chalk it up as a learning project. Take your lessons learned and continue moving forward.

    Get started by finding R2D2 from teh most recent AAA game and compare it side by side with yours. List all the things you think are different, and then get other peoples opinions too. Now you got a checklist to work from. Checklist are great for keeping productive and staying motivated.

    Nowadays the AAA games look pretty close to film. So the standard is pretty high. If you want to work in an indie studio or something other than AAA, consider getting involved in some game jams, modding communities, or publishing your own games. That is the best way to learn how to make proper models for games.

    Think about how you look in other peoples eyes. If somebody is reviewing your body of work, what are they going to say? "Eh, maybe he'll be okay to have around?" Or, "holy shit, this guy is an unstoppable force of explosive creativity. If he was on our team, how could we possibly fail?"

  • VelvetElvis
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    VelvetElvis polycounter lvl 8
    This is a common graduate level portfolio, you can give it a rating of 3.6 roentgen. Not great, not terrible. But nothing will make you stand out from the literal hundreds of resumes and portfolio's that come into most job postings.

    Where do you want to focus your skills? Environments or characters? Start there, then wipe everything from your portfolio that is not in that category or put them at the end of the portfolio. If you would re-work some of your MK scenes, they could be those pieces that get you hired. For example, on the subway you have the same material on the ceiling as the walls of the hole, and that just doesn't happen. Little details like that are what will start to set you apart from other candidates. Look at the Brawl submissions from a ways back for inspiration if needed.

    As mentioned before, it doesn't matter how good of a modeler you are if your lighting skills are killing the presentation. Your model is the camera body, but lighting and materials are the lens it must pass through before it gets to the camera. Would you put a $50 lens on a $6,000 camera?

    Remote jobs are hard, and especially hard to hire a new graduate at. You have no history so how can they count on you to get the work done? Remote work is easily 1,000% harder than in-office work as you have to really focus and avoid distractions. Without a proven history of work at the remote level, many places won't take the risk of hiring you. You may excel at it, but you are still a huge risk for them so your portfolio has to be that much better to balance out the risk factor.

    How do you know you can't afford a place in Orlando? I survived the first year right out of school in Southern California on $38k a year. Yeah, it sucked but I got by as I built my skill level up. Roommates are also an option. You are young, you are a recent grad, most of us had to live with roommates to go where the jobs are. Unless you have a family to look after, there is nothing holding you back from going after work in Orlando. In office work is honestly the best for new grads because you can learn so much more from the people there than you can working remotely.

    Your kitchen rendering is pretty good and honestly, could land you a job in arch viz. On average the bar for quality over in arch viz is somewhat lower than games and film.  You may have to power though that for a while while you focus your skills.


  • sacboi
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    sacboi sublime tool
    ^This.

    "What is your advice to landing a job....particularly remote work?"

    Well, in my limited (...via an unrelated games/film CG sector) experience can be as competitive if not more so than applying for a inhouse role and may also throw up particular challenges from time to time when a client is based further afield, for example, offshore. Any how in addition too all previous replies...is to learn how to receive critique, as well.
  • JustMKollum
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    JustMKollum polycounter lvl 7
    OK, I understand I'm coming across as defensive rather than having an open and listening ear; but it's just the way you say the critiques that make the difference. I'm a sensitive person to begin with, but all of you are telling me to get rid of my portfolio entirely and rather harshly. "Half of your stuff on Artstation needs to be removed". "Your lighting is poorly done". It's just I've won prizes for some of the stuff in my portfolio at my college's exhibitions, like the Throne Room and then to be shut down entirely here, I can't help but feel flabbergasted, it throws me off guard.

    But to prove that I get what you guys are saying, and that I'm listening...

    1. Decide what I want my portfolio to be based upon, and set it to that category. I understand my portfolio is mixed with different kinds of media, but I decided a while back that I want to be an "Environment Modeler" for games. I know that character modeling is NOT my strongest suit, which is why I removed them from Artstation, and I find joy in 3D Modeling props and making the scenes come to life. So, Environment art is where I want my portfolio to be based upon.

    2. There are different levels of quality. "Amateur/Beginner", "College/Progressively Learning", "College-Graduate" and "Professional". I know that over time and with enough practice, my skills gradually get better. I do go back here and there and try to improvise my works.

    3. Focus on practicing and building my portfolio before committing to finding jobs. My professor and mentor said the same exact thing. It helps too, to create a decent demo reel. What good is a demo reel if there's not a lot of portfolio pieces?

    4. My R2D2 Model is as detailed as AAA's Battlefront 2 R2D2, but mine I noticed is most likely too high in polygons to be in a game, it's too detailed using polygons rather than normals. I have been practicing with baking normal maps between Maya and ZBrush, so if I want to be a game modeler, I plan to practice more with lower poly models and texture baking.

    5. I'm now motivated to study on Udemy and learn lighting techniques and more about Unreal Engine 4. With the Subway arena, I find the setup, interface and end results to be much easier and more realistic than Unity. So I do want to explore more. Unreal Engine wasn't taught in my college, it was Unity. I know Unity is in high demand, but I prefer Unreal Engine because of it's realism, I'm self taught.

    I understand what you guys are saying, it's just a bad impression on the way you said it. Again, I can be sensitive and I realize that I am facing the real world now, not being let off the hook so easy and overlooked like in college. I'm under the microscope now. It just takes some getting used to. Thanks.
  • JustMKollum
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    JustMKollum polycounter lvl 7

    How do you know you can't afford a place in Orlando? I survived the first year right out of school in Southern California on $38k a year. Yeah, it sucked but I got by as I built my skill level up. Roommates are also an option. You are young, you are a recent grad, most of us had to live with roommates to go where the jobs are. Unless you have a family to look after, there is nothing holding you back from going after work in Orlando. In office work is honestly the best for new grads because you can learn so much more from the people there than you can working remotely.

    Well I didn't want to say it, but I'm in so much debt right now, that my credit isn't good enough to even rent an apartment. That's why I've been looking for jobs so I can catch up and move to Orlando as soon as I can. I don't know anybody in Orlando to bunk with, and I'm not comfortable sharing an apartment with a complete stranger.

  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor polycount lvl 666
    Yeah, the education system and college is really setting people up for failure. It's not your fault. It's fine to be sensitive. Especially as an artist, you should be sensitive. But when it comes to work, there is not usually time for politeness. Just relay the essential information and that's that. Don't take tone or style personal. Some people come across mean or harsh, but then you realize, "they are taking time to help me." So you figure out what the useful information is and forget the rest.

    You get used to it. Some people don't, and they are always difficult to work with.When you busy working on a deadline you don't want to have to carefully consider every stinking word because so-and-so gets triggered easily. What a headache.

    Remember to always take care of number one. Nobody else is going to. So if everybody is saying mean shit and you feel torn down, who is gonna lift you back up? Only one person you can always rely on right.
  • JustMKollum
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    JustMKollum polycounter lvl 7
    Yeah, the education system and college is really setting people up for failure. It's not your fault. It's fine to be sensitive. Especially as an artist, you should be sensitive. But when it comes to work, there is not usually time for politeness. Just relay the essential information and that's that. Don't take tone or style personal. Some people come across mean or harsh, but then you realize, "they are taking time to help me." So you figure out what the useful information is and forget the rest.

    You get used to it. Some people don't, and they are always difficult to work with.When you busy working on a deadline you don't want to have to carefully consider every stinking word because so-and-so gets triggered easily. What a headache.

    Yes, I agree. My college especially did not prepare me for this career path. It's bullshit for all the money I paid and now I'm in student loan debt for I feel a good portion of my college career was a waste of time. In my "3D Modeling, Gaming & Animation" degree, they neglected these courses from me:

    The Fine Arts

    1. Figure Drawing
    2. Perspective Drawing
    3. Lighting/Shading Fundamentals
    4. Sculpting/Clay
    5. Human Anatomy

    Game Design

    6. Motion Capture
    7. Advanced Character Animation
    8. Character Sculpture (ZBrush/Mudbox)
    9. Unreal Engine
    10. Advanced texturing (Substance Painter)

    ALL OF THESE I should have taken, but I was never taught, so it's a good reason for me to have my doubts, and the reason why I can't do characters. My School was voted "Top 10 Community Colleges". But they don't have the funding supposedly to teach this stuff (with all the money I paid for 9 years, they should! So I'm trying my best to self teach me these lessons on sites like Udemy and YouTube. I also have one of my professors who experiments with Substance Painter and ZBrush, so he's a mentor that helps me learn outside of school, which is very convenient.

  • Eric Chadwick
    @JustMKollum moving this from General Discussion to Career & Education.
  • Taylor Brown
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    Taylor Brown sublime tool
    You'll get there. Once the bitterness over your education wears off a bit, you'll be in a better spot to be creative. I've found that working out of money anxiety / desperation for the job will burn you out in the long term. Perhaps scale down a bit back to the diorama work but focus on making it a game ready (optimized models / correct PBR workflow / actual bakes etc) portfolio piece that really focuses on the quality or even some high end hero props. You have an artistic eye for the work, that much is clear, but its just your technical ability and attention to detail that is holding you back right now. 

    As an aside, it can be difficult but try not to get sentimental about your portfolio work. Every time you post something you need to re-examine your portfolio as a whole and determine if there is a weak link.. something that will bring a negative question into a hiring manager's head. While you might have won awards in school... you're not competing for jobs with your classmates. You're competing against experienced professionals most of the time and no one hiring will likely care about what you did in school unless it's on par with someone already kicking ass in the industry.

    When you're feeling financially safe and you're feeling more confident that you've gotten fundamentals locked in, I'd recommend Clinton Crumplers CGMA course, Modular Environments in UE4. Udemy and Youtube are pretty hit or miss, lots of garbage content, weak workflows or straight up misinfo to sift through. Gnomon Workshop's videos or CGMA courses are the way to go if you want a strong, consolidated and industry standard education, imo.

    I recommend having a read through this - https://www.polygon-academy.com/10-insider-tips-for-artists-applying-to-game-studios/
  • slosh
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    slosh quad damage
    So, not to be a dick but what is being said in here is pretty tame man.  It can sound rough but people are being honest to give you a better idea of what is necessary to get into the industry.  Fortunately, it does seem like you see what they were pointing out which is good.  I remember when I showed my folio to the first game studio I applied to, I was told "your video editing is the best thing in your folio."  Sure it kinda sucks hearing that but you have to form a thicker skin.  I too was at the top of my art class but it just means jack when you apply to pro gigs.  And yes, at the time I thought my work was good but it was clearly crap lol.  I will say you are far better than I was coming out of school!  You have a good foundation, you just need to apply that to hitting a higher quality bar on your assets.  If you wanna do games, definitely dive deeper into low poly pipeline.  Good luck!
  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    I actually think your portfolio is pretty good, could use a few more tweaks and definitely more breakdown showing your process.
    I didn't quite see your character work, so you could pm me that if you like.

    The general consensus you'll get on this site here is your portfolio is the single most important thing in getting a job.
    Now while that isn't wrong, what constitutes a good portfolio really depends on where you're applying.

    So while there is always room for improvement, you may be able to find a good fit in a studio where your portfolio is good enough for the job they have.

    Now even on the job side there are a ton of variables.
    Unless you consider freelance where you may have to work on every single aspect of a scene or character, in a AAA studio you usually always work on a portion of it as team.
    Also the fact that every person there is incredibly skilled and the best for the job is a totally fallacy, primarly because of the nature of the work being as fluid as is.

    Like I met an environment artist from a AAA company here that is moving into characters. He took the environment job through connections within the company, his portfolio wasn't good enough, not like the work in the company required that level of skill anyway.

    In fact his character art isn't good enough either, but they had a internal vacancy and the job he's assigned is retopoing body scans.

    So in that sense what he's doing, is following a script which is usually what you do in production art. Its like putting together sandwiches at subway.

    Compared to what you're expected to demonstrate in your portfolio the actual work is very methodic than artistic in most cases.
     So much art is outsourced, a good many of my environment artist friends who clearly have talent to do something original are fixing up what the company gets from china instead of actually making anything.
     They hate it, and many of them have ditched their companies for exactly this reason. But there are many that like this fact and remain where they are since its money.

    Fortunately (or unfortunately) artists get poached, leave companies, get laid off, whole studios liquidate and more often then not you won't get the project you want even at a new company you join with a raise.
    Heck you may not even see what you worked on until the game goes gold in most case, with everything behind a wall of secrecy.

    Is that a bad thing? Certainly not, however its the way a lot of AAA companies work since its profitable from a marketing perspective. Its the corporate machine at work.

    And as far as you're concerned, your work experience gained working in this machine is what HR at other companies do jump onto, since its considered a safer bet. Not to say it works out that way with every candidate.
    Heck even HR doesn't stay with the company that long, regardless of how much they preach that its the best company in the world when they are actually working there.

    But you're looking for a first job, so instead of scrapping everything and burning yourself out trying to hit a ceiling that likely doesn't exist in the same perspective for every company, look at your progress as an opportunity to learn, and become aware of other industries that require 3D art (like architecture visualization) and would likely give you a better work life balance then games ever will.

    Of course if you have a game company in mind that you want to work towards, you should try to hit their style as much as possible, while also showcasing how you got there.
    And network, meaning approach artists working there to get some perspective on your work. Read glassdoor since most artists are terrified of speaking publicly about their experience/NDA's prevent them from doing so. 

    The game development industry is more entertainment industry then art industry, so it operates purely from a marketing perspective.
    Some companies have demonstrated that they are above this limitation and really do push the bar on what they create, evolving the industry as a whole. And more importantly don't treat their employees like cattle.
     So that is a good direction to grow in, if you have the inclination and ambition, not that its the only means towards happiness, fulfilment and satisfaction.
     
    I'd say as an artist you ought to learn everything you can about the skill and then make your own niche.
    All the artists, who are known for more than just which company they worked for, operate in this fashion (Vitaly Bulgarov comes to mind)

    As far as moving to Orlando and living in a shoe box while attempting to get work, probably not the best idea but some people do it.
    Really depends on the lifestyle your after, and the compromises you want to make. 

    If you live in an expensive city this is difficult, so I'm not sure if its worth it.
    This forum thread elaborates on that quite well
    https://polycount.com/discussion/210976/the-heavy-toll-of-making-games-in-the-san-francisco-bay-area

  • Barbarian
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    Barbarian polycounter lvl 9
    You are now in the process of learning valuable lessons that were not taught in college. You spent four years in college and are just now learning that your portfolio is not "good enough." You are in debt. Your degree has no bearing on your chances of getting a job in this field.  You "were not taught" skills that you now realize that you need to know. You did not receive realistic critique in school. Your school was rated "Top Ten" and now you learn that that has no bearing on your career.

    Refocus. Avoid feeling sorry for yourself and placing blame. There are kernels of good advice posted above. You note that you are "hard working." As Slosh noted, you have a good foundation. Build on it. I agree that Arch Viz might be your best path forward at this point. I also agree with the suggestion above that you leave all your current art behind and focus on getting better. It will be temporarily painful, but it will allow you to grow faster. The way is forward. Welcome to the real world. You will make it if you want to. You can no longer afford to be sensitive. The advice given above is indeed pretty tame. A few years ago at GDC one booth was handing out "Harden the Fuck Up!" wrist bands.

    I wish I had $5 for every college graduate that was shocked that they can't find a decent job after graduating. Many before you have faced this same test. Everyone that has made it paid their dues.  And lastly, I am only responding because I also believe that you have a good foundation upon which to build success.

    P.S. I will add that I have many dozens of folders of artwork that are "above average" that had to go "into the bin" in order to move forward. I imagine that many others can claim the same. Follow our lead.
  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    Barbarian said:
    Everyone that has made it paid their dues.  
    That's something I can never wrap my head around. What exactly is "made it" in this our industry? Every artist seems to have their own perspective in the matter and I know several that didn't pay a dime to get their foot in the door.

    Several of the ones at the top started when the industry was young and many of them really don't know better when it comes to current gen. And when it comes to improving working conditions it really is quite dismal. 
    This isn't the military, heck it doesn't even pay like it.

    For some its never enough and a good many simply settle for a job and then bite their tongues about about the actual reality of what they've signed up for.

    And the most interesting thing that strikes me is that several of the top companies endorse the very schools that pump out students with substandard portfolios and then make them fight it out for internships. Why isn't anyone talking about that?


  • Barbarian
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    Barbarian polycounter lvl 9
    "Paying your dues" is not about money (per your note about several that didn't pay a dime to get their foot in the door). It is an expression about the self-development journey required to earn what you desire. "Made it", in the context that I'm using it, is in reference to the OP's desire to get a job in the "gaming" industry. To rephrase the sentence that you quoted; "If you want to get a job in the gaming industry then you will have to work harder to improve your skills so that you create a portfolio that will get you the job that you desire."

    I'm not sure that I agree with you about the ones at the top don't know better when it comes to current gen. You cannot "make it in" and merely rest on your laurels. Perhaps the "old timers" know more than you give us credit for.


  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    Barbarian said:
    "Paying your dues" is not about money (per your note about several that didn't pay a dime to get their foot in the door). It is an expression about the self-development journey required to earn what you desire. "Made it", in the context that I'm using it, is in reference to the OP's desire to get a job in the "gaming" industry. To rephrase the sentence that you quoted; "If you want to get a job in the gaming industry then you will have to work harder to improve your skills so that you create a portfolio that will get you the job that you desire."

    I'm not sure that I agree with you about the ones at the top don't know better when it comes to current gen. You cannot "make it in" and merely rest on your laurels. Perhaps the "old timers" know more than you give us credit for.


    I meant that with regards to self development, some clearly didn't show it atleast as far as portfolio's went but were hired anyway.
    So they probably made it but it isn't very clear how big a part the portfolio actually played, there were several variables.

    Also I'm not too young myself, but takes all kinds atleast from my experience.
  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher high dynamic range
    this post from kieran goodson really hammers the quality bar you should be aiming for, every one of the example images is a junior that got hired in 2019, thats your current competition for jobs and the bar they are hitting and one that makes it easy for employers to say yes to your work . https://www.artstation.com/kierangoodson/blog/yGMy/job-winning-environment-art-of-2019

    becca also has a good example post here with a ton of examples, not just environment: https://www.patreon.com/posts/entry-level-27248731

     looking at your portfolio, your work is not at a high enough level yet, its getting there but you need to put out some new work and audit some of the older work from school from your portfolio. 

    some things to consider/feedback:
    look at your princess leia ship scene and compare it to the same levels in battlefront 2 campaign with that white ship interior art set and see where you could push it closer in quality to that level. that is the PS4/current gen quality, and next gen is right around the corner where things are going to get even better looking, do whatever you can to close that gap.

    the mortal kombat scene: this I think is your strongest piece, but the modeling on a  lot of things is super basic. like the hole in the ceiling is just a straight cut out and extruded hole. there should be hanging rebar, a lot more polygons and chunks of concrete hanging etc. the level of detail is not up to current gen standards on a lot of your modeling, spend more time adding detail and form, don't be afraid to use polygons. one of the biggest junior mistakes I see is not using enough geometry because they are afraid of things being too highpoly. go look at some of the wireframes from uncharted on anthony vaccaros portfolio, lots of polys to use there. https://www.artstation.com/artwork/ZEDNX

    overall you just need to keep making more environments and more importantly compare them to screenshots and footage of current games and try to close the quality gap. you could easily go back and re-vamp the star wars and MK scenes with some more polish and they would be in a good state. don't give up :)
  • tahakitan
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    tahakitan polycounter lvl 5
    Ignoring you portfolio, I think your biggest problem is your location. Most people who get hired are in the local area. If you want to work in the entertainment industry than your only choice is EA which is not a bad company for work for. But even then, you don't live in the local area of Orlando which doesn't help you again. You need to move in the area where the jobs are which can be hard.  I understand the struggle, I went to Orlando for school.

    You should start aiming for 3d artist jobs in the simulation industry in Orlando Research Parkway near UCF.  This will help you with money. They have alot of jobs available for training and simulation work.  The jobs pay better than entertainment and are alot safer in terms on layoffs.  The hours are alot better also.  They are 8 hour shifts. Some examples of companies that hire 3D artists are places such as Lockeed Martin, etc... the portfolio quality tobe hired is alot lower than entertainment  industry also.   While working there, if you still want to go to entertainment sector than you can work on your portfolio, make contacts, and safe money while getting some experience as an artist.

    I worked a year in a simulation company before getting my first job in entertainment industry.  It was worth it and it helped pay the bills when I was needing money. You can easily find alot of positions online.  

    You most likely won't find a job remote because you don't have enough experience and you are to big of a risk for companies.  I work remote freelance as a 3D character artist and that is with companies/people who I have worked with in the past or people who know my work and are confident I can give them what they want.   looking at your portfolio and work history, I don't see alot of remote work coming to you anytime soon.

    If you can't get an apartment to stay than you have to get creative.  There are alot of other options, Crash with a friend in Orlando, split an apartment with a bunch of people near the University,  Pay for a dirt cheap room in someones house monthly, etc...  I have done all these things to save money and get on my feet.  I have even seen someone turned there van into a bedroom and get a $10 gym membership to take showers and get wifi.  It you really want it, you'll find a way.  You might just need to sacrifice a few things in terms of comfort.

    sorry for the typos and sentence errors.
  • Zi0
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    Zi0 greentooth
    Barbarian said:
    You are now in the process of learning valuable lessons that were not taught in college. You spent four years in college and are just now learning that your portfolio is not "good enough." You are in debt. Your degree has no bearing on your chances of getting a job in this field.  You "were not taught" skills that you now realize that you need to know. You did not receive realistic critique in school. Your school was rated "Top Ten" and now you learn that that has no bearing on your career.

    This is very true, game schools aren't good at preparing people for the industry. Awards that you get at school don't have any value most of the time, I made stuff at school that I got awards for as well but I would never put it in my portfolio because I know its not that good, its quite bad actually. Companies are aware of the fact that game/3d schools produce graduates with below average portfolios and they get a lot of portfolios on a daily basis.
    My advice: drop everything from the portfolio and plan to spend two more years study/practicing. Apply for jobs in meantime if you want to but don't hold your breath.
    So I had the same problem once, I would apply and no one would respond. This meant that I just wasn't good enough so I kept working on improving my skill set and produce new stuff. A while later I would apply again and I finally got responses although most were negative and and got one job interview that I didn't pass because there was a better candidate. This meant that I still wasn't there yet but I was getting closer, I repeated the process and kept improving and eventually I applied again and this time I had three interviews and a couple of art test, I passed one of the tests and got my first job in AAA.

    Choose a specialization and work on becoming very good at it, like people mentioned above you already have a foundation. Look up amazing art on artstation and do your best to hit the same quality level. Although its hard don't think about that bachelor too much, I have one too and and so do a lot of my friends that I graduated with. During interviews recruiters/devs would never even bring up my education and only focus on my portfolio and skill set.

  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    Zi0 said:


    This is very true, game schools aren't good at preparing people for the industry. Awards that you get at school don't have any value most of the time, I made stuff at school that I got awards for as well but I would never put it in my portfolio because I know its not that good, its quite bad actually. Companies are aware of the fact that game/3d schools produce graduates with below average portfolios and they get a lot of portfolios on a daily basis.


    A situation I noticed several times, was that students that graduated with what according to people here qualify as below average portfolios did get work at studios that were partnered with the schools through an arrangement which allowed them to hire graduating students as interns.

    What's interesting here is that even if their portfolio was say Horizon Zero Dawn quality, the work these studios actually gave them in studio wasn't even close to that quality or responsibility.

    So in that sense, getting an accolade in the school helped I think, probably to stand out, though there were several other factors that applied that had nothing to do with portfolio or quality of work.

    Even with a great portfolio unless they had prior work experience from another studio very rarely would they even get looked at, unless they knew someone on the inside.

    The irony is that the actual work assigned to them on the job didn't really take into account their prior work experience particularly for game art, since literally their task was layout and clean up which continues to this day. Character artists were making boots and belts on a character team, or apologising body scans. 
    For environment artists it was selecting from an asset library and laying out to match a white box. All the textures were supplied for consistency, so very rarely is anything actually built from scratch.
    Most of the props were either reused, modified or outsourced.
    If outsourced they came with a fat lot of issues that required clean up.
    Basically very little to nothing in the job description matched what was actually done in studio. 

    The one skillset that probably was more required than any other was versatility more than specialisation, something that a lot of juniors lacked severely, I mean how can they have it if they haven't explored different styles/processes.

    Its why , while I understand that as an artist its always important to keep developing ones skill and eye, the reality of the job seems so disconnected from what is expected of a portfolio atleast for the majority of studios that are hiring juniors and interns.
    It also affects employee retention since the artists that are actually good aren't getting to reach the full potential of what they are capable of. 

    Also as I said these schools were endorsed/supported by the very companies who I expect ought to be aware of their graduates producing below average portfolios?
    Many of the teachers teaching at the school had jobs in the companies that endorsed the schools. 
    Some of the teachers even have side businesses to help graduating students with their porfolios after they graduate, which is fine aside from the fact that there is seriously something wrong when those same teachers cannot manage to have their students hit that quality bar while in school.

    Quite bizarre really.
  • Taylor Brown
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    Taylor Brown sublime tool
    Agree 100% with poopipe. This line, "learn technical details, you learn to follow direction and you learn what not to do", completely encapsulates my work experience so far and I'm a better artist and team mate for it even if I don't get to tackle the big hero props or major scene work.
  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    poopipe said:
    You get the menial jobs as a graduate because you haven't proved that you can do the big ones yet. 
    It's pretty straightforward, really - a studio doesn't hire a graduate because they can do the grown up jobs, they hire them because they think they'll be able to do the grown up  jobs in the future. 

    Hard as it may be to countenance, polishing up outsourced assets is one of the fastest ways to gain real, practical experience in terms of preparing game assets - it's also precisely what is completely missing from any course you may have done.   
    You learn technical details, you learn to follow direction and you learn what not to do. A couple of years of that and you're on a whole different level. 

    I've looked after a lot of grads over the years and the ones that do best are the ones who  embrace their role in the team and leave their egos back at college. 


    So basically you become a good little cog in the wheel? I'm certain its great for a company but hopefully it has a positive effect on the employee as well.
    The best people I've seen have left their companies for exactly this reason since they have no room to grow beyond what they were assigned. 
    They never had the chance to do a grown up job especially in art since honestly there weren't any at the studio they were at to begin with.

    In fact they were encouraged to gtfo and then come back for a better pay packet and more responsibility, if there is such a thing in the future.
    Not an easy choice for everyone and honestly it doesn't need to be this way, look at IT jobs.

    The issue here is that there is no consistency in this regard across all studios. 
    Like what is a menial job is vs a big job, how many of those jobs are outsourced because its cheaper, how regularly are these jobs available to the artists in studio.etc
    By menial job do you mean like repetitive tasks with strict assignments, and with grown up jobs do you mean a consulting sort of process where your creative input takes priority.
    Because with the latter, difficult to dismiss the potential of an artist simply because they are "graduates"

    In my graduating class for instance, the best graduates interestingly did not get into AAA despite having the better portfolios, but that did not stop them from doing the best for themselves in the long term.
    Wouldn't they have been more useful to a AAA company with the mindset that they could do the grown up jobs in the future?

    Why were the hires graduates that were willing to do the dull repetitive tasks that hopefully might lead to something better and are willing to work themselves to death to prove themselves?
    Why is their skill level now beholden to a levelling up system decided by the company which isn't transparent in its evaluation?

    Doesn't it come down to the company and its management in this regard? What about profitability, budget and work place politics?
    As artists, its important to understand your self worth, not just how much you're worth to a company that is short sighted.

    And how many jobs actually exist. There clearly is more supply than demand and nothing stops the most incompetant artists with abysmal portfolios from flooding HR with applications.
     How many the better artists are lost in this flood simply because of this aspect? 
    In that case does your portfolio even have an impact if no one has seen it? 


    One situation I am well aware of is, graduates with proven portfolios not getting the opportunity to do a big job and are leaving the studio as a result.
    or people with proven track records being let go since the graduate is cheaper.
    or the final product being full of mistakes regardless of who the hell is working on it, and QA having to bug it and send it back to get fixed by someone else entirely.
    They don't tell you about any of this in game dev school. The actual skills you need are totally different from the ones you develop to make a "good" portfolio.

    And to the point of polishing outsource assets, if that is really the best way to gain experience and I totally agree with that having done my fair share, why is that not the focus of a portfolio when starting out? 
    Why does the job description have a generic copy paste that isn't actually what you end up doing once you get the job?

    It seems that recruiters/ leads/ art directors are all looking at totally different things and in many cases it really comes down to who you know/timing and dumb luck.

    Not to say its pointless to keep improving your work, its just that there certainly is a lot of disparity in what actually gets someone hired in the first place. Its difficult to see the correlation across the board.
    Unless of course you're convinced that the portfolio is all that matters, then there probably isn't a lot more to say. 

    In that sense its a different sort of ego where instead of being convinced that you are right and they are wrong, you've accepted that you are wrong and they are right when honestly no one actually knows what the hell is going on.

    There are best practices sure, but I can see how it can be insanely confusing for people trying to get their first job when most of the advice here points straight to AAA as a benchmark.


  • Zi0
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    Zi0 greentooth
    poopipe said:
    polishing up outsourced assets is one of the fastest ways to gain real, practical experience in terms of preparing game assets
    @poopipe So true, I learned a ton from doing this in a very short amount of time.
  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    poopipe said:
    I don't deny its confusing. 
    That's because as a graduate you don't know shit yet - fortunately you have access to the opinions and thoughts of quite a lot of experienced people on here to help you through it. 

    Re ego/cogs. 

    Full scale games are not made by one person. They are made by a group of people working as a team and hard as it may be to hear the contribution of a single, average artist is a very. very small part of that. 
    The last game I shipped had over 3500 individual props in it (half the prop count of the last major FPS I worked on)
    How many of those do you think you could make in an 18 month dev cycle? (I'll give you a clue - it's less than 2% and you had help ) 
    On a big AAA production that individual % contribution drops dramatically. 

    If you're in this game for glory  you're doing it wrong

    As far as work quality goes, 

    Great portfolio work demonstrates your potential to produce great actual work -it doesn't guarantee you will be able to do it consistently or to spec - the people hiring you know this and will be using their experience to determine whether you're worth bringing on board or not. 

    Something I feel I should say is that really you're wasting your time over analysing the situation - until you are in a position to be making hiring decisions, you will not fully understand the decision making process. 

    If you read through all the related threads on here you'll see the same advice repeated over and over - a lot of this advice comes from people with experience you don't have and while some of it may be conflicting it's an accurate  reflection of the environment you're trying to get into.   Read, listen and use your judgement.


    It's good wine this,  apologies :) 
    But that's exactly the situation isn't it, there is little to no consistency across the hiring process.
    There are many factors, as you listed that influence the hiring process, and in most cases you don't hear a studio pointing out that you fell short because of your portfolio.
    I've seen my fair share of no reply, late reply, studio liquidation, artest and no feedback, disappearing positions.etc, all of which point to a serious problem on the management side of things which most artists generally accept is something they can't change.

    Also I'm not a recent graduate, I've been doing 3D art for several years now following my career in healthcare.
    Currently work wise I prefer having a wider range of responsibilities within smaller teams and I get more opportunities on the freelance side of things where I have more control.
     I am more interested on working in AAA in some aspects of the pipeline where I can certainly contribute a lot, and the specialised nature of this should make the hiring process straightforward but it clearly isn't the case.

    In that sense I am very aware of how things work on the hiring side of things for that environment and I have done my research in the matter before commenting here.

    I've found that the usual trend here is to respond to a job question with "this is what you need to do to get into AAA" and while this advice is considered best practice, the vast disparity in who's hired for what and when makes it seem like we as artists are putting studios on a pedestal that they really do not deserve.

    From what I know from my colleagues who work in AAA and are terrified to speak out, though each studio projects itself as the absolute best in the business (because of the marketing aspect of the entertainment industry) the reality for employees is pretty dismal.
     I mean isn't that why you and many others remain anonymous here on this site. it certainly isn't a good sign if the industry has devolved to this level of paranoia.

    And this is why its so unstable, and I understand why many have accepted this as the nature of the work, but it certainly doesn't need to be that way going forward.




  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor polycount lvl 666

    I like to fuss about ills of society probably more than anybody, but at some point you do have to be practical. If you want to play on the football team, you got to play football, right?

    I mean if you think the game is stupid and it's being played wrong, the only way to really do anything is become team captain. Then you'll have the power to make a difference. The only way to lead is by example. So if showing people how to run a company the right way is your passion, it probably means you got to sneak inside on a Trojan Horse to get to where you need to go right?

    I've worked for a lot shitty people. Many of them were so awful that if I thought I could get away with it, I'd kill them in a bad way. Anybody who thinks humans are basically good should be thankful they've lived a sheltered life. Humans are the worst animals by a long shot.

    Anyway, from now on, I am the boss. It's that or I live in the woods. Literally. When I am the boss, people are treated with actual respect. Then they know what right is supposed to look like. But I put up with a lot of shit for a long time before I got to where I can do this.

    Most people, even if they do everything right, will never be able to have much agency. And for many, they wouldn't want it anyway. All kinds of personality types and many just want to follow the leader. Let people play their game and you can play your own. The problems of the game industry aren't unique. And dumb as they are, it could be millions times worse. THe kind of silly stuff people complain about in games industry is like, any random Monday in the military. And that's todays "kinder gentler army."

    Yes, people are being exploited and there is no reason anybody should work more than eight hours when there is no life threatening emergency. But also people are pathetically soft and it's kind of pitiful to hear all the whining too. Like, you all are complaining about the same shit. Do something!

    So the corporate world is full of assholes preying on dumb kids. And dumb kids growing into bigger assholes, further pushing new dumb kids into breaking their backs to deliver crack cocaine to the slathering masses. All for a momentary distraction from own our stupid, self-imposed prison. It could all be fixed in a single generation, but it never will be. The quickest way to fix it all is to catalyze destruction. That's why I'll be voting Trump for life. :)

    You can still make games, make art, and have the time of your life. Focus you energy there. Take care of number one.


  • sacboi
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    sacboi sublime tool
    JustMKollum you're located in a games/tech hotspot, take full advantage of that by actioning those points you'd highlighted up thread. Start small, build tool/workflow competency by posting stuff for critique then iterate again and again until such time you've gained a confident pipeline and asset generation familiarity, end to end,

    Anyways won't be an easy ride but then again most endevours never are, if one thinks it's worthwhile investing ALOT of passion, perseverance, time and effort to begin with.

    Lastly, just one more thing, keep a sense of humour, in other words bassically have fun with what you're doing, tends too iron flat those lumpy bits which will inevitably poke through the road as you progress toward an envisioned end goal.
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