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Portfolio feedback and career advice needed.

JavierHR
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JavierHR polycounter lvl 3
Hello there! I have been in this forum for some time but I have never published anything. I hope you can help me.

I am trying to prepare a good portfolio for a 3D props/environment artist position. If you don't mind, I'll say a bit about my career till now. I studied an engineering in product design to later get into an online master's degree in 3D Characters. It was mostly focused on working for the film industry but they taught me the basics. After that I got a job in a real state because I needed the money but had very little time to make 3D stuff and I almost forgot everything. I ended up leaving after a year because I didn't want this knowledge to go to waste after so much time (and money) invested. After that I did an online course in which I learned to do props for videogames in part to remember everything and in part to expand my knowledge.I enjoyed it very much. After that I have had some interviews but they either never got in contact again, said that I was welcome to try again in the future or said that they saw potential in me (seems that I am a jedi) during the interview and never got in contact again. So here I am now. Thank you for bearing with this piece of lore.

This is my portfolio: https://www.artstation.com/javierhr 

And here are my questions:

1.  What do you think about my portfolio? Also, I am learning as I am preparing it but I see myself lacking in the environment part and I don't know if what I have now is hurting my portfolio rather than improving it. 

2. What do you think I need to improve and/or learn to be hireable? I am currently following a tutorial about modular modeling and evironment creation in UE4 and learning to use substance designer.

3. Some studios have got in contact with me saying that "I got the profile that they were looking for and would like to know how much I would charge for a project". All of them were very sparse about what their projects were about and after inquiring for some more info they never replied again. One of them sent me a disclosure agreement and asked me if I would rather work under a contract or as a freelance artist. After signing the DA and replying that I would rather be under a contract, but that I was open to work as a freelance if it was necessary but that before giving them a rate I would need to know what the project was about as I needed to know which programs I would need to use, they never reached out again. So, what do you think I did wrong in theses cases? I really have no clue. I read some of the threads about freelancing, maybe I should have just given them a flat rate and change it afterwards if needed? 

4. Would it be advisable to participate in projects without remuneration to get experience?

5. Anything that helped you or someone you know to land that first job? Any studios that hire entry level artists that you could recommend?

6. There is this studio that sent me a contract, in which there was a final clause that stated that if they considered that I had caused any damage to the company that resulted in them losing money (they were very abstract in this point, which seemed kind of shady) I would have to remunerate what they considered the loses were, up to an absurd quantity. First of all, are all freelance contracts like this one? And secondly, are freelance artists so unprotected? I mean, this is the only contract that I have read for freelance artists, but it seemed like I would have sold my soul if I had signed it.

7. If after reading all of this you think that there is something that I am missing or have any final advice in reference to anything that you think might be useful, by all means, share it with me, it will be very welcomed.


That's all. If there is anything that is better explained in any threads out there, please tell me about them. I have read some of them but some of this things seemed too specific to find an answer in the posts I saw.

I know it is an awful lot of text and that there might be many mistakes (my english is a bit rusty), so thank you for reading!

Replies

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J veteran polycounter
    I think you ought to make the ruins environment look like the reference. The reference is incredible, but your 3d version seems unfinished. Your tree pales in comparison, it looks squat and not majestic like the reference. Adding in a skybox and background is easy to do in Unreal, you can whip that up in a day. If this reference was more faithfully represented in 3d and you really nailed the post work it would be awesome.

    Consider the entire experience of looking at this art. Don't just meet the basic technical needs of 3d art and call it good there. Try to make the viewer say "wow!"


    I wouldn't worry about adding new programs to the skill list at the moment. Just get one of these works looking so pretty that people are going crazy about it. You have enough paints on the palette to work with skill-wise, I think its just a matter of pushing your patience further and not finishing a project until its "there."

    Don't work for free. A man has to have some dignity in life. 

    Don't even bother working for anybody who seems anything less than perfectly professional. There is all sorts of losers in the game development scene who are wasting time. You want to find the winners and to hell with the rest.

    I'd consider the entire portfolio right now to be a first draft. A bit of refinement will make a 100% difference. One area you can get a quick bang for the buck improvement is to work on your post processing. This is pretty easy if you are using Unreal of Marmoset for rendering. Just grab some of the free environments from unreal marketplace and you could even drag/drop their post process volumes into your scene. Evermotion has some nice archviz scenes that have a nice clean, sharp looking post process profile that would help your props and dioramas look more presentable.



  • JavierHR
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    JavierHR polycounter lvl 3
    That was really the best I could do at the time (sadly) but I will take another look at it now that I know how to use UE4. I will take a look at those juicy post process volumes that you mentioned. Thank you very much for the advice!
  • sacboi
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    sacboi polycount lvl 666
    "1.  What do you think about my portfolio? Also, I am learning as I am preparing it but I see myself lacking in the environment part and I don't know if what I have now is hurting my portfolio rather than improving it."

    Your hard surface props (radio - generator) also need a touch of polish, too. Wear and tear especially, I've worked with similar equipment extensively in their real world settings. Therein from my perspective application of grunge / edge wear / rust / dirt - mud...etc is slightly overdone plus in a few areas seems haphazard or implausible to the eye so do bear in mind there's something to said for subtlety. 
  • JavierHR
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    JavierHR polycounter lvl 3
    sacboi said:
    "1.  What do you think about my portfolio? Also, I am learning as I am preparing it but I see myself lacking in the environment part and I don't know if what I have now is hurting my portfolio rather than improving it."

    Your hard surface props (radio - generator) also need a touch of polish, too. Wear and tear especially, I've worked with similar equipment extensively in their real world settings. Therein from my perspective application of grunge / edge wear / rust / dirt - mud...etc is slightly overdone plus in a few areas seems haphazard or implausible to the eye so do bear in mind there's something to said for subtlety. 
    Too much wear and tear then. Noted. I'll be more subtle in future projects and will "repair" these ones. Thank you for the advice!
  • Larry
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    Larry interpolator
    Hey mate, in your case less is more.

    Don't be afraid to have only a few pieces on display. The environments hurt your portfolio. I would have a totally different view on you as an artist if you just had the generator, gramophone, receiver and statue. They look really nice and almost AAA. If you look closely you can see the "procedural" part of it, but that is just a minor thing if you want to keep improving on.


    The environments show that you are far away from experienced. What I did and I still do, and advise you should do as well, try and make a small environment, as simple as you can, with the same texturing quality as your props.


    After that, start focusing on organic shapes. Like, buy that Zbrush subscription and stay on it all day every day. 
    Your ruins environment really undermines your work, the rock texture is not in the correct scale/tiling, your rock meshes seem like there was just a texture slapped on to them, and your foliage is not good. same with the sculpted meshes, not good enough. How much time did you spend on each? You definitely didn't show the same love as you did with the receiver for example


    A general tip I follow is this: The 3d model has to look good by itself without any textures. The sculpt has to look good by itself (Like, you should be able to understand the materials without the texturing) and the texturing has to look good by itself, without the normal map. Only then you will have a really good looking piece. Do not think that "these cavities will look better once i start texturing it. No. Make them look good NOW, with sculpting. 


    Similar thing with Star seeker. Your materials do not have enough contrast, they are monotone and lighting is flat. The colors are not bright and saturated enough for it  to be stylized. I've written a blog post about that, I think you can benefit from it
    https://lazarosinep.wixsite.com/home/post/contrast-drama-gradients-setting-up-a-base-thought-process-for-texturing


    Your material balls are ok, but I wouldn't put them in my portfolio, as your texturing shows through your models, and you are not going for a texturing artist.

    You are on a good track, keep practising! :)

  • JavierHR
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    JavierHR polycounter lvl 3
    Larry said:
    Hey mate, in your case less is more.

    Don't be afraid to have only a few pieces on display. The environments hurt your portfolio. I would have a totally different view on you as an artist if you just had the generator, gramophone, receiver and statue. They look really nice and almost AAA. If you look closely you can see the "procedural" part of it, but that is just a minor thing if you want to keep improving on.


    The environments show that you are far away from experienced. What I did and I still do, and advise you should do as well, try and make a small environment, as simple as you can, with the same texturing quality as your props.


    After that, start focusing on organic shapes. Like, buy that Zbrush subscription and stay on it all day every day. 
    Your ruins environment really undermines your work, the rock texture is not in the correct scale/tiling, your rock meshes seem like there was just a texture slapped on to them, and your foliage is not good. same with the sculpted meshes, not good enough. How much time did you spend on each? You definitely didn't show the same love as you did with the receiver for example


    A general tip I follow is this: The 3d model has to look good by itself without any textures. The sculpt has to look good by itself (Like, you should be able to understand the materials without the texturing) and the texturing has to look good by itself, without the normal map. Only then you will have a really good looking piece. Do not think that "these cavities will look better once i start texturing it. No. Make them look good NOW, with sculpting. 


    Similar thing with Star seeker. Your materials do not have enough contrast, they are monotone and lighting is flat. The colors are not bright and saturated enough for it  to be stylized. I've written a blog post about that, I think you can benefit from it
    https://lazarosinep.wixsite.com/home/post/contrast-drama-gradients-setting-up-a-base-thought-process-for-texturing


    Your material balls are ok, but I wouldn't put them in my portfolio, as your texturing shows through your models, and you are not going for a texturing artist.

    You are on a good track, keep practising! :)

    Thank you for being so thorough!

    I will take those environments away. You are right the ruins and the star seeker are far from good and I should cast them into oblivion until improved. I didn't really know how to work with modular environments at the time but put them in there anyway. Still don't though, but you know, small steps. 
    Also, I like the perspective that you give to materials in that blog entry. Good tips!

    Again, thank you very much!
  • focus_method
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    focus_method polycounter lvl 2
    if i were at your place i would delete "Pripyat azure swimming pool" and "Angel of Grief" statue from portfolio.


  • JavierHR
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    JavierHR polycounter lvl 3
    if i were at your place i would delete "Pripyat azure swimming pool" and "Angel of Grief" statue from portfolio.


    Oh, and why do you think that? Genuely asking for criticism here. I know that the models that I made for the pool aren't the best, I made that one as a way to learn designer and UE4 and made it as optimized as posible with my current knowledge, but why the angel?
  • Larry
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    Larry interpolator

    Quite a few things.
    First of all when you create materials, imagine that a 2k texture is about 2 meters long.
    The leaf materials (or decal?) makes it look flat, remove that.
    Your wall tiles have this dirt patch on the right side that your eye can easily spot, so they look repetitive.
    The wall plaster above it, is ok.
    The rust on the door window and rail bars looks very proceedural, this is not how rust would accumulate. Generally you texture this by hand, and you use the smart masks to get cavities etc. You always need reference of everything, reference of rusty doors, reference of rust in general, just to texture that 1 particular prop. With time you'll get better at this and require less reference.
    Last but not least, your lighting also hurts a bit your scene. If you don't use Nanite, and don't want to buy Hemisphere, here are some tutorial series for that. I liked how he thinks and explains the process.





  • JavierHR
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    JavierHR polycounter lvl 3
    Larry said:

    Quite a few things.
    First of all when you create materials, imagine that a 2k texture is about 2 meters long.
    The leaf materials (or decal?) makes it look flat, remove that.
    Your wall tiles have this dirt patch on the right side that your eye can easily spot, so they look repetitive.
    The wall plaster above it, is ok.
    The rust on the door window and rail bars looks very proceedural, this is not how rust would accumulate. Generally you texture this by hand, and you use the smart masks to get cavities etc. You always need reference of everything, reference of rusty doors, reference of rust in general, just to texture that 1 particular prop. With time you'll get better at this and require less reference.
    Last but not least, your lighting also hurts a bit your scene. If you don't use Nanite, and don't want to buy Hemisphere, here are some tutorial series for that. I liked how he thinks and explains the process.





    Hello Larry! Thank you again for your time.

    All the textures have a texel density of 512 px/m. Looked like it was enough at the time and didn't make my computer implode. I don't remember right now where I took the number from.

    Some leafs are mesh decals, yes. I will change them and take a look at the rest.

    Yeah, lightning is my weakest spot, but I don't want to go with UE5 for now. I will take a close look at those tutorials!

    Again thank you for taking the time to be so thorough! 
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