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LONG time hobbyist - portfolio review

polycounter lvl 11
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Temppe polycounter lvl 11


I've done a few WIP threads here over the years. But I'll introduce myself again here. I'm Rob, 34, based in the UK. I've been doing 3d art as a hobby for over twenty years - I started at the age of 12 or so making weapons for Quake, then levels for Half LIfe... I experimented over the years with doing film-oriented work (and even tried/failed to make a live action short ten years ago) but ended up back doing real time assets because because in the end, that's what I love doing.

I started off doing hard surface, then busted my balls over a few years studying anatomy and ended up doing some okay characters. Ten years ago I did an undergrad in Product Design partly because at the time I just didn't have the confidence in myself that I would ever do games art as a career... also because there were no games courses in Ireland. Probably a mistake, but anyway. Then last year I finished a Masters in Games Art and Design at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK, during which time I focused more on doing character work.

A few weeks ago I took a hard look at my portfolio and admitted to myself that despite all my effort over the years, my characters just weren't that good and I should focus on hard surface if I want to get a job. I removed some old stuff and separated the rest into albums so I can only show the relevant material to potential employers.

Here is the link to the hard surface (of course feel free to say what you want about the organic stuff too).


So, after two decades doing this and a master's, I still can't get a job. It seems hardly any studio (at least in the UK) is interested in hiring juniors, judging by their careers webpages. I did pass an art test for a studio in Liverpool last summer but have been perpetually waiting for them to get a green light from their client (I last contacted them a few weeks ago) so have given up on that. Is there some aspect of my work that is totally substandard that I'm blisfully unaware of?

I'm at the point where I'm wondering if I should give up pursuing this career, But it's the only thing I've wanted to do since I was a teenager, so that would profoundly suck.

Just to get the ball rolling I've put the following observations about my work:

1) Air Compressor

Too old, renders look bland, needle on the dial should be geo, not textured. I'm not even sure I have the source files for this project at this point, so I might just have to get rid of it if you guys say it sucks.

2) Pedal

This is one is more product viz then games, but I think it shows off some good modeling, so I would be inclined to keep it.

3) TLR-8

High poly count for the scale of the model. Though it does say in the description that this project is a workflow experiment. This is the most recent project.

04) Beretta

Could optimise the polycount on the sides of the grips. Second most recent project.

05) Sheridan

Could optimise the poly count of the panels on the top of the hull at the back and also along the top/side edges. Could relight in MT4 with GI.


Old-ish project but I'm pretty damn proud of this one. Could use a re-render and relight in MT4

07) T-72

Oldest project, not for real-time... maybe I'll just bin it.

I would appreciate any feedback from you cats.


  • Benjammin
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    Benjammin polycounter lvl 5

    Hey Rob,

    As someone who finally broke into game dev in my mid 30's, I empathize. Keep at it, and you'll find your way in.

    Your modelling work is good. I wouldn't worry about obsessively optimizing topology, but instead spend some time polishing textures. The Beretta and the scope thingy show you can get your textures to a good level, but the vehicles are pretty flat (I can tell which smart materials you've used 😉). A tank is a perfect opportunity to go to town on weathering and grunge.

  • sacboi
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    sacboi insane polycounter

    Not much more I can add, except if you'd bumped into this article authored by Evan Herbert?! at some point previously then I'll suggest re-reading it's contents, when as Benjammin mentioned revising your metal texturing approach. So perhaps instead of culling that T-72, maybe a chance exists too resurrect it completely....

    Sword Texturing Tutorial by racer445 - 2011

  • neilberard
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    neilberard polycounter lvl 16

    I agree with the previous comments. I would spend time getting everything to the same level of polish as your Baretta, rather than optimizing geo. For me, it's a massive let down to see a portfolio that is a mixed bag in terms of quality. The more consistent, the better.

  • Temppe
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    Temppe polycounter lvl 11

    Thanks for those insights guys. So it seems that the general opinion is that the texturing/rendering on the old pieces is letting the whole portfolio down.

    I don't have access to my workstation right now because I'm moving, but off the top of my head I'm pretty sure I have the source files for everything but the compressor. Which means I can retexture them. The compressor might have to go then.

    Also one other big difference is that the Sheridan and ATV were rendered before GI was available in Marmoset (and on my hardware!). I think the lighting and presentation is superior as well, which I could redo on the vehicles.

    The T-72 was textured before I had ever heard of Substance Painter - I used Photoshop... talk about old school texturing. I'm not sure how rescuable it is. It uses three 8K texture sets for VRay rendering. When I can (might not be until next week) I'll take a look at the scene and see if I could somehow make it into a real-time cinematic asset or something.

    Also thanks for the link Sacboi, I'll definitely keep what Evan said in mind when I do re-texture these bad bois.

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