Hi, my name is Emanuele I am an environment artist and lecturer assistant for the master's in Game Art. Today, I will explore some keys that will help you improve your portfolio and have more chances to get noticed.
Quality rules over quantity. A portfolio that shows only high-quality artwork will give you more chances to be noticed by recruiters.
You should publish only your best works. A great portfolio doesn’t always have a lot of content. 2 or 3 very well-made environment pieces are better than 8 or 9 mediocre ones. The consistent quality of your works is a must.
Stick with your profession. If you are an Environment Artist, your portfolio should primarily show the skills related to environment creation: modelling, texturing (use of the trim sheet, tileable), world-building, and lighting (I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing how to use lights effectively to present your work).
You can have great skills in more than just one area, like animation or character creation. However, if you are after the job as an Environment Artist, stick to just that - environment. Because showing off these skills in your portfolio confuses the recruiter as to who you are. Including them in your portfolio could hurt more than help.
One Pixel, One Tris More
High-quality models and textures are fundamental. No Faceting or low-res textures! In video game developments, studios are aware of the use of geometry and textures. For portfolios, however, it is okay to add geometry and high texture resolution to make it look amazing.
One of the most confusing aspects is what texture resolution to use or how many polygons that mesh it should have. I like to present my work with 2k or 4k textures, sometimes even tileable, and add some extra geometry to my models without being exceedingly obvious. Polished and detailed environments are what you want to show.
Building your portfolio around the types of games you would like to work on will increase your chances of landing an interview.
Show your flexibility (from realistic to stylized) but try to focus on one style.
Many artists have already published stuff like tileable red brick wall textures, rocks, crates, or barrels. Think outside the box and publish something no one has seen yet.
It can be very hard to come up with original ideas on our own. I usually use other artist’s work: movies, games, real-world references, books, to help me conceive what I want to achieve.
Give it your touch instead of just recreating a photo, or concept art.
Authenticity is about adding a personal touch to your works but remember, if you use any concept or tutorials as an inspiration, don't forget to give credit to those, who inspired you.
Showing your workflow is something that you should always include in your portfolio. It will allow viewers to understand how your creative process works: from concept to tasks and problem-solving.
A time-lapse of your environment from start to finish, showing the steps you did to complete it, is a good start.
You can also include modelling or texture breakdowns to showcase how you created them (Substance, Photoshop, Maya, Zbrush, etc.).
If you created original designs or concepts, you can also show them. Sketches done in photoshop or on paper are a good way to show your creative process and how your original idea developed to the final environment.
However, remember to include it after you have presented your finished artwork.
And last but not least: have fun! Work on projects you love, inspired by the games you love. Remember to enjoy what you do!