Top Frequently Asked Questions About Game Art Portfolio


Portfolio probably is the most important part of an artist’s job application package. A resume doesn’t show one’s experience and skills as clearly as a bunch of selected artworks. That is why candidates are usually concentrated on building a confident portfolio in game art. They struggle with many questions and challenges. And here are the answers to the most common of them.

Where should I post my portfolio?

A good practice is to post it on popular services like ArtStation and Behance. There you can add artwork on a separate page, which makes it more appealing. In case of placing a successful project on Behance, you can get it into the thematic section of the platform. This will strengthen your chance to be contacted by studios and headhunters. Another nice option is Instagram, it is quite popular nowadays as a “showcase” of works.

If for some reason, you don’t want to put your portfolio in the public domain, you should upload your works to Google Drive, share access via the link and send it to recruiters. But in practice, special platforms work better.

What should I add to my portfolio?

General advice is that you build a portfolio based on the tasks and styles that you want to work with. This means that you don’t have to put every single artwork out there. Concentrate on showing your strong sides. The main rule here: quality is more important than quantity. One successful job is much better than a dozen average ones. If cool work is placed next to the “okay but not stellar” one, it blurs the recruiter’s focus and makes them hesitant about your real level. They say “The artist is as good as their worst work is”. Remember this rule when you decide whether to put a specific artwork on your profile or not.

You can also support your final works with their sketches in your portfolio. Show the recruiters how you found your forms, color solutions, and bolsters. It is important and interesting for people in the industry to watch the development of ideas and solutions. It’s also an extra demonstration of their skills and a reason to “get hooked” on something. For example, a sketch may work well in the lines, but a bit of a bump in the final color scheme. A good sketch can be an argument for the recruiter to hire you.

Besides your regular projects, you can also publish graduation works from an art course. This can be especially useful when you want to get a higher position or change your specialization. It also demonstrates how the artist independently applies the acquired knowledge in practice, based on the mentor’s comments.

How many works should I have in my portfolio?

The optimal number to start with is from 10 to 30. If there are less than that, it’s very difficult to evaluate skills, and if there are hundreds of works, you get unfocused and might miss something really interesting. A well-known artist can have at least a million art pieces on their personal page for fans. But if we are talking about the artist’s business card or the presentation they show to studios, they would probably choose a few dozens of best works. 

How often should a portfolio be updated?

Portfolios need to be kept up to date so that you can assess the current skill level more objectively. That’s why at least once every three months it is advisable to post at least a couple of new works. And if there are too many of them, the oldest and least successful ones should be removed.

How do companies work with portfolios?

First of all, they look for strong portfolios with their own eyes. No artificial algorithms will ever work here. Machine intelligence can’t appreciate a work of art, for example, it won’t admire Mona Lisa or see the lightness of Monet’s colors. Only the human eye can see beauty. That’s why talent specialists and art directors go to platforms and search for candidates. 

That’s why portfolios are so important: even without much promotion, sooner or later the best of them will get noticed. Basically, studios are looking for artists to fulfill the specific needs of a project. If it’s a PvP-shooter in realism, then military equipment, realistic weapons and anything else you might need in the game will catch the art director’s eye. 

In other words, the style of the work in the portfolio should resonate with the style of the projects in which you would like to work. If you are interested in two or three areas and have a certain amount of examples for each of them, you can separate them into different folders or profiles. Studios search for candidates by keywords in the tags and descriptions. So it would be nice if each illustration had a tag. 

Usually, the recruiter pays attention to the accuracy of work, contours, and lines, proportions, anatomy of characters, detalisation, and quality of rendering. For example, for casual projects in cartoon style use of clean and bright colors, proper shadows and reflections, elaborate details, and emphasis on rendering will be important. While for hyper-casual direction work with stylized graphics, shape, and again, color.

If you have a specific skill or specialization (e.g., working on match-3 playing field chips, drawing UI), you should definitely show it. Narrow profile artists are often in short supply, and a lot of time is spent on finding them. So if there is something to show, don’t hide it.

The freshness of the work is also important. Headhunters pay attention to the dates when the work was published. The freshest ones help to evaluate the current skill level while the oldest show progress.

Well-positioned frame for the rendering and the quality of the rendering also attract attention, almost at a first sight. This means that it is worth spending time rendering and looking for additional materials on the presentation of the model. For beginners, it would be useful to see a lot of examples of works from different artists and use them as a reference.
Before you are done with your artwork, check how people see it in preview on your ArtStation profile. It should work well in combination with the other works that your potential employer would want to open it and see in detail.


Bad Tips for Failure: For Those Who Want to Take a Wrong Turn in Game Development


Prop Artist: the Role and Identify


How to Get Paid for Your Artwork: Making Your Art Portfolio Work for You