Career Tips

My Top 5 Portfolio Tips – Art

Do you want to make your art portfolio shine even more than it does today? Next up in our Portfolio Tips series is Lead Environment Artist Jeremiah Estrellado, who has 13 years of experience in the industry and has been mentoring an online art community for the past four years. Check out his 5 top tips on how to improve your art portfolio here!

1. Show us what you are – or what you want to be 

This may sound strange, but it’s important for us as viewers of your portfolio to understand what you are or what you want to be. That’s why it’s good if you show us what you want people to see you as. If you want to be an environment artist, then you should be showing environment art and use strong composition and lighting to help tell a story, for example.

Or, if you want to be a material artist, you should be showing all the materials you can. Maybe take it a step further and work with an environment artist who needs some materials. Build out everything they need, and you might also be able to showcase that environment with the materials in use. If I had to suggest anything to a material artist, it would be to get creative with what you choose to make. Show us what you can solve when you put your head down to the nodes and connect the dots.

And while I am touching the topic of environment artists, I want to say that it is okay to use assets that you can buy or get for free to assist you in building your environment. You don’t need to build every single cup or cardboard box. Focusing your time on assets that show your attention to detail and quality is more important.

2. Show flexibility

It’s very important to show flexibility in your work without compromising the overall direction you want to take your art.

If you want to make games that have a realistic tone to them (and if you’re applying for a job in a project with that tone, like The Division 2), you should focus your visual efforts in that direction. Showing flexibility while sticking to that can come in a variety of flavors. Let’s say you want to stick to this realistic tone but also add some hyper future feelings to it, like a Cyberpunk-like theme for sewers – what does that look like? Making something like that while still making it feel like it’s within the realm of some of your more realistic artwork shows flexibility.

A lot of it is also about consistency within your work, like the size of bevels you use and the way your materials read as light runs across them. If it’s similar in all your scenes, you will follow your overall direction while also showing different ways you can push yourself as an artist to be creative.

3. Focus on your art

Show your tools understanding without hurting your art. Don’t get me wrong – tools are important as they allow us to show what we know and flex from a technical standpoint. Just remember that you are an artist. The reason you should know a tool is because it helps you do something easier or faster. But tools can also get in your way of just being a great artist.

Yes, it’s good to know what Substance Designer is. It is also a good idea to dabble in it to understand the basics and maybe some of the intermediate functions of the tool. This does not mean you need to flood your portfolio with materials showing you know how to use it. The only time that would be the case is if that is what you want to be hired for, like I mentioned in the first tip. This also holds true for Houdini that comes up rather often in the channels I frequent. Know what it is and what the industry is doing with it. You do not necessarily need to know it. Focus on your arts.

 4. Thumbnails matter!

Thumbnails are more important than you might think. When you look at someone’s portfolio, you are usually looking at thumbnails. Those images – while usually square – have a lot to offer the viewers. The question you need to ask yourself regarding these is if the viewer would want to click on them to see more. The viewer should always want to see more of what you have to offer. With that said, I would suggest also adding links to one other piece of yours in of the description.


Finally, blogs can enhance your portfolio. It’s true! It’s always nice to have work in progress art or things you made while trying something out. Having text to support it also rings nice when showing your findings on something you tried out or discovered. Your portfolio should be a place for finished work to show the world. Having a blog can be for everything else. Using something like Art Station, you can also show a finished piece in your portfolio, as well as all the work in progress blog posts within the description as a link.



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