19 January 2011

"Improve Portfolio's Style" Experiment

So last week, I mentioned that art directors liked my illustrations, but continued to say my art was not in line with the style of their projects.

Here are the questions I asked myself and how I answered them.

Take a good look at my portfolio. Is there something I can cull from it TODAY to instantly make it more appealing to the types of places I'm submitting my portfolio?

First, I viewed my illustrations as thumbnails because I feel that doing so will quickly show the flaws in the portfolio that the art directors see, but I didn't.

Next, I wrote down some things that I felt I could improve upon, change, take out or add in...

I'm left with a more balanced portfolio and this step only took 5 minutes!

Consider the illustrations the companies are already using- how do mine not measure up?

I find that my portfolio says, "I do fantasy and sci-fi work, primarily centred around creatures." I submit to a lot of fantasy and sci-fi companies, so I find the subject matter fits. However, something isn't working, so I decided my portfolio could use more human or humanoid characters to show off the fact that I can do character design.

Style isn't something you can necessarily change overnight, but I do think that a lot of the times when people (even art directors) say "style", they can actually mean subject matter. I think contributing more character-centric pieces to the portfolio will help.

I feel the weaknesses in my current portfolio lay in lighting and contrast. I can tend to go overboard with contrast or the opposite- everything ends up washed out and the image looks too uniform with no definition. Some practice sketch sessions are in order!

Do a piece that isn't a direct copy of the company's already established illustrations, but more closely appeals to their product line and style.

I felt the piece that was probably the weakest was the Mystic Flame Studios Cover illustration. I want to leave it in my portfolio until I am finished with another to replace it as I do like the fact it has a lot of characters in it.

In my replacement piece, I think I will choose to do a small band of fantasy adventurers in an appropriate setting. I want the figures to stand out from the background and to have the right level of contrast- as well as being a dynamic and interesting image overall.

Next week, I will post my work on my portfolio piece. I will continue to pick out the weakest pieces in my portfolio until I've replaced them all. Eventually I will have a whole new portfolio to share with art directors.

Are you following along in the challenge? What are some challenges of reworking your portfolio?

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