Jeremy Cranford AMA & Portfolio Review
Stan Prokopenko
Jeremy Cranford works at Blizzard as Hearthstone Art Manager (former art director WOW TCG and Magic: The Gathering). He will be doing an AMA and portfolio review here in this thread on Friday, June 4 at 12pm PDT. If you want to work as an artist in the entertainment industry this a your chance to get feedback from the person that hires artists! You can start posting now. Write a few sentences about your goals and attach up to 10 images. Or just ask him . . . anything . . .
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Liem Nguyen
Thank you so much for helping us! My name is Liem. I am passionate about creating comic and character designs. Right now, although I am enjoying creating comics, I am not sure if being a comic book artist is suitable for me. I have just posted my first chapter on Facebook, but I think it is too soon to conclude anything. I have attached five pages of my comic and some character design sheet I have created. Again, thank you so much^^
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Tyler Vail
Asked for help
Hello, Cranford I'm a huge Hearthstone fan and have been trying really hard to get my art up to that level and really nailing the style. Any feedback on what I could do better on that front or what you personally really want to see out of people applying to be artists on Hearthstone. And if you were to give me a short outline on what to work on next to really impress you what would it be? Thank you so much, man.
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Asked for help
Hello , My name is Anisul Islam Samir. I'm a 19 year old self taught artist from Dhaka, Banngladesh. I want to work as a character concept artist and illustrator for games or movies in the future. I'm attaching some of my artworks from my portfolio. Any kind of constructive criticisms are welcome. Please let me know how I can be better than I am now to reach my desired goal. Thank you.
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Lukáš Vašut
Asked for help
Hello Jeremy, I hope I'm not too late. My name is Lukas and I would love to work freelance as an illustrator doing art for card games such as MtG and many others. My biggest problem is finding work. I only did one commission so far. If you could please point out something I could get better at my work and maybe how should I approach clients when it comes to applying for a job. I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you for your time, Lukas
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi Lukas! You are one your way. I'd encourage you to work more on different material rendering and make sure you have a variety of edges to your figures. Think about where to put Hard edges, firm, soft, and lost edges). Right now you have the same HARD edge all around the character silhouette. Once you feel you work is at the same level as the current level of art in the m:tg card game email your portfolio to:
Kelly Ramirez
I especially like your 5th image with the wolves! The composition and storytelling is what spoke strongest to me. I'm no professional by any means, still in the student phase, so I'm just rephrasing what I've heard before: "One way to attract clients is to create work as if you are already working for the client of your dreams/ doing the work of your dreams." I've seen people start small independent projects they can get a following from, and this is the perfect time to start creating a zine, small artbook, or card deck and prints to have ready for when conventions open up again. I highly recommend listening to Bobby Chui's The Perfect Bait audiobook, free on youtube!
Alena Kubíková
Hi Jeremy, my name is Alena, I do work as a freelance illustrator, but only a part of it is in (my favourite) fantasy genre - so a lot of works in my current portfolio are either things I do to learn, or other projects. I would love to work on MtG and/or Hearthstone one day, I do love both, but it's somewhat tricky trying to build up portfolio towards both. I'm often wondering whether I should push my style in different directions, or remain somewhat in the middle, just continue learning, improving craft. Any advice on this, or feedback in general, what areas to focus on and work on? Oh by the way, I also did Hearthstone Art Challenge. Included that piece as well. Seeing it now, I know I got unneccessarily 'creative' - making a 'caffeinated muckmurlofrog' - what was I thinking :) Had a lot of fun with it, but I really should have chosen something classic. Can't wait for another contest! Thanks a lot for your time!
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Jiri Kus
Hi, A bit late, but I decided to post my portfolio anyway. I am already working as a freelance illustrator for some smaller companies, but I am not yet at the level of mtg or hearthstone illustrators. I am trying to develop a "hearthstone" portfolio, but my clients usually do not want that kind of style. I attached that corrupted bunny I did for hearthstone illustration challenge, but now I know that the bunny does not really match the style. Hopefully my quilboar is a better match. Right now my style is kind of in the middle, not realistic enough for clients like MTG, and not stylized enough for clients like Hearthstone. Do you think I should push for one way or another? Or stay in the middle? Thanks for taking your time and I will be looking forward for the next Hearthstone Art Competition :) Thanks!
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Daniele Giuntoli
Asked for help
hiii everyone, thank you so much. i'm 28 and i'm graduated in technical concept art, got some experiences in indie game events and took part into a couple of projects as Concept Artist, Asset Artist and 2D artist, i feel like its time trying to get a job or maybe looking for some more interniship opportunities but i m still confused about how to introduce myself to this world. I think i still lack of and artistic identity, i'm mermerized by everything, i really like to experiment and, right now, i dont like to fit into a single artistic style, so i'm trying to figure out if this feature of mine can be helpfull or not for my develpment and, at the same time, can be appealing for a role request. Any feedback would be precious.
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The Asian Sam
Asked for help
Hello Mr. Cranford. I am a student artist and I just starting out 4 years ago. I am learning what’s works and what doesn’t and I don’t have a consistent style yet. I attached some of my favorite characters I drew and I would like to ask you what’s working with my design and drawing so I can focus more on it. I am trying to figure out what I will do in the industry. As a Hearthstone battleground fan I am appreciated your help!
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi Asian Sam! I'm glad you're liking Battlegrounds. You have some nice characters designs but try to show them in a T-pose so we can appreciate the design of the character. Don't show them on black backgrounds and there is not need to pose them. I like falconers (Fana and Rezel) but you are using very realistic proportions. I'd encourage you to push the characterization and exaggerate the proportions more in your characters and move past realism. Research the character designs of Carter Goodrich as an example of what I'm referring to.
Janna van Vliet
Just quick pop in! I wanted to say I really love your colours on the cat-girl character!
Roberto C
Hi! I'm Roberto, I'm 39. Graduated in 2019 in animation and I've been practicing since to become a character designer. I know I started really old and age is a factor against me, but it's something I feel I could be good at professionally. My problem, is that the more I practice, the more I see my work getting weirder (maybe it's not that weird maybe it's a matter of practicing more fundamentals?), I think I don't really fit in the feature and tv animation market, and I'm a bit lost right now. I want to prepare my portfolio and focus on finding work, but not sure where to send it or where my current style would be well received. It's because of this that I can't decide on what ideas or concepts to work on my portfolio and I end up practicing my fundamentals a lot more than creating ideas and I see my goal getting farther and farther away. I definitely feel stuck. Any comments will be greatly appreciated.
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Janna van Vliet
Hi @Roberto C What a wonderful post! I am 36 reschooling myself to get into visdev. So on this part I can relate and just had to comment! Thank you! Regarding the rest of your story. From what I have learned so far from binging the animation industry is that you will need to cater your portfolio. So if you would want to work on family guy you will make a different one than you would for Disney. Some of the personal work you are showing here can still function as a cool addition. You show you can push shapes and have a weird mind. If you can then show how you would add to the company's show I think you will rock! You will bring something new to the table! Like marrying what you can do with what they do! Lightbox2020 had a lot of videos with recruiters, talking about how to get into the industry. You should def link them and show these together with some "married" ones. They can tell you what your next steps would be. I am no professional. As I said, I am still working on that. And this is an excerpt on what I have picked up in the last three years binging the industry. I do hope this helps! And nice work!
Ruth Salmun
Asked for help
Hi Jeremy, Stan, everyone, I honestly don't have a portfolio I can show right now, I'm in the middle of my foundation. I have more of a technical question. I am going to return to my anatomy studies and Im going to take a new render course, but before that I studied viscom but I didn't do enough practice like FZD level. The thing is, I want to be a creature designer and I already have a strong foundation in sketching, perspective, render, I took an environment sketching course, I finished how to draw and how to render and did a few exercises of viscom from FZD by following some students examples (from the internet, I don't study there, Im studying on my own). But I decided that I could move on to anatomy since its more a priority. The thing is, I don't know if this was a good decision, it would help me to get an expert opinion. I feel like right now even though I have a good foundation I'm really lacking in anatomy and need a stronger grasp on digital painting. (I know I also need to learn a lot of design and other stuff, but Im following a curriculum and right now I'm more like mid level). I also have a second question. What happens if you live in Latin America and don't have a 4 years degree, can you still get a job at a foreign country? How is the work visa solved?
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Janna van Vliet
Oh man! I can relate to this problem! I am going through the same thing. Never really knowing for certain when you pick the right topic. I can advice a mentorship, because then you get some guidance. Even if it is just those 30 minutes of Steven Silver? (Never tried him specifically before tho). Regarding your second question I will def hang in with you. My degree is not art related. (I am career switching as it were) and everything I hear about visa just sounds so complicated. Do you follow Toniko Pantoja (YT)? I found his talk on VISA quite enlightening. But it still sounds like quite a hassle!
Stefano Gil
Asked for help
Hey Jeremy, I am Stefano Gil, an Illustrator from São Paulo - Brazil. In the past year I've been working on a portfolio to be part of hearthstone art team, so hear your feedback on it would be awesome!  I am also a huge fan of fun shapes and bright and saturated colors, any word to help me improve this side of my work would be pretty great as well!! Thanks a lot ;)
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi Stefano, good use of color and value grouping. You definitely understand the Hearthstone color pallet. Now I would encourage you to use characters from WOW and Hearthstone and try keeping them "on model" so they look like characters from the game and not "fan art interpretations". Try to remove the outlines, avoid pure black in the background and push the material rendering more. When you're ready send your portfolio to: Good luck, you're well on your way.
Liz Gridley
Asked for help
Hi Jeremy, my name is Liz Gridley, I'm an oil paint artist from Melbourne Australia. If love to ask your opinion of traditional mediums in game design - is there still a place for oil painting in the industry or is digital just so much more efficient? My oil paintings can take from a week to two months to complete and I wonder if pursuing work in games and with larger clients is folly because I might not be able to compete with the speed of amazing digital painters. Should I concede and try my hand at digital?
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Yiming Wu
Holy moly I like the smoky fading background!
Jeremy Cranford
Hi Liz, Nice oil paintings. I have two answers for you. 1. The majority of artist I work with use digital but I do work with and hire oil painters. Look at the work of Brom, Alex Horley, Chris Rahn, Greg Staples and Mike Sass. All of them are oil painters who create paintings for Blizzard and many more working on Magic: the gathering. So yes, there is a place for oil painting in the entertainment industry. That said, I'd get a copy of Corel painter and learn how to paint digitally as it's such a useful tool to quickly make revisions and modifications to your paintings after you scan it or shoot it with photography. 2. All of your work is beautiful but it's really geared toward gallery paintings. Most entertainment properties do no have nudes in the game. So if you wanted to work in the entertainment industry you'd need to start creating illustrations of "costumed characters".
Diego Silva
Hello Jeremy! My name is Diego Gil, I'm a freelance artist based in Brazil. I love fantasy and magical stuff, specially when talking about Blizzard things. Since the beginning, one of the games that most inspired me to work in this area and turn art into my job, was Hearthstone. If you could please take a look at some of my recent pieces and tell me what you think, I would be really glad!
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi Diego! Thanks for your interest in Hearthstone. I really like your shape design and silhouettes of your characters. The area I would focus on in working on your portrait painting skills. Many of your images are too monochromatic. Paint the character with more natural lighting, once that is working then add the spell lighting and a secondary light source. Also, you so should do some more 3 value studies. You don’t want to make solid black grounds like you did behind the metal rats. You’re on your way. Good luck!
Igor Kirdeika
Asked for help
Hello Jeremy. Thank you and Proko for this amazing initiative. I'm a freelancer, aiming first for Environment concept art and props for game industry and secondary in illustrations for Magic The Gathering or legends of the cryprids card Games (not much stylized like heartstone) and pen and paper books or boardgames in general. Any tips you should give for me would be incommensurably helpfull. Questions: 1) For focus purpose I skip characters and sketch process wondering if this is actually better to show in a portfolio believing the final quality is the most important to be showed (I dont know if it's true anyway, if its sketches and process, time, quantity...) 2) Specially for Wizards of the coast MTG, do you have some way to apply the work for them as an illustrator? Thaks a lot for your time!
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Hey good afternoon, My name is Kymani and I don’t exactly have a portfolio but I’ve been drawing consistently for half a year now and could really use any kind of feedback. I understand there are other people with actual portfolios but any critiques would be greatly appreciated.
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Rafael Bueno
Asked for help
Good afternoon from Brazil! My name is Rafael Bueno, I'm 30 years old, currently work as a psychologist, but would love to make a transition to an art job in the next couple of years. My main goal with my art is being able to produce images and work with ideas that are attractive to me someway or another, I've worked with bands and would love to expand that, also I've produced a couple illustrations to vegan brands and done some tattoos. Illustrating books is certainly an experience I would like to have. The thing is.. it's really difficult to keep a steady flow of income doing this. Well, I love art and got a lot of ideas I want to explore, so I'll continue doing this no matter what; any advice or comments on my work, or in general about what I've said are welcomed! Thanks!
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Angela Paul
Asked for help
Hey, I'm Angela and 19 years old. I'm currently studying Animation and Games at a university in Germany. I would like to work as a character designer at some point. I've done childrens book illustration work already and therefore might also enjoy going more into the illustration area. Thanks a lot for this amazing opportunity!
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi Angela, your character designs are looking good. I really like the beard design of the wizard's beard the proportions on the bear are really fun also. Good use of drapery as well. Besides a career in animation you can also consider a career as a character concept artist in the games industry. If you're interested in that I'd encourage you to even more stylization and exaggeration in your characters as that is in demand in the games industry. Good luck!
Luiz Lanzarin
Asked for help
Hey guys! My name is Luiz Lanzarin, I'm a freelance artist from Brazil and I dream on working for Hearthstone specificaly. I'm attaching some samples of my work and would be really greatful if Jeremy could give me some advice on how to get there. Big fan of yours! Thank you!
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Jacob Carson
Asked for help
Hey Jeremy! First of all thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, and thank you Stan and Proko team for the new platform! My Question: What sets you at ease when seeing a good portfolio? I sometimes struggle with adding sketches/ unpolished work to my portfolio over finished illustrations in fear of solidifying myself as an armature. Although I often hear that showing the journey/ thought process is critical in a portfolio. My Goals: I love entertainment, storytelling, and art! Like most of us here, character design and illustration are a huge motivator for my creativity. My short term goal is to find an entry level position as a concept artist within the indie gaming or film industry by any means necessary! This is a major career change for me and I don't want to go back to a job that doesn't allow me to design, create or make art. Thanks again!
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Ahti S.
Hello Jeremy Cranford :) I´m a 19 year old artist from Germany with the big dream to become a professional artist. I´ll attend a university in Switzerland in a few months to study Animation. I´m not quite sure yet what exactly I want to do in the future but I can imagine myself working in the animation industry, working as a freelance artist or illustrating books! There are so many things I am passionate about :) Thank you so much for the opportunity!
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi Ahti, I really your animal paintings. Do you ever watch Aaron Blaise's youtube videos? I think you'll like him. The advice I'd give you is to go to school and learn all of the fundamentals. Find out the things you like and don't like then let the art take you where it wants to. I remember thinking I'd work as an album artist but when I graduated from school there were only CD-roms and then those went away. So you never now what opportunities await but the doors never open if you don't do the required training. Good luck!