Jeremy Cranford AMA & Portfolio Review
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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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Luigi Manese
Asked for help
Hi Jeremy, welcome to the new Proko site! I've been a long time fan of fantasy IPs and its definitely a goal of mine to do card illustration for Magic the Gathering, or do concept work for either Dungeons and Dragons or for Magic. I've been working over the past several years to try to polish my painting technique, and get my work to a style and level of finish that would match what you would find in those previously mentioned IPs. I'm curious if you think my work would fall in line with what WoTC is looking for. Additionally, what do you think is the best way to actually get your portfolio considered for a company that big? I imagine that they get hundreds of portfolios coming in every day, and my work would just get lost by going through the regular application on their site. Thanks for doing this!
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi Luigi, Yes, I think you can do work for WotC but you need to get stronger lighting and better value grouping. Don’t back light your figures. Squint you eyes as you look at these images. Many of the the values in the background are the same as in the figure. In your next paintings try using a value 3 or 4 in the background, a value 5 in the middle ground and use a value 7 or 8 in the figure. It will give your images a solid read. Keep checking the images in black and white too see if your keeping the value groups. If you want the dig more into this search for: Three value compositions on. YouTube.
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Sam Reeves
Hi, Luigi. I have the same goal as you. 👍 I think you have a nice character set here. I like the angles, the lighting, and the concepts. And as far as getting your portfolio reviewed, I am just as curious as you. Clint Cearley said he simply sent them his portfolio.
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Adriaan
Hi i would recommend creating a large image with your art on the one side and your inspiration/aspiration WoTC art on the other side. could also try a single image surrounded by popular WoTC art and see in what way your image stands out as different. might also make it easier for others to help you towards your goals.
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Pierre Fourtina
Hello Jeremy ! I have seen your work before but didn't know it was you ! Respect ! Thank you also for your time for doing this. I am Pierre, I have studied at University in Computer Animation Arts but I decided to specialise myself into Character Design. I really to make a career out of it. Any feedback, any tips, anything would be amazing and appreciated. It feels that passion and hard work is not enough so I would ask, what does it take to get a job ? What do recruiters look at in a portfolio ? Thank you again for your time. Have a wonderful day Keep safe
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Oliziette
holy moly this are all looking so great! I always love these kinds of aesthetics, especially in designing stuff! the characters looks interesting and the poses are on point! goodluck in your career!! I'm so so glad that you got things decided! I really hope for your success!! 💜🌻
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Janna van Vliet
Wow! great work! I also really love your sketchy stuff. Those black on greys are so beautiful!
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Olga Bruser
Hi my name is Olga I love dark fantasy, worlds such as Dark Souls and Diablo especially the art of Diablo 4. In the last 4 years I'm working for a more casual gaming industry and I create stylized cartoon characters and backgrounds and I find Hearthstone art very appealing and I use it as a source for reference and inspiration. Although I like a wide range of styles, my goal is to reach the level required for creating amazing cards such as Magic the Gathering, Hearthstone and Gwent. Thank you for taking the time to look at my work. As for the AMA, I wanted to ask how artists get an assignment both in Hearthstone and Magic. I saw an artist on Artstation who had mostly realistic human illustrations and after he started working for Magic the Gathering, he created creatures as cards and it made me curious how a task is given, if it depends on portfolio or something else. Thank you
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tes_k_a
really love the atmosphere in that 4th pic.
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi Olga, to answer your question, I know there are quite a few artist such as Jesper Ejsing, Chris Rahn, and Jim Nelson who create art for both Hearthstone and M:tG I don't have an exact number off the top of my head. I do know most artist tend to lean one way or the other. Artist who like to paint more realistic characters with a more "filmic" look will do more work with WotC and artist who like more cartoony and stylized character designs will want to work for Hearthstone. There is no right or wrong answer. It's more like do you like coffee or tea. Only you know the answer. I like the art work of Dark Souls and Diablo also. I'd encourage you to make more monster images without such a heavy reliance of black in the background. I think you'll like the results.
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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: artdrop@wizards.com.
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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! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG55UXhEgZs
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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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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!
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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".
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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!
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janndelapaz
Asked for help
Hi Jeremy! I am graduating student, and I enjoy making 2d art. I also started making 3d sculpts recently.  I've been trying to get into the game industry, even as an intern or a junior artist. But my problem is that I just started building my portfolio. Furthermore, I've also recently received some rejection emails, and I am still sad about it.  So, I've been wondering what I should focus on in my portfolio since I like both 3d and 2d art.  But yes, here are some of my works though some of them are just studies.  Hope to hear your feedback soon! Sincerely,  Jann Dela Paz 
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi Jann, Here is the best advice I can give you. 1 You have two big tasks after graduating. One is to find a way to feed yourself and pay your bill to live. The second job is to grow your art skills and improve your portfolio over time. Be kind to yourself if that doesn't happen right away. I think too many artists give up too quickly because their art doesn't monetize right away. If you stick with it, over time it will come. Until the quality of your work grows from student level to professional level you'll get a lot of rejections. We all get rejections all the time in our careers. It's something you have to grow thick skin towards and not let it discourage you. The other important thing I want you to do is to download 2D art and 3D rendered models of assets from the companies you want to work for. Place those images next to your images and pick out some things they are doing better than you at this moment and try to work for that until the art in your portfolio is as good as the art you see produced by the companies you want to work for. It takes time, patience, and a consistent work ethic.
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Anton
Hey, man im not in a position to give you portfolio feedback, but i love the 2d stuff. The whale is very cool my dude. Keep it up!
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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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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.
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Janna van Vliet
Just quick pop in! I wanted to say I really love your colours on the cat-girl character!
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Yiming Wu
Hi Jeremy! Let me just ask a question here: Why do I feel like the industry tend to stick to a safe "defined" look? Like when you see a lot of those images tend to have a certain kind (or a few kinds) of rendering style, you immediately feel like "oh this looks very video game-ish". (Some effects I believe are due to typical graphics limitation but there's certainly a lot of play in terms of visual style. Are artist playing it safe for easy money? TBH this "mass production look" thing is more prominent like here in China, but I don't really see that much of a difference from the rest of the world) I don't really got any stuff that align with "entertainment industry", my pictures are more of a depiction of a scenario rather than a structural thing or concept for games, but I'll slip several mines here anyway, will my kind of image have any use in the field? Also thanks for your time XD
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi Yiming, I understand your question. I have friends that ask the same thing about the music and film industry. The short answer is game companies want to make games that have visual appeal. Just like the music industry wants to make hit songs with appeal. If something is too unique or strange the company worries maybe there will not be a large enough fan base to support the game. That said, I thought games like "Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet" and "Limbo" had very unique art styles. I really like your work. It's very realistic with this wonderful sense of surrealism. I love the image of the man on the paper airplane flying toward the jumbo jet. Great values, good composition, fun storying and nice brush work. I wanted to see this animation. What's happening? Why is he flying toward the plane. Tell more! The image is doing its job with "story telling". Nice work. Keep it up. I see you working in the animation industry one day.
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Hampus
I really like your planes!
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Michael Yang
Hi I'm Michael and I'm still in high school (but soon to be graduating.) I love art but I'm not quite sure what to delve into yet. I have touched bases in a lot of different areas and part of me wants to get good at everything, but I realize I have to specialize in things if I want to work in the industry. Would love to know what you think!
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi Michael, great high-school portfolio. You have a lot of good stuff here. Love the use of colors and value in your boat painting. The frog image feels like it could be a promo image from the Obsidian game "Grounded" or a pre-viz image for a new animated movie. What you need to do now is decide if you want to work in animation, video games or?? You have an illustration portfolio now but you should know the difference between illustration jobs and design/concept art jobs. Feng Zhu does a really good explaining the difference in this youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fPq1AF7v0E&t=2501s Once you're clear on where you want to go with your career create a portfolio with images that demonstrate you can do that job. Good luck!
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Janna van Vliet
I would just keep drawing, and when you find the thing you really really really love doing, specialize in that. I love your boatscene btw. Very cool!
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John Avila
Hi Jeremy I'm really early in this "art" thing. I'm a 16 year old highschool student and would love to be a concept artist in the future like you Jeremy. I would also like to do my own Sci Fi projects on the side. I know there is so much to learn and it could be overwhelming at times, what are things that I must improve on that I'm probably missing, how would you approach on learning them :)
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi John, the paintings are really good. Try not to always have the center of focus be in the middle (where it is on the 3 of your 5 paintings), trying to add a bit more area of focus and have that area look more finished. Go in and clean up the rendering and edges. Right now everything looks "rough" and a bit unfinished. By bringing one area into focus will really help.
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Janna van Vliet
Wow, your work is really cool already! Look into atmospherical perspective, that will give an immediate boost to these! And look into value checking ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K6H2OdBVlE second tip on this video of Marco Bucci vid) that will pop your characters! Really cool work! I wish I had done these when I was 16!
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Yiming Wu
A lot of simon stalenhag vibe in it!! Also love your flat shading!
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litmusik
Asked for help
Hello. I've been practicing drawing fundamentals for 1 year and my goal is to work as a comic artist and eventually write and illustrate my own graphic novels. This year my goal is to make the jump from copying images, to drawing from imagination. All the images I'm posting here are studies of other artists because my drawings from imagination turn out so poorly.
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Jeremy Cranford
Hi Litmuski, That is the trick. Most people with some practice can copy and image but "copying" an image is a good training method is not the same thing as creating art. You'll need to take some classes that cover the foundations of character invention. So you can start with a simple gesture or even stick like figure and pose your character and then build up from there using reference. I think you've copied enough, put that away for awhile and not write some short stories with characters and then create some layouts and start making your own graphic novel now. That will give you the fuel to learn "on the job" when something doesn't look good take an online class on the subject then move on. Having a "live" project to work on is one of the best ways to improve and to have something to show when you're done.
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Ross Cline
These all look great. What do you think is the problem when you try to create from your imagination? It seems like you have a good grasp of light and form. Do you struggle with anatomy? You should show some original art so that other artists can see it and react. It might be scary, but I am sure you would benefit from it.
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Yiming Wu
Oh Damn those comic pencils are lovely!!
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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!
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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: artsubmissions@blizzard.com Good luck, you're well on your way.
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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!
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anisulsamir
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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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!
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Oliver Turner
Asked for help
Hey Jeremy My name is Oliver and I am 19, been drawing and creating for about 2 years now. I'm a first year art student, going into second year for video game art next fall. I'm looking into getting into character and environment concept art. I've been mostly traditional up until a few weeks ago when I started practicing and getting into digital painting, so I am still adjusting to the medium. I guess my biggest question is how does one break into the industry? Every job listing I look at has a minimum of a couple years experience in said industry, so where do I get started? I've put a couple of digital drawings I've done, mostly just practice and getting to grips with it, as well as some of my more traditional drawings. Hope to hear from ya!
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second orc guy
guy
dragon
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aby_graphite
Right now all you need is to build a visual library. Consume the media you one day want to produce, but don't let it be a time waster, you are doing this for exposure and to widen your horizon. As for learning resources Peter has already mentioned most of them. But here are some you can explore: DISCORD: Check if the professionals you are listening to have channel on discord. Trent kaniuga and paintable are two great channels. YouTube : FZD school, Brooks Eggleston, Trent kaniuga, The art of Aaron Blaise, David finch, Dave greco, Marco bucci, Marc Brunet, Mark Crilley, Steven zapata, Ahmed Aldoori, Sinix, Adam duff lucid pixel, bobby chiu, and yan sculpts and follygon. Do check out matt kohr's ctrlpaint.com for digital painting basics. He even has a course on artstation learning which is free for 2021. Artists on YouTube do offer some courses using gumroad, patreon, or their own website. You can get into learning sculpture. Traditional clay sculptures will automatically improve your understanding of anatomy while digital sculpture is a great tool to iterate concepts quickly. You can look into 3d modelling later as a step up and you'll understand it better this way. If you want to do commissions for others, then begin with making a presence on deviant art. Join relevant groups and start accepting commissions for lets say pet portraits for a nominal fee. This should give you the experience of your very first paid gigs. Besides artstation learning gnomon twitch channel is a great resource for past live workshops. I have recently found daisie.com which provides free workshops on various topics via zoom.
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Ross Cline
First off, I really like the energy in these pictures, you have a nice mixture of portrait and action poses. and I especially like the man smoking. I think you could benefit from a deeper understanding of anatomy and how material drapes over forms. Bridgeman is a great place to start for that kind of thing.
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Jeremy Cranford
The most important thing to do when getting hired is creating a solid portfolio that demonstrates a clear understanding of the foundations of art. Right now you have a student looking portfolio. If you want to see the type of jobs and qualifications you will need after school I’d suggest signing up for the Art Station new job listing news letter and always go to the websites of companies you want to work for and look at their job boards. Good luck.
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