Art Director, Illustrator, Concept Artist and Instructor with 15+ years of experience in game development.
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Lightbox 2021 Portfolio Reviews
Asked for help
Hi, I'm Tyler McGrath. I've been a freelance illustrator for seven years but I've only had small, single-person clients and jobs. I'd like to be hired by a studio (game, animation, or otherwise) or a larger client (businesses and companies) and see some momentum in my career so I don't have to work a day job in a restaurant. I'd love to hear what I can do with my work that can catch people's eye more or help elevate my career. I have a small selection of the illustration work I've done below. Thank you so much!
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Hi Tyler! I saw we had the same first name and thought I’d send a fellow Tyler a review! It’s great that you’ve identified a clear goal for yourself moving forward. The more specific you can be about your career objectives the better. With that in mind, not only do you want to have the field picked out such as games or film, but also consider the clients you want to work with. Do they have a specific style? What medium are they typically publishing? Video game splash art versus illustrations for printed cards will have their own unique challenges. What is consistent among all however is the need to have strong fundamentals such as anatomy, perspective, lighting, composition and design. Splitting your time between studies that target these areas and larger pieces that are stylistically aimed at places you’d like to work for is a good approach in general. Let’s look at the work you’ve presented here and give some thoughts! - The women smoking cigars in the field has some interesting color choices going on. I like that you’ve found an opportunity to have elements in the foreground, mid-ground and background to add depth. There are some anatomy issues here that would be good to keep working on such as the sitting woman’s right knee and the right arm of the woman behind her. Figure drawing will help you improve these areas. Whenever you have humans in an image, the viewer will be very adept at noticing anything that feels a bit off and it becoming a distraction. - The dragon breathing fire has a fun dynamic pose. The depth in this image suffers from values getting a bit muddy and lighting feeling inconsistent. Switch your image to grayscale and you’ll notice how the dragon’s left arm has the same value as the background. You want to use value counter change to help major forms read. Checking grayscale when you’ve moved into the coloring phase of an image is important. Frank Frazetta is an artist that is great to look at for powerful value counter change. - The stylized male portrait is an opportunity to point out how the edges of the frame should not cause your forms to bend so they fit inside. When we do that, it calls attention to the frame and reduces our immersion. It’s similar to how in movies we don’t want to audience to be thinking about the camera operator typically. This piece has a fine art quality to it and it feels out of alignment with your career goals. - The ink environment shows some good line control. The edge of the mountains in the background creates an unfortunate tangent with the palm tree on the left. The slant of the grain silos in the middle feels at odds with the perspective of the rest of the image. - The men lounging together shows a good overall composition layout. The shadows are also working well for the most part. This image could benefit from a more obvious focal point. Choose one of the characters and use color, lighting or detail to make them feel most important. The character in the lower left is the best candidate given their position in the image. - The zombie guitarist shows some nice attention to detail like the toes coming through the shoe. The right arm anatomy needs some adjustment given how pronated the wrist is. When the palm rotates in like in that scenario, the upper arm will naturally rotate as well where the bicep faces inward. I always find it helpful to use my own body as reference. Give your forearm a twist and notice what your upper arm wants to do to accommodate. The biggest takeaway is to focus your portfolio on images that feel more similar to the clients you are looking to work with. Currently, the images feel a bit too varied with some feeling like fine art, some are studies and some very stylized. There’s a lot of great things happening here as well and it’s easy to get focused on the negative. Artists are particularly self-critical but keep working hard and with a targeted approach you can optimize the time you spend practicing! I hope you found the portfolio review helpful and best of luck in your artistic endeavors!
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