1. Make a decision on the kind of artist you want to be and have relevant work within the portfolio. For example if you are only interested in 2D stylised work (suitable for handhelds and digital/social games) only have this content.
If you wish to present yourself as an environment artist who can adapt to multiple styles, ensure you have pieces from sci-fi, realistic, fantasy, stylised environments and more to serve as evidence of this ability.
2. Compare the quality of your work to the bar set by games in the market - do your props have the same material quality and fidelity of those seen in triple-A games? How is the work presented?
3. Ensure that your portfolio has work that utilises the latest methods of development. For example most artists should have examples of high poly sculpts as proof they can produce the necessary assets to create suitable materials of in game models. Scripters should show they can produce full action sequences and in game events (rather than just simple door triggers or switches).
4. Only include finished pieces in your portfolio, one WIP model is okay to show but when 50 oer cent is only part modelled and part textured, employers are left with the impression you cannot finish what you start regardless of the quality of what is there.
5. If you have art or level design-based pieces, be sure to show these using one (of many) in game engines that are free to use for personal portfolio work such as CryEngine, UDK and Unity in order to show you have some understanding of the process of getting your art/design from a modelling or design package, through the pipeline and into a commercial engine.
It shows you know how to make and create top quality work within current-gen limitations.
6. If you are producing coding portfolio work, do something smaller that is manageable and something that you can finish.
Be sure to have a complete - and optimised, bug free - piece to show that is relevant to the area you wish to move into (for example a rendering program for graphics or a simple flocking demo for AI). This should also be accompanied with a short description of aims of the program and how to interact with it – plus source code so this can be critiqued.
For many triple-A studios this can help elevate a less senior coder (who can show this) over a more senior coder (who cannot) in being considered for a role.
7. It’s okay to have quick turnaround props and in-game assets, but to stand out, have some elements of the portfolio which are somewhat complex in order to show that you can deal with more challenging aspects of game creation and the height of your ability.
Artists for example could use a couple of high poly environment pieces with many details like gothic architecture.
Animators meanwhile should offer more complex in-game animation cycles like a fighting manoeuvre, and level designers could build a map which uses both open spaces and verticality to show the map has variety and replayability.
8. If you are creating high poly assets, be sure to include its partnering in-game model – along with the process of taking the high poly model and creating the necessary assets for use in-game. The sculpts are great, but employers seeing you can get it into the actual engine is something that will really stand out.
9. Get your portfolio online – sounds simple but not everyone does this and it makes it so easy for a studio to review and critique your work. Make sure it is well laid out, only includes your best work and is easy to read and navigate.
Also make sure the images can be enlarged so they can be reviewed properly. There are many free website creators such as Krop and Wix that you can use.
10. If you do have other skills - such as freehand drawing, lighting or photography - make people aware by including this on the site. While you may have a specialism – these extra skills show employers that you are multi-skilled and could be more adaptable to them in the future should a project require it.