How to Create an Artist Portfolio for Game Development

Where to start portfolio composition? How to arrange it? Is the portfolio sufficient when applying to a job position?
How to Create an Artist Portfolio for Game Development - Boost InGame Job

Where to Begin Creating a Portfolio?

  • Analyze the games market and choose your favorite. The stylistic approach of game studios you admire and dream of working for will serve as your guideline when selecting the visual style for your portfolio.
  • Identify trends in the games styles of your chosen studios and assess how your style aligns with what is commonly accepted within those studios.
  • Avoid overly specific and rare styles for your portfolio — doing so will limit the number of studios considering your candidacy. However, the chosen style should be achievable at the moment and align with your preferences.
  • Pay attention to the forms, tones, colors (bright, muted, etc.), textures, and lighting used in the works of artists from your chosen studios. Candidates often fail to analyze and compare references with their own test work, so it’s worth noting, for example, how characters or objects blend with the studio’s game background.
  • Demonstrate the expected skill level in your portfolio. Besides style and other components, don’t forget about the role of requirements outlined in the company’s job posting. This especially applies to the resume preparation stage and when responding to a job posting.
  • Don’t chase after “trendy art” or unusual techniques if they don’t align with your accustomed drawing style and cannot reflect the skills necessary for landing a position in your desired studio. Aim for your works to showcase your creativity and basic artistic skills (such as composition, color, tone, etc.).
How to Create an Artist Portfolio for Game Development - Boost InGame Job

Jelena Kotelova, HR Generalist at Hypercell Games, adds valuable advice:

During portfolio assessment, we not only look at the artwork itself but also at the candidate’s previous work experiences. It’s not about whether there are “good companies” or “bad companies,” but rather about the number of employees in the department working on similar tasks. For example, corporate employees may not be suitable for our positions as they might have different expectations regarding tasks and deadlines.

There are cases where portfolios lack examples from the games industry. When reviewing such portfolios, the question arises: “What position is the person applying for and what do they actually want?” Accompany your portfolio with cover letters, explaining your motivation — it’s important.

Another recommendation: always ensure that the services you provide links to in your portfolio are operational. Sometimes, recruiters may not be able to view anything without registration, and it’s not always feasible to register on such websites just to view one portfolio.

How to Format a Portfolio? Basic Steps and Tips

  • Don’t hesitate to submit works created for projects if they showcase your abilities in the best light. You can always upload works onto a private disk (ideally 10-15 works).
  • Group your works. If you have many, it’s better to categorize different stylistic and thematic works into folders, with names reflecting their content. Concepts, work stages, compositional explorations, color explorations, and smaller-sized arts (e.g., props) can be grouped on one sheet, adding visual design to it. The main thing is for the artworks to match in style and theme and not interfere with each other’s perception. Pay attention to the composition layout and color design; don’t overload the presentation of your works and add captions where necessary.
  • Don’t forget to sign your works. Formatting includes not only color design and distribution but also captions for the works.
  • Indicate the stages of work on each art piece so that the reviewing specialist understands your approach and working method. If there are several concepts, number them. If different artists were involved in the work, indicate which part belongs to you.
  • Attach formatted and interesting search sheets to finished works—sometimes it’s necessary to demonstrate your idea generation process, silhouette or color search, and concept selection.
  • Place your portfolio on websites specifically designed for this purpose, compile works into a folder in cloud storage, or send them in PDF format. If your portfolio is in cloud storage, remember to provide access via a link. Avoid sending archives — only a few will download and view them. Also, it’s not advisable to provide links to an Instagram account as your primary portfolio; it’s better to mention it only as a supplement.
How to Create an Artist Portfolio for Game Development - Boost InGame Job

Is a Portfolio Sufficient When Applying for a Job? Let’s Investigate

A resume and cover letter are mandatory when applying for a job not only on specialized websites but also when applying via email to a company. A resume can provide a broader overview of your professional experience and development, while a cover letter will demonstrate your interest and motivation — why you decided to apply for this position and chose this particular company.

Here are some tips for filling out your resume and cover letter:

  • Include relevant work experiences.
  • You can also mention related fields such as architecture, graphic design, etc. Experience in other areas can be briefly indicated with general terms without going into detail.
  • Mention any relevant courses you’ve taken. Education is indicative of your interest in development and future potential.
How to Create an Artist Portfolio for Game Development - Boost InGame Job

Vladimir Olhovoy, Lead Environment Artist at Eschatology Entertainment, shares with Boost InGame Job his insights into the internal workings: the criteria for evaluating artists in his company and what hiring managers look for.

1. Resume Relevance

We evaluate the alignment of skills with the position requirements. It’s important for key skills to match, though some discrepancies can be overlooked. At this stage, approximately 20–30% of candidates are filtered out.

2 . Work Experience

We assess how well the candidate’s experience matches the level of the position. Flexibility is key here, as people progress differently. We check if the candidate has experience with similar projects to ours (styling, genre, camera, etc.), as such experience is usually the most valuable. At this stage, approximately 10% of candidates are filtered out.

3. Portfolio

This is the most crucial element from the artist’s perspective. We examine the portfolio, looking at publication dates, the quality of works (composition, color, lighting, concept), and their descriptions. Based on presentation and content, it’s important to understand how deeply involved the person was in creating each work. If we don’t read the description — or if it’s absent (which can be a red flag) — we might fall into a trap. Sometimes, complex work is presented as one’s own, even though the candidate only completed 10-15% of it. At this stage, approximately 50% of candidates are filtered out.

4. Interview

During the interview, we pay attention to how the candidate behaves, presents information, and speaks about former colleagues, etc. We ask clarifying questions about technical skills, but it’s also critically important to assess soft skills. Even if a candidate falls slightly short on technical skills but possesses good soft skills, I’m more likely to choose that candidate over someone who is technically perfect but raises questions about soft skills.

5. Conclusion

Based on the evaluation of all points, we decide whether the candidate is suitable for the position or not. It’s important to understand that they will work in a team, so evaluating them as a standalone entity is not advisable. We need to imagine how they will interact within the team and the collective as a whole. If there’s any uncertainty, it’s better to arrange another, less formal interview and invite someone from the team to hear their feedback. Based on our conclusions and feedback from the team member and HR, a decision is made on whether the candidate receives an offer.

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