What's in YOUR portfolio?

Something our latest featured job listing caught my eye:

“Irrespective of experience, it’s the portfolio we’re interested in.”

I love that we work in an industry that is primarily driven not by your school pedigree or resume, but portfolios; we live and die by our craft proficiency, not our status. I get asked a lot what my company looks for in portfolios, but today I wanted to flip that around: what do you look to include in YOUR portfolio, that’s your highest aspiration of expression? This could be 100% personally driven, or geared toward what studios expect from you.

Also, for anyone looking to work remote with a small, highly talented team, I recommend checking out this job in particular. They’re working on a pretty gorgeous title called Raji: An Ancient Epic (screenshot above). Here’s the job link, with a pretty sweet trailer:



Same stuff I was told to my first time talking to an FX artist:
Several different elemental effects (water, fire, etc.)
explosion (interchangeable with something complex that has more layers of detail than an average effect)
magic effect (or something unique from your imagination)

Now I’d also add in something that is technically complex, most likely a unique shader accompanied by blueprint or scripting set up to drive it.

Match all of the above with either a) my best work regardless of the game, or b) matching a studio’s style


I don’t know yet. It is still being written. Still, as ever, a work in progress. Is love of a craft a boon or a burden? That’s a trick question! Things can be both! I want to love my demo reel, yet the things that really excite me require… alot of technical know-how. Alot of technical know-how. I’m the guy who sneaks into the “restricted section” to read forbidden knowledge. Doesn’t mean I’ll understand it, but I’ll try. Again. And Again. And Again. And Again. … (Sorry about the spiders Australia ._.)


In the past, and in fact I think it was one of my very first posts here, I asked about “Demo Reel Scope”. My mindset, filled with enthusiasm (so you know it’s definitely me), was rigid from mistakes made from presumption of patterns. Still a creature of the environment I once inhabited. I wanted to know how BIG my demo reel “should be”. I thought there was a difference between a Demo Reel for Juniors vs those from Seniors. All in all, there isn’t. Yea there are knowledge gaps, and far more shipped games and such, but… such is life. Good work is good work, be it a small dust impact or some Alembic fluid sim with a multi-stage shader that interpolates some vector motion blended spawned procedural … compounding technical whoda-hada. :stuck_out_tongue:

Good work is good work. Knowing the difference is 50% of the reel right off the bat, though those numbers can very. Naughty Dogs take may be diffrent then Obsidian, or Bioware, or CD Red. What? You thought it was going to be simple? Some paint by numbers? And why oh why am I suddenly talking in the second person point of view!?!

At the heart of it all, It doesn’t matter WHAT it is. Chances are a person knows what they would like to make, and where (or what) they would like to work on.

All that is to say; What’s in my portfolio? Hopefully, its stuff I loved to make, and will love to show. And then… and then I think the rest will work its self out. If you get hired from stuff you loved to make, in theory, it will be where you work as well. :smile:

Hi! This is an interesting topic to me because when I was in school I was taught that portfolios have a strict formula and everyone had to follow them. I went to a school where game fx was never given a thought. No one had graduated my program (Game art and Design) and went into FX straight on and I didn’t either. So I never understood how to build an FX portfolio out of the gate. I ended up with a half completed reel of a small environment with a few effects thrown in and you could see it in unity in real time. I got a job with that.

After my first job as a production artist, I realized that I should focus my portfolio towards things I like to do. I know I like to hand animate 2D fx so I threw a lot of that into my portfolio. I also loved writing shaders, so I would show off my best shaders in action along with a breakdown on how it could be fully utilized. I loved the tech and logic that went on behind the scenes, I ended up doing the same effect three different ways to show that I can think of more than just one route to get to a product.

I’ve had the luxury to never really have to cater towards a specific studio or felt pressured to change my style. I think this is what got me my current position.

I got hired for exactly what I love doing and that’s the most I could ask for. I’m still relatively new in the industry (2 years) so I may not have as much experience as my peers, but I’ve failed enough to know what works and what doesn’t.

I think if you’re a student that is unsure of what you want to do, just do a large range of effects and have that breadth be your foundations. Then focus on what you want to do as you go. Employers can definitely see the passion that goes into work.