Howdy everyone. I am a long time member here and a frequent participant in CHOW and the critique section. A lot of my best art in the last year has come from CHOW and some of you may recognize them
My dream is to do book covers for companies like TOR and Wizards of the Coast. My secondary goal is to do other freelance work for whatever I can find involving fantasy and sci-fi subject matter.
I graduated in 2009 from the Academy of Art University. I have found VERY little work and made very few contacts. I hope to turn that around. Please view my website and tell me if you like my work, but also if you like the way my site works. I have spent a lot of time evolving it and I want it to be right. And would it benefit me/my site if I included a sketches section?
And here are a few to preview:
Last edited by Artfix; August 26th, 2011 at 03:35 AM.
I'm no expert on portfolios so I won't say too much about that, but I think it looks good, keeping in mind that it is geared towards book covers and illustration.
As for your site though, I do have a few comments.
The site is pretty slow for me. Especially the fading in and out of pictures gets pretty tedious pretty fast.
I also got a little confused by your main page. I started out clicking "Digital", then went to see "Oil paintings", and then when I clicked on "Illustration" I got the same page as "Digital" - I hadn't realized that it was actually "Fine Art Oil Paintings" and "Digital Illustration". I'm not sure the different fonts within a heading is a good idea, or maybe it could work if you space things so that it is clear that there are two headings, not four.
The images on the background are loading real slow. The pictures themselves are not loading slowly, but the fading effect when you open / close a picture is annoying. I like the design except for the next / previous / close buttons. They look like from windows media player and dont go with the artsy design. Just an honest critique of your website, best of luck with your work.
I know maybe with mine I went a little overboard with SIMPLE and SHORT, but you've got a lot of work that is really lowering the value of the portfolio as a whole. One such image is here. I think you should cut your images down and simplify your portfolio to less images. As a personal standard (just for an example, not a suggestion) I put eight images up and won't add more until I feel the work is consistent. I've still got pieces I'm replacing before I want to add more. Diluting quality is not good. If you have too much the art director isn't likely to look at it all, and you want to make sure he's looking at what you want him to. What if he clicks only your older/less developed pieces?
I don't mind the two categories, but I was always told to leave out an introduction page. Daarken has many different categories, but starts out on his professional work, for example.
You've got some really great work, man. I just don't think it's all to the level of your greatest, and those that fall short should get dropped in order to offer more view time and interest in the better ones. I know a lot of illustrators and concept artists have huge portfolios, but those guys are all established and have set "looks" and stuff that was developed over years of working commercially. We're little swatted flies, we get a few seconds to entertain a guy who looks at work from people who want to work for him all day. You want your few moments of attention to be the best they possibly can.
My opinion, maybe a little overboard .
- Sgt. Spanky
This is my signature. I worked very hard on it.
Quigleyer Thanks for your opinion! I will try to digest it even tho I disagree on initial reaction lol. The post-apocalyptic one that you linked was left looser on purpose but several people have commented that its too loose. I will tighten that one up because I like it--I'd like to keep it.
What others fall short do you think? I looked over them all carefully and decided I liked them all. I have replaced several already. They are all from the past year except for five which earned praise while I was in school and consistently receive compliments. Those ones are the indian statues, the tribal tracker, the conan barbarian, war of the worlds, and the green alien envionment.
I have read that a portfolio should be 10-12 and I have about 24 right now. But I don't know which ones to keep--I like them all!
And I need the introduction page because my website really needs to be BOTH illustration and fine art separately. I am trying to make a career of them both, and people who like my oil paintings almost always do not like my illustration--thus they need to be separate. Maybe one day I can have a separate website for both, but right now that would only confuse me and make my name more convoluted on the internet.
Sgt Spanky I will be adjusting the fading. The fade is about 1.5 seconds right now and the rest is load time. Its loading while it fades. I added the word loading to the window for the first image opened in case people thought it was stuck. So changing the fade time is not actually going to make it any faster--the images still need to load. The other option is to make all of the images load when the digital page of thumbs is opened instead of one at a time in the viewer. Try using the viewer now on the ones that your computer has cached, and you should see the real fading instead of loading.
Thanks very much for all feedback guys.
Who thinks I should add sketches section to my site OR have a link to my blog which is http://www.trevorsmithart.blogspot.com
What images would everyone recommend cutting from my portfolio/website?
Last edited by Artfix; August 30th, 2011 at 02:33 PM.
Hey man, the ones I would cut are...
I went through your gallery 7 times and these were the ones that I felt didn't quite fit the bill. I'm trying to use the ones you posted up top as examples (because I feel that that's some of your stronger work). Other examples of strong work are:
In my opinion those are like your top works (with the first two posted here).
Your blog would be great to link. You've presented stuff well there, and I think the sketches you're showing are WORTH showing, at least for a period of time, as exists on a blog. I am still against committing to keeping any sketches around to show permanently on your professional website though.
I understand if you don't agree with all of this. I think you and I see eye to about giving and taking advice here on these forums, but opinions are plenty and easy to give . Good luck with this, I'll be checking in every now and then.
You know what Quig, you're right. Let's show my BEST stuff. My other problem is that I have some artwork which suits books, and some that suits games. The ones you recommend cutting I would say are good game concepts except for tell-tale heart. Meh...I don't know what I'm doing. I hate promoting myself. I hate that being good at painting is not enough.
Is the site slow for you at all Quig? You haven't mentioned the fading being too slow?
I am going to make all changes that have been recommended. It will take me some time.
Judging simply from what I get as an "average" for most websites I've seen, 10-14 does seem like good a gap for images to show.
Yeah, the whole promoting yourself thing is such a pain. I feel like I'm too busy painting right now to do it properly, but sending out like one portfolio every day, or maybe every other day, might help you to get kick started. I heard this advice recently, I'm not like a saint about promoting myself, quite the opposite . This is to remind myself, as well!
The fade and stuff earlier was quite a pain (meant to mention that), but the whole issue seems to be fixed. It's going pretty smoothly now, in all honesty.
What do you think about making the box that images appear in always cut to the size of your largest image? That way I could keep my cursor over the next arrow, instead of going to look for it every time the image changes size. I also think you might wanna try to standardize your thumbnail size, but this looks like something you intentionally didn't do, so I'll just bring it up as a thought.
Ok, I should go paint now. Have a good one man!
Hey Artfix- nice looking stuff you have there on your website. It sounds like you and I want to work for the same clients I agree with Quigleyer that some of your work is dragging the rest of it down. I too think you should cut down the number of pieces you have in your portfolio.
I noticed when looking at your portfolio a lot of your figures seem to be the same "distance" from the viewer. You might want to put some pieces in that change things up a little, like zooming in or out on a group of figures inside of some impressive dungeon/palace/city whatever. It's never a bad idea to show off your architectural and perspective skillz.
As for the sketches, Irene Gallo came down to Ringling one year and gave a presentation/lecture on breaking into fantasy/sci-fi illustration, and she talked about what she liked on people's websites and what not. She too said to keep the sketches and preliminary work on something like a blog. Even when the sketches are really nice, she said most art directors aren't going to hire you based off of sketches, at least in the book cover illustration world, and if they're bad then you might screw yourself over.
As for your website, I really don't like the fade in fade out of the images. It gets irritating when you want to look a lot of images quickly.
Thanks a lot guys.
You all are familiar with lightbox right? It is a very common viewer which I based mine on. It resizes to images and fades just like mine. Its is extremely popular. You can see it on Kekei Kotiaki's website for example.
The last thing we could try is using a preloader so you load all of the images when you open the thumbnail page. Then you could view them all quickly...but you will have waited to load all the images which you may not even want to look at.
Here is something additional I could use some feedback on. These are two tearsheets I will be mailing. One for publishers which I have put illustrative images on, and one for game companies, which I have put two game characters and an environment on. I like them but I gotta get these right since its my only contact with these places.
Last edited by Artfix; September 3rd, 2011 at 02:43 AM.
Hey Trevor, as someone who's had a hand in hiring concept artists for a fantasy MMO company I would say the two characters you've chosen to show for the concept sheet are very similar. If I had to guess, they almost look like they're from the same world... they both hanve ragegd clothing blowing in the wind on an older looking guy who's slightly bent over clutching at a weapon. When we looked at portfolios, we're often looking for people who are versatile enough to be able to handle not only the rugged cool masculine subjects, but can you also do, for example, a willowy-looking female adventurer - who has to not look overtly sexy? Or can you do creatures as well? I'd be tempted to replace the pinker of the two conceptws with a character as different as you can make it from the first - even if you keep it within a more fantasy vein (I'm presuming you're sending these to companies who work with fantasy IPs). Also, if I were looking over the environment, it's not bad as an average illustration, but it doesn't show me you can concept environment design all that well, as there's no real environment in it, just creatures and a little rubble! Imagine if that were a key shot for a level design in a game - how would the modellers know what to build - or how to put together other concepts they may already have based on your piece? There's an odd tangent with the creature on the left where it intersects with the building too... could use a little more space!
Hope that's of some help - when you're sending stuff off for potential concept work ahve a think about how easy it is for an art director to read your images and what they could take from them from a game design point of view - if your images are technically competent and have some cool ideas in them, they're likely to grab the eye more than if you've tried to tackle something overly epic and not quite managed it - and form that point of view I think your characters are a little more successful than the environment in the concept case. I actually think your illustration pieces are quite nice, esepcially the ophelia (?? top left) one.
Hope that helps you some, if only from the perspective of someone who's looked through a *lot* of portfolios. If it helps, here's the online portfolios of two artist we hired a while back, and have since gone on to work at Crytek:
Kaija Rudkiewicz - her characters are so simple, yet have bags of personality!
And Silver Saaramael - whose environment design is gorgeous despite not having anything overly epic going on
Hey Zeph. I looked at your sketchbook...very nice stuff. I am especially jealous of the watercolors because that is just my Achilles heel.
I will admit that I don't know what modelers want or need. I never took a visual development class because I have little interest in drawing 10 different types of helmets for a character, etc. I will certainly heed your advice and try to include more variety. Thanks for stopping by!
Ok I replaced the orc with a creature since that certainly seems different. And this other environment has more definite structures instead of rubble. What's everyone think?
Last edited by Artfix; September 4th, 2011 at 06:24 PM.
There are two things that visually bother me when I initially look at your tear sheets. The first has to do with the white background. Given that most of your paintings are done in the darker end of things, I think the white gives it a glaring contrast that kind of makes it hard to focus on your work. Perhaps darkening the white down to more of a mid-tone (with a subtle hint of color that compliments the work being shown).
Secondly, It seems that the work you are pairing together don't really compliment each other. If you could pair images that also had some sort of harmony together (whether that be in color, lighting, composition) you would be able to reel in the viewer at a distance.
I took some time in Photoshop and came up with something that illustrates more of what I mean.
As far as proper format/size, I have no idea what is professionally appropriate; but, I do think it helps showcase your work while getting rid of any/all of the aforementioned distractions. Good luck out there!
Chris Hey thanks, you make a good point. I can't use the combination you did because I need to be sure the book publishers see my good book cover art, and I need to make sure the game studios see my good character/environment art. Anyway, I will find something other than white.
I COULD use a horizontal format but that seems irregular to me. A tear sheet should be vertical like a letter. It will be 8.5x11 just like a letter.
btw guys I have updated my site with your suggestions. Please take another look! I can't make the images load any faster--my friend is looking into a preloader to load all of the images at once when you enter the page--Idk if that will really be any better tho.
Update for the tear sheets. I think the rounded rectangles match the font nicely
Last edited by Artfix; September 16th, 2011 at 02:46 AM.
Love the content, not so crazy about the container. Using a novelty font per title, having different sized text, all of it overlapped on top of images which are not designed to fit people's screen resolution; it really doesn't do you justice. It's important for a portfolio design to be clean and discreet so that it doesn't distract from the art. It's also a bit slow on the loading.
I don't want to discourage you, but have you ever though of saving yourself the hassle and go for an already-made professional portfolio website instead? There's a lot of them out there who let you use your own domain name and have a good deal of customization while offering very nice and clean basic design.
Thanks for your honest feedback. I will try to soak it in.
There are reasons I havn't used a template website. For one thing, theyre all the same and theyre all boring. I like my fonts, and how my thumbnails are different sizes, etc. I thought mine could be more interesting and fun instead of, 'click here to see a grid of thumbs blah'.
It really is a hassle tho. It is extremely time consuming and frustrating. Is there a template website you recommend? I found a place called http://www.squarespace.com/
It looks like it has potential. Anyone else have an opinion on this?
I'm sorry, and you're right, they are boring, but pulling off something original and artsy requires a lot of work and some very solid background in graphic design.
carbonmade, Moonfruit.com and MosaicGlobe I've been told were very flexible, so perhaps you could use their basic design and mix it with some of your original concepts to end up with something that's both clean and representative of yourself?
Thanks Freiheit. I'm sure its no difference to you, so I would rather take your input to improve my site, rather than find a template. So what I have learned from you, is that the fonts are coming off amateurish and I should figure out a way to make the splash page image a vignette so its not so obvious that it does not scale to fit resolution(which is impossible). A vignette similar to what Jason has on his splash page here http://jasonchanart.com/
The problem is that I want to show that I do both oil landscapes, and digital fantasy/sci-fi. I want to pursue both paths and I enjoy both. They both need to be separate but on the same URL. How do I encapsulate that in a tiny vignette? Perhaps...no images...just something graphic(boring )
Whats funny is Jason's site is just a blogspot lol. My envy of him grows daily grrr
You're right, there's no difference how you make your portfolio, it's the results that count (And that friend of your's is very nice to help you out, don't forget to buy him a drink :p). It might be the lack of caffeine in the morning talking, but have you ever though of doing a one page deal? like:
(imagine it was divided properly and your blog address is under your email, your tear sheet's font for your title so that people KNOW instantly the two go together, and a sans-serif type font for your text)
Have you ever seen a professional website that wasn't adjusted to your screen? That's because the design was planned to expend, center and adjust to which ever resolution it's seen in. It has to be made with a background that can go advitam eternam, so a vignette that fades into that background like Jason would definitely be ideal. The background can be a single color, or a pattern that tiles. As for the specific of how it's programmed... I don't know Sorry I can't be of any help with that.
I would really like to be able to access every part of your website from any part of it rather then always going back to your home page.
Editors and graphic designers have one hell of a sharp eye, make sure your spaces are equal, your text is well aligned and boxed in with equal breathing room (it might be the crazy font, but right now, the space between oils and digital looks quite narrower then the other sections).
(and sorry about being such a joykill, I feel bad about being so picky but good design can go a long way... and bad design can be a deal breaker, especially when a client is looking for reason to cut down on applications)
Hey man, thanks a lot. Now let me just clarify. Your drawing is of ONE single page? The entire website fits on one page? I must admit, the simplicity of that is alluring.
I'll tell you why I didn't do that to begin with, but maybe I should be more flexible. I have sold modest oil paintings to people in their 60s and 70s. I hope to continue doing so. They are likely to be turned off by some of my digital work like Rangda, the demon with long tits and long tongue that eats babies lol. I wanted them to be separate career paths because they require entirely different marketing and contacts. But yes I wanted the same URL so I wouldn't have two business cards and get confused all the time, etc.
What I can do, is have a link directly to oil from digital, instead of to main, and then to oil. Is that a fair compromise? I can also include the links to bio, blog, etc all on every page, like most sites have.
I will make the site font match my tear sheet font, good idea.
Thanks again. Your input is invaluable.
Anyone else have any input?
I think you should find a design that keeps everything centralized on the same page. That way, a certain style for your page is established that will develop a visual familiarity to your site, thereby, allowing the work to shine and preventing the site from being a distraction.
To avoid making you read forever, I quickly put this together in Photoshop. I think we can all agree in saying we speak better with pictures. Haha.
Anyways, I took the main elements I saw in your website and compiled what I thought could serve as a solid representation of what I mean. Hope this helps.
Oh yeah, the lit up arrow is meant to symbolize a roll-over icon. Lights up when your mouse goes over it type-deal.
This is really helpful guys. Thanks so much! I am really busy with a new day job and moving so this is on the back burner at the moment unfortunately. I am going to get to it ASAP!
Ok I found some time to mess with this. I came up with these two pages: a new front page with vignette and a grey bordering color which should fit to resolution. And a new digital page which should also have grey background fit to res. I will see about getting the entire site to center in browser but it wasn't working because the image viewer wouldn't center. Lemme know what you guys think plz.
Last edited by Artfix; September 29th, 2011 at 07:21 PM.
I think it looks great!
hey your new concept for your site looks alot better.
and i know this isnt what you were asking but the lightsabre in the girls hand in this pic, is crooked. to be sure i held a ruler to the screen. it bends ever so slightly away from where the handle is.
Thanks everyone for the confirmation! I will try to apply this new layout as soon as I find some time!
Jyoung You know, I think you're right. It looks funny now that I look at it. The handle is curved because thats how sith lightsabers are, but it looks funny still.