Opus Artz

I found this documentary on the concept art house Opus Artz, based in London. They’ve worked on high profile games like Infamous 2, Bioshock 2, & Dead Space 2. I’ve run across collective like this before, but it’s always good to keep tabs on the UK based ones. It’s a good benchmark of the kinds of people who’ll compete for high level freelance work. The studio is also surprisingly small for the scope of the work they do, with just 3 permanent staff.


Updating my portfolio

I set up a portfolio using this wordpress blog back in my first year, and have been cycling my more recent work in as I feel it’s merited. I came back to it recently and realized that I’ve just been bumping my older work downwards, and while while best work stays clearly visible at the top there are also some very outdated pieces viewable towards the bottom. I’ve heard the phrase “Your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest piece” and from looking at other artists’ portfolios I definitely agree. My perception of an artist is heavily influenced by what I think of their worst work, it calls their better work into question and raises ugly questions about possible plagiarism. It’s better to have a small body of excellent work than a large mixed bag.

I went through and removed what I felt were the worst offenders. Looking at my portfolio I feel it may be a good idea to move away from wordpress. The layout is very bland, and enlarging images is an unnecessarily complex process. A properly designed website along with a snappier domain name may be a good investment.

Design of the week

Conceptart.org runs a series of weekly contests online. They have several categories: Creature designs, Character designs, Environment designs, Industrial designs, Illustrations, Comic Panels, and a teen only category. There are no prizes and the winners are determined by popular vote, but the site is frequented by many working professionals and winning can be good exposure. Beyond that the contests represent a good means to practice working to briefs and with deadlines. You can potentially also get valuable feedback on your work.

Entering these on a regular basis after college may be a good method of keeping my skills honed while I search for work.

Creating additional work for exhibition

I’m not entirely satisfied with the amount of print work I have prepared for the end of year show. I though I’d attempt an additional illustration in the same universe, showing one of the characters fighting for their first spirit pact. kayen spirit unfinishedMy initial block in. I had a lot of fun with this. After painting the same scenes over and over for long in FMP it was refreshing to not have any restrictions on the composition. I also didn’t use any layers and built things up using a more painterly technique.

kayen spirit copyAfter roughly 2.5 hours I felt I was at a reasonable stopping point.

kayen spirit copy2kayen spirit copy4

Some variations showing the mage’s counter attack. I like the idea of them both inflicting damage simultaneously, but I couldn’t find a way to make it fit the composition.  kayen spirit copy3The ‘final’ painting. As with everything I plan to exhibit I’ll likely come back to this in the next few weeks to add some additional polish.

Networking session

A woman named Trisha came in to give us a talk and some advice on how to network effectively. Some of the points I took away from the session:

  • A handshake is a good way to open. It breaks the ice and shows mutual respect. It can also be a good way to exit when you’re ready to move on.
  • Approach people at all levels, not just potential employers. You never know what you might pick up from people.
  • Condense who you are and what you do down into a “30 second CV” and use that as your conversation starter. Try not to sound indecisive in your phrasing.
  • Don’t overdo the alchohol
  • If you attend an event with friends don’t stay grouped together. It puts people off approaching you and limits who you are able to approach.
  • Prioritize people you really want to talk to and don’t be afraid to hover if they’re already engaged.
  • Try to relax and take deep breaths if you’re nervous about talking
  • Try to recreate a frame of mind in which you feel calm and confident.
  • Research key people you expect to talk to. Ask questions that show that you know something about them already, and try to phrase them in a way that flatters. 
  • Try to ensure every meeting includes an exchange of some sort. Be it leaving them a business card, asking for portfolio feedback, or offering your time in some way.
  • Be concise and don’t be afraid to move on if you don’t feel as though you’re getting anywhere.
  • Take some hand sanitizer. I got sick almost immediately after this talk and blame excessive handshaking as the cause.

Indie game awards

Something I’ve been keeping an eye out for is ways to market a game on a budget. Most indie games can’t rely on word of mouth to carry them to the top Minecraft style. There are plenty of games conventions around, but it’s harder to find ones catering to smaller titles. The independent games festival and it’s associated awards are a good means for indie games to raise exposure. What sets it apart from other similar conventions is that takes place as part of GDC, meaning that there is potential to attract attention from bigger fish not just other indies.