Published on Dec 24, 2019

Concept Art Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

If you aspire to be a game artist, then the concept art portfolio is going to be a huge part, arguably the majority of your application. When different game studios want to see what you can do, they’ll get 95% of their decision-making information from looking at your portfolio and previous work. Thus, it’s important to absolutely nail it. You want whoever looks at your portfolio to be blown away, scrambling to pull up their email to HR saying, “We MUST hire this person!”

So how can you make sure that your concept art portfolio gets you the call back, the interview, the internship, or the game job offer that you want? The first is to make sure you are putting in the right amount of effort – many artists who make it into the games industry spend months and months on their portfolios. I’ll be assuming you are doing that already. Beyond that, there are three keys that can help you please art directors and recruiters looking at your portfolio:

Be Relevant

There is a lot of great art out there. Abstract art, modern art, impressionist painting, and sculpture to name a few. But not all art is applicable to games. Games typically have characters, backgrounds or landscapes to describe the world the characters are in, menus and user-interface designs. Your art should look like it’s for a game, not for an art gallery. Look at the art in games that you enjoy and try to incorporate it into your work. No studio I’ve ever heard of has use for an amazing charcoal artist who can do nothing else.


Only The Best

There’s a phrase in the industry, “Your portfolio is only as good as your worst piece.” And it’s true. You must be ruthless with what you let into your portfolio, if it’s not your absolutely best work, then leave it out. This can require some emotional discipline; often students have pieces that are their favorites, or they spent a long time perfecting, or were one of their early “babies” that they just adore. Cut it. If it’s not amazing, if it’s not your best, then you have to look objectively at the challenge and get rid of it.

Focus, Focus, Focus!

What kind of artist do you want to be? Do you want to do character art? Do you want to do backgrounds and environments? Or do you want to do user interfaces? Maybe animations? The answer to this question should be clear from looking at your portfolio. Enough art students apply to game studios so that the art directors can pick from the best. Let’s imagine they need someone to do characters – do you think they will hire Lindsay, who submitted a portfolio of 1/3 backgrounds, 1/3 UI, and 1/3 characters? Or do you think they’ll pick Carlos, who submitted a portfolio that was 90% characters and 10% backgrounds? The choice is clear.

With some hard work and following the right guidelines, you can develop your skills and your concept art portfolio to be called in for an interview at a game company.

Best of luck,

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