Building my Portfolio

  • @Rich-Green I saw that this morning, it was a lovely surprise to see it on my feed! 🙂

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    This work is very lovely. If you are building your portfolio, character building is a great way to start.

    If I could offer a suggestion, don't use the character design pages as portfolio pages. For your actual 10 portfolio pieces, you need to show story telling, not character design (although that is a part of the process). You can show this development work on your website though.

    I'd say this is a good breakdown for a portfolio:

    1. Show three images from the same story. Try to highlight character interaction and get a sense of emotion and story.

    2. Show 2 images that highlight environment. You can have some characters in there, but make sure the environment is the main thing. Will does this extremely well so poke around his website for inspiration.

    3. For the remaining 5, try to vary the stories and how you show the story. Be specific to the type of work you want to get.

    4. Leave room for text in at least 75% of the work. I typically put the text in there. It shows art directors that you understand the business that we are in.

    5. Have fun! Don't put too much pressure to get 10 perfect images right away. Shoot for painting 20 or 30 and then picking the best 10 out of that.

    When I was leaving school, I did two things for my work that helped get the all important first book deal. I did half my portfolio on classic fairy tales from around the world which was a blast. Then I did the other half doing images from current magazine articles in kids lit (highlights, Spider, Cricket, etc.). This worked well. On my first trip to NY I landed an agent and a book!

    Let me know if you have any questions. : )

  • @Lee-White thanks for the advice lee, I will take it into account!

  • Audrey I think your work is incredible and obviously you are on your way to something special! When you get your 10 portfolio pieces done will you share them here?

  • @Lee-White Wow I wish I had heard all this before now! Going to my first SCBWI regional event in a few weeks and I'm not nearly prepared...

  • @tallison7 oh thanks! of course, I will share them as I go along 😉

  • here's where I am with my illustration.
    there has been great progress, but lord it's SO slow!
    I can't wait to improve to the stage where I can work faster. My portfolio will be ready in 10 years time at that pace 😕
    any feedback on this, while I'm at it?

  • Lovely composition! I like it 🙂


  • Just know that, even if it is (painfully) slow, you are on the right track. I happen to be a pretty slow painter and that's what I have to keep telling myself. Also I have to keep reminding myself that if I don't get up at 5:30am everyday to paint for 1-1.5 hours my portfolio will never ever get done.

    This is very good work!

  • 5.30!
    I'll go crazy if I sleep any less 😃
    I manage to squeeze some time most afternoons. I wish I had more time (story of my life ^^ )
    thanks for the support
    I love your work matt

  • SVS OG

    Sweet illustration! I really like how you depicted that bush the bunny is hiding behind with those variations of blue.

    My suggestion would be to add a more distinct contact shadow where her legs and bum are making contact with the grass. I think it will give more of the illusion of something heavy kind of pressing the grass down. Not that I think she is heavy...

    Also, because I like that blue bush so much, I think it is making the ferns and the leaves in the foreground feel out of place. The intricate linework of the leaves and ferns give it more of a feeling of "exactness" while the bush has more of a feeling of whimsy and playfulness. Hope that kind of makes sense, lol 🙂

  • yes perfect sense 😉 I'll take your suggestions into account when I get to these. thanks!

  • I managed to work a bit on this piece lately, so here's the progression so far

    I still have a lot to do on the vegetation and animals, but getting there...

  • @shinjifujioka I thought about the firm lines versus fuzzy lines of the fern and bush, but the leaves of the trees might give a nice balance to that, so I'll see how it looks when I have done more

  • SVS OG

    @audrey-dowling Actually, I think it's balancing out better now. In the version before, there were darker outlines around the fern leaves which made them look like a different style than the bushes. Since both the bushes and the ferns don't have the dark outline, it feels more unified.

    Your piece is really coming together. Really love that bird in her hair!

  • SVS OG

    Hello Audrey - this is a really nice piece - i especially like your owl! - the thing i wanted to mention critique-wise is that to me the warmth of the background is pulling it forward - i did a super quick paint over - not suggesting this is correct - i picked the color of the tree trunks in the color picker and slid the slider up to blue and sprayed a low opacity airbrush over it - i just wanted to see it with a lower color temperature behind the girl - i think it helps push the background back where it belongs - i know i am not exactly the color guy but what do you think? - 2.jpg

  • @Kevin-Longueil yes definitely!
    I'm not an expert at colours either (yet! 😃 ). I wasn't completely satisfied with that background but wanted to experiment again later. I definitely prefer it that way. thanks for that 😉

  • How about 4 months per illustration for a work pace? ahem...
    And this one is not even finished yet, but I WILL get there 😃 leaves on the top and a fine tuning and done. what do you think?

  • I want to preface that I think your work is great, and that you ARE on the right track. Everyone has given you great advice... this is just one thing I caught in the portraits, because I have used the same style. Which is to use a layer of grunge for the background...

    What I think you did here is apply the grunge AFTER the piece was done, which I hope can still be altered. I think when this is done after the fact, the tendency is to make the piece look muddy. I have marked with red arrows where your whites are disappearing from their brightness. And where your colors are looking more speckly and not adding anything to the piece as a whole.

    Also watch out for applying this effect too dark or opaque. It tends to take away from the surrounding areas.

    Like the side of man's nose and chin, the girl's braid, and parts of the man's coat. This can be avoided if the grunge layer is on it's own layer, so that it can be adjusted. I would turn the opacity down slightly so that the man's face comes forward more. And erase it out of the braid, the coat, the collar, her eyes, and his white shirt...

    I know you meant to do this, but the grunge is overpowering all the other great stuff you did, so much so that I saw it first. Cause it covered up all your great little details, and you don't want that to happen. This is just my opinion. I hope I haven't offended you... I see in your new piece you didn't use grunge at all, and it's full of bright wonderful color.

    But I do get why you did use it for the single pieces, it gives a nice " antique-y " feel to them, like old photographs.


  • Thank you Bobby I will remember your advice for next pieces. However, for these two, it is the effect I was looking for 😉 The grungy background and the details that you have pointed out are 2 different layers, and I purposely used a brush with a lot of texture to paint the characters. Like you said, the "antique-y" feel was what I was after 🙂

    And I think I am finished with this piece too. phew!
    Feel free to critique 🙂

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