Portfolio Review #2
This time it’s from my guru Dom Byron, who I mentioned in the previous post!
I really like her work, it has a really neat, polished, super-consistent style that’s instantly recognisable. It’s a nice mix of graphic-y and illustrate-y, very shape-based which is really handy to look at for me because I’d like to work like that more, and it’s especially useful to look at for this project, as I’m working with mostly flat colours and recognisable landmarks, so shape plays a major role. It has a lovely collagey cut-out look too, which I really like. I also like the fact that before she imports into Photoshop, she likes to work on squared or dotted paper, which is handy for spacing when it comes to drawing symmetrical shapes, a good tip!
Here is her review (I’ll intersperse it with my own comments instead of putting them at the end):
I’ve had a look at your folio and it’s looking smart so far!
Your work is looking strong already and I imagine will only get better as you get going on your FMP.
The first two digital portraits are nicely done to a high standard and show you can capture the human form really well, I’m jealous!
Your two book covers are again nicely done, and its good to see them with the type on them to give them some context, and shows you can handle your own typography which is a plus. (maybe get rid of the crop marks on the wind in the willows one though?)
Note to self: do that!
I really like your protest poster pieces. They have a lot of depth as well as nice use of lights and darks. The different colours and subtle changes you’ve used in the foregrounds and backgrounds of the doctors/house to show the different people in the same same situation works really well. It’s strong in both concept and execution.
I think the old character designs are good but not as strong as your other digital portraits. Are these old work or new versions of old work? I think people will have more confidence in you if your portfolio shows that your creating brand new work all the time, even if you have to pretend! So if they’re new character designs maybe just have them in as character designs? Don’t have to tell anyone you’ve reworked old designs! See what you think..
They were new revamps of old characters, thanks for bringing to my attention that ‘Old character designs’ could be read pretty ambiguously, I’ll make sure to change the wording and just put ‘character designs’!
Your maned wolf piece is again a really nice portrait and beautifully drawn. You’ve not put a title or description on that one though, add that in when you’ve got time!
Do this too. It’s always surprisingly stressful going through all the pieces and adding titles, logo etc, I guess one slipped through the net!
Overall though I think your work is looking ace!
You’ve got a nice variety of stuff from editorial to books covers and alphabets which are all equally well executed which is good, showing you can work consistently well across media. You have got a couple of slightly different styles going on with the digital painted portraits and the more cartoon style alphabet and editorial illustrations etc., i don’t know if you have a particular favourite way of working?
If so I’d say stick to one and make loads of work in that way, because consistency of style can be really helpful when art directors see your work, just because they then know what they’ll get from you if you’re commissioned! if that makes sense..
I’d say the pieces in the folio that are mostly my preferred way of working are the second piece (the profile portrait) and the second-to-last (the previously mentioned character revamps). I also enjoyed doing the protest piece—the theme I enjoy drawing most has always been character-based stuff. I have just been told a lot that the alphabet piece is one of my strongest, and I agree, but it’s not a way of working, or outcome, that particularly interests me to make, so it’s kinda hard! I have pieces that are strong and pieces I personally like, but they are very different styles. I have a hard time with consistency and I haven’t found my ideal way of working, or a style I’m happy with yet, so hopefully by the time I get my degree I’ll be able to put something together that’s super consistent.
I don’t know what the tutors have advised, (Ian knows loads more than me obviously!) but from advice I’ve been given lately, having a really strong recognisable style is really helpful in making you stand out from the crowd. So whatever way you want to work or type of illustration you want to be doing in the future, the only way to make it a reality, is to find that one type of illustration you really want to do and make a tonne of work, explore it, promote it and don’t give up on it. And if you don’t know yet just keep exploring until you do. (I’m still doing this to some extent!)
If you just love working on different things though maybe think about tailoring your portfolio for different clients, e.g for children’s illustration, for portrait work etc.
I like this idea, of having a few different ‘sets’ of images for different clients, I think it will come in handy if I’m still struggling with consistency problems.
Presentation-wise, your pages are clean and well laid out too so no problems there. I dont know if your sending this pdf out to possible clients or its just a uni thing so far? If so I’d suggest putting in a title page with your name and contact details on so they don’t have to go looking back through emails to find who’s work it is etc. And maybe just test out your pdf on mac’s and pc’s to make sure its easy to open, it was probably just my mac being stupid but better to be safe than sorry!
So far they are just for college, but if at some point during the course I have to send it to potential clients (which I’m sure will happen) I will definitely add a title page and such. I need to play around with creating PDFs much more, so I get more confident with layout and such. And the opening problem was probably on my end, I’ll make sure to give it a tweak and see if I can export it again properly!
This was an awesome review with looots of info and feedback, it was really great to read through. And I’m always looking for ways to improve, and again, any feedback I get from someone in the industry feels really great. Thanks again Dom!