Heber Alvarado is a Senior Character Artist at Bungie with over 10 years of experience in the games industry who has worked on titles such as Destiny, Gears of War and Saints Row. Using the ArtStation Pro website builder, he was easily able to organize his work so that both his professional and personal work is easy to navigate.
If you’re an aspiring character artist, read his interview below for his recommended practices and tips to build your best portfolio.
Besides the artwork itself, what do you think is most important when presenting your portfolio?
There are many things to consider showing when presenting your work. For me, the most important are:
– Range, are you able to work in different styles? (Realistic, stylized, cartoony etc.)
– That you understand your discipline and everything that connects to it. If you can make characters – great! Now, can you pose? Light? Render?
– If you are showing work that was done in a collaboration, credit your peers properly and they will thank and love you for it.
– Showing your process even a little. What I mean is that the final image is important but sometimes it is fun and useful to give people a little glimpse behind the scenes of your thought process, concepts, shots of progress sculpts with some variations etc.
Tell us about one of you most exciting projects.
The highlight of my career so far would have to be getting to work on two great gears games back to back but the first one was the most special for me (gears of war ultimate)
It was the first time I got to try my hand at being a character lead, helping to re-imagine what characters that were created many years ago would look like on a next-gen console was very challenging but rewarding.
For the first time I understood that my job was to not just to help create art but also to help bridge a connection between the character team and lighting, design, art direction, animation, rigging amongst others.
There are many moving components and it was great to finally understand them all, I learned so much in those years from the very talented team (the coalition) and made some great friends over there.
You don’t build a great product by working in a bubble, go talk to your team!
What is the best art advice you’ve ever received?
Three things that have stuck with me throughout the years:
“When you feel that you have learned everything you can somewhere, move on.” As artists, our minds wander and it can feel stale at times and we all have sat around people that seem unhappy or bored with their work. You cannot rob yourself of the amazing things you will learn and how much you will improve by simply challenging yourself and surrounding yourself with new people and a new project.
“We can build anything but not everything.” There is just not enough time to do it all. Pick your focus. What are the most important things you want to show with your work?
“Be critical of your own work.” This one comes naturally to most artists but you should always be pushing yourself to improve. The moment you are content with your art, to me, that is where progress ends. If you can’t see the faults, put it away and look at it in a few months. What do you see now?
What kind of practice do you recommend for improvement in being a character artist?
Never really stop sculpting. Software changes, techniques change but those fundamental skills will carry you forever so investing time there, to me, seems wise.
Develop your imagination. The most talented and successful character artists I know love to always be coming up with concepts, new ideas, styles and even create back stories to their characters. All this stuff helps their characters to feel grounded and believable and that translates to the final piece.
I am guilty of this one but keep yourself up to date with new software as it seems to be everyday someone comes up with a better way to do something. Don’t be afraid to embrace changing technology. If you asked me back when I started, I never thought we would one day not be hand cutting geometry into a cube for hours to end in the hopes that we would eventually end up with something resembling a face.
See more of Heber’s work on his portfolio website. To learn more about ArtStation Pro websites, click here.