One of the pleasures of PAX 2011 was getting my portfolio reviewed by the artists of ArenaNet.  This was actually important enough to me that I was willing to miss the “Pitch Your Game Idea” contest.  I can’t remember the last time I was so thoroughly eviscerated, or the last time I felt such joy from negative comments.

I was pleased that he asked for a few comments from me before digging into the portfolio.  This gave context to what I do, and helped to set the tone for what I wanted from him.  Basically, I was looking for an overall review of my composition.  he commented that he had never seen anything like what I was doing, so he wasn’t sure how valuable it would be for me.  With that stage set, he tore into me.

The three major points that he hit on were:

Lighting:  A lot of my lighting is boring, and needs to be improved.  Many of my images looked really flat from a lighting perspective.  Even if the content or idea being presented in the image is strong, it has no value if the image itself is weak.

Poses for faces:  Most of my faces tend to have that Barbie doll look (see the above image for a great example of what he was talking about).  This is a mixture of (1) a misguided desire on my part to establish that look, (2) a limitation of the software, and (3) laziness on my part.  If you’ve been following my entries lately, you’ve probably noticed a lot more expressive faces.  This was intentional; I’m trying to heed this advice very closely.

Post-production:  I need to be willing to do more post production.  While the goal of making images stereoscopic is important, it should not be the sole focus, especially if I want people to notice my 2D work. BE WILLING to paint things if photoshop, if necessary.

I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, but I now have a better picture of where I am going.