Hey Comicker! Sorta an out-of-the-blue question, but I was wondering if you have any tips or recommendations for artists who are just creating a portfolio? I would like to be a story artist/character designer, and I know more or else what I should put in my portfolio but I’m a bit overwhelmed/not sure of where to begin...(sorry for the long question haha XD Been wanting to ask this for a while)
I do have tips! Hopefully helpful tips that will make the task seem a little less overwhelming. :D But, quick disclaimer: I don’t feel…confident? in giving tips on a character design portfolio, so the bulk of this will pertain to story portfolios.
Right then! Tips!
- First and foremost: It sounds like you’ve cleared the first hurdle: knowing what stuff to put in the portfolio. (I’m just gonna review that bit, though, more for my own train of thought, so feel free to skip whatever doesn’t pertain to what you’re looking for!) That will vary, depending on what jobs you specifically want to go after (i.e. wanting to work in film vs. TV) but FOR THE MOST PART, the basic goal is to show that you can one: Draw, and draw well and two: have a range/variety of storytelling skills.
- SO BASICALLY: You want a comedy sequence, an action sequence, and a dramatic/emotional sequence. The sets of boards shouldn’t exceed 150 panels, for the most part.
- NO LIFE DRAWINGS. Observational drawings, yes. But No. Life. Drawings.
- A little bit of design stuff, if you have it. Character sketches and whatnot. You don’t need a ton. Usually a page per story idea is good. Also, SAVE AND DISPLAY YOUR THUMBNAILS. Don’t be like me, a fool who didn’t save my scribbly doodles: thumbnails are good because they show folks what your fast, rough stuff looks like, and how you move from that sketchy stuff to more finished boards.
- Depending on the job, sometimes an animatic is good? But I know that some studios feel that animatics are cheating, because you have stuff like music that informs the storytelling, a bit. You should be able to get the viewer to feel something without the aid of music, SFX, etc.
- So once you’ve decided which pieces to include in your portfolio, now you gotta put ‘em in order. A good rule of thumb, for deciding what goes where:
- 1st piece/set of boards = Should be your ABSOLUTE BEST STUFF
- Last piece/set of boards = Should be your SECOND BEST
- Middle = THIRD BEST
- If you feel that any piece is just…not good, throw it out. Better to have a shorter, REALLY STRONG portfolio than a flabby, watered-down ‘meh’ portfolio.
- Play to your strengths. Don’t force a sensibility if you don’t want that kind of story work.
- Okay, so NOW: you’ve got your pieces, and you’ve figured out your order. What you’ll need next is a place to put it.
- This is pretty…easy? Compared to that other stuff. Most studios are pretty okay w/ whatever platform/site you use for your portfolio, so long as it’s easy to navigate and they can see your stuff. Since we’re currently on tumblr, I’m just gonna throw this out there: if you have a blog dedicated specifically to portfolio stuff, tumblr can work just fine. DON’T mix it with a personal blog or a personal art blog, as that just makes it difficult for people to scroll through your stuff.
- Some folks spring for their own site, which: hey, more power to ya, but I’ve yet to have any difficulty peddling my humble blogspot.
- Just, again: you want something easy to use/look at, so make sure the theme is neat/page layout is uncluttered, and you should be golden.
- Okay, anything else….mmmmm. So, the nature of portfolios is such that, you’ll probably need to assemble more than one, especially depending on what kind of job you’re applying for. Be prepared to update it as necessary, but don’t get too caught up in constantly changing it. Also, I don’t recommend combining portfolios–keep your character design portfolio separate from your story portfolio. Sometimes a generalized portfolio can work? But I’ve found that narrowing the focus is just preferable overall.
- Once your portfolio is assembled: GET FEEDBACK. Show it to folks! That can be helpful in terms of seeing what’s working/what isn’t.
Hope this helped! If you have any other questions, definitely feel free to send them along! :D