Creating a Portfolio

Right now I'm going to focus on the more obvious art professions, but this applies for pretty much most of the artistic industry. What industry you want to get into determines what you should put into a portfolio.

Basically you want to put in about twenty-five pieces, but no more than thirty. You should start with a strong piece, something that best reflects your skill. Make sure that your strongest piece is a finished work, as that will be the piece that sticks in your reviewer’s mind the longest.

Also make sure all your pieces are marked with your name and address.

The Comic Book Industry

For this industry, your portfolio should reflect the position you want most: inking, pencilling, or coloring. Because most people want to do penciling, that’s what we'll look at.

  1. Use your own original characters. Because it’s not a good idea to show a Marvel character drawing to someone at DC.
  2. Take it easy on the splash pages. Yes, they are very impressive and are pieces to be drooled over, but don't compose your entire portfolio of splash pages.
  3. Put more emphasis on your storytelling ability, rather then impressive angles. Ever read a book that looks terrific but has no point? Yeah. Have your friends make up mini-stories, and practice illustrating them. Show the different stages of your work as well.
  4. Make copies! Never send in your original art. If you do, and somebody loses’re pretty much screwed. Besides, you'll want to apply to a lot of different companies.
  5. Go to conventions! Bring your art, show it to as many people as possible. Try to market yourself!

More on this subject can be found at Wizard School!

The Animation Industry

I've gone to a lot of different sources for information, from e-mail chats with recruiters for Disney Feature Animation and Star Toons to going to schools like CalArts to find out what they’re looking for.

There are two level of animation; regular animation that you’ll find on TV, and the high standard animation that places such as the American Disney and Dreamworks studios demand.

Applying and being accepted into a good animation school can be just as difficult as applying for an actual animating *job*(Especially in America). So you can’t get away with sketching out a handful cartoons, shoving them into an envelope and expect to get into a school. Start preparing now.

If you can, attempt to meet the Florida and California Disney animation standards. Since those standards are the highest around, if you can meet them, you’re guaranteed to find a job pretty much anywhere.

  1. Again, only send copies of your work. Places like Disney like to review all the portfolios sent to them and sometimes send them back again with helpful comments. However, they sometimes also like to scribble those comments right on the actual pictures. So yeah, only send copies.
  2. Have no more than two or three cartoon-style pieces. And make sure they’re your own original creations. Companies like Disney and Warner Bros. (to name a few) don’t want to see their own characters in your portfolio, as that violates copyright.
  3. Life Drawing! This is practically required. Most studios will want to see pieces of this, as it demonstrates your ability with facial expressions, hand gestures, body movement, etc. So make it a point to learn and become good at it.
    And just so you know, a small sketchbook of just hand drawings would be considered one piece in your portfolio.
  4. Show your pieces at all levels of completion. Studios want the different stages of your work, from roughs, to cleaned up inked drawings, to completely colored and finished pieces.
  5. Your résumé or, for some places, job application.

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