Sunday, January 24, 2010

How to Prepare an Online Portfolio

Are you confused about what to put on an online portfolio or don't know how to prepare for one? I will try to answer some of your questions here:
Why have an online portfolio? Ok, so you've been securely working in your corporate environment as a graphic designer. But for some reason, maybe it's the hard hit economy, maybe you're getting bored, problems with coworkers or on the job and you feel it is time to move on. At some point, hopefully before you take action to leave the job, you should put your artwork on a website. The same goes for students who are recently graduating. The world has become very visual and wants to see your work. With a website, you can show them, anyone who you direct your site to and who come across it in a search. Perhaps you're an illustrator and your client is in another state or country, you will need a way to show him/her your portfolio that is fast and easy for them in order to get that new job.

Select your best and most favorite works and organize them in a presentable manner and order. The viewer should get a sense of flow when looking at your online book. It would be best to categorize the selections. Here are some technical tips:

To do so, you should be collecting tearsheets or printed samples as soon as they are published. This is an ongoing practice that you should get used to doing. I like to collect 3 clean complete copies or tearsheets. Scan your work at 300 dpi (in case you decide to print them for your promotionals) then reduce the image to 150 dpi when you Save As under the File menu using Adobe Photoshop. I know the web displays at 72 dpi, but I've uploaded some works at this higher resolution and it actually looks better. Working in 72 dpi does not render results as good, when uploading, the web will automatically adjust.  If needed go back and sharpen using the Unsharp Mask filter. Adjust accordingly to what looks close to the printed piece or the original art. You can also lighten the image under the IMAGE menu, go to Adjustments, check the Levels manually first, then use Curves to lighten/darken overall image by pulling the curve back and forth. You can also adjust by color by using any of those controls under Adjustments. Then save again when it looks right. You should save the file in RGB (color mode) as a JPEG at High or Maximum. I like 9 or 10. Title it in a way where you can remember what it is in an abbreviated format but begin with your intials. It should look like yourinitials.title.jpg
Now, if you have the final digital file at hand such as a pdf, jpg or tiff, then that saves you all the trouble to scan it. To create pdfs, you can use Adobe Acrobat, InDesign or Photoshop. I think Illustrator does it also. The final digital file is ready to be uploaded. All this goes the same for illustrators, except when scanning original art, you may want to do it at 600 dpi for print reproduction then save down in another file. When making giclees yourself or selling to a licensee, you will want to scan at this hi-res.

Websites (free) that you may want to subscribe to (You DO NOT need to know html coding for these): For designers try: and Both of these are easy to upload, just follow directions on the site. NOTE: Most portfolio sites do ask for a thumbnail of the design. Preferably, you want to zoom in on a 80px x 80px section of that work. The site will give you their own specs. This is the highlighted area that viewers will see first. Illustrators can also use Another good site is that offers 5 free images or up to 20 images in a PAID portfolio. See an example at my design site in my first Website Portfolio posting. Creativeshake can be used by illustrators and fine artists as well. You can upload jpgs, gifs and even Flash files to show every page in printed pieces like in a booklet - in slideshow format.

Websites (paid): There are many of these. To name a few for designers and illustrators alike: Serbin Communications offers website templates that you can use without too much difficulty or build a custom site from it.  You will need to sign a contract with Serbin and build it on  They also offer design services for any custom requests.

For illustrators: there is also The Directory of Illustration website which is included in your PAID advertisement in the book they put out. American Illustration does one also. I've used both these books when looking for an illustrator when I worked as an Art Director. Easy upload where no html coding is needed. However, they are the most costly way to advertise and have online presence. Ads and a website can run you about $2,000 per page. Other sites exist for specifically contemporary illustration - all which you can find in a Google search. You can find almost anything these days in a Google search.

Custom Site: Then of course, you can build your own using Adobe Dreamweaver, Photoshop and even Flash for displaying slideshows or for animations. I can offer tips on preparing your PSD files in layers, however beyond creating the graphics for a website, I cannot post information on using DW or FL, as I am not trained to be a web developer. Maybe someone else would like to post information from all their years of education and experience? Your contributions to this blog as greatly appreciated. You can post through comments.

If you can't develop your own site, then try building one with templates on for free. Hosting through wix may also be available for free. Or you can pay to register a domain and host through

However, anyone wanting to post a weblink or images on this blog, please email me all your info offline to

So, what's your hesitation on putting up a website, now? It is really a necessity these days when on a job hunt as most employers want the fastest and easiest way to look at your artwork. Alot of art directors and studio managers do not call you in for a portfolio interview before looking at something first anymore. It's also very effective for getting work from new potential clients. Continue to send out postcard promos and be prepared to understand when an art director has no time for an interview, especially if he or she is across the country or in another town - that goes for freelancers.



  1. One free portfolio website that a lot of graphic designers use is Coroflot (

    However, using Blogger as a portfolio website has a lot of advantages that the other sites do not. Labeling your work in your posts will come up in a google search engine search. You have a greater chance of someone surfing into your blogger area than someone finding you on Coroflot, DesignerID and so on.

    I've gotten jobs from my blogger portfolio because someone was searching for kendo information. They liked my work. I created 2 websites for this client, business cards, and sell-sheets. They routinely use me. I've never gotten work through my DesignRelated portfolio, however, it is the portfolio site I use when showing potential clients my work.

    Blogger allows you to upload large images. The preview on the page is smaller and contained, but if you click the image, it will launch into another page with the image quite large. That can be advantageous if you want to show more detail. DesignRelated has limitations on the overall size you can show which can limit impact upon the initial viewing. Of course, putting up large images on Blogger (or any site) can mean someone taking the image and using it elsewhere, without permission of course. That is always a concern of illustration clients of mine when presenting their portfolio.

    I haven't used my blogger area in a while and I suspect it's time to update it with some recent work. You never know who is surfing and who will find your work which could result in a job!

    Thanks for the great post!

  2. I can recommend and excellent and simple to use web design application, Freeway from Softpress. It is easy to learn and no programming is required.

  3. A note on Blog portfolios, you can also use a blog page link in an email for a campaign blast to your mailing list. This is a cheaper, faster and easier way of doing PR or marketing. Clovia