Tips And Guides To Creating An Outstanding Portfolio

There are few shortcuts, but with the right use of time and control of content, you can avoid detours and produce a high-quality portfolio quickly. What are the fresh grad tips for producing a stunning portfolio for a beginner? Serval portfolio tips and student hacks will be accordingly discussed in the next paragraphs. 

1. Make A Perceptual Plan 

Let’s start with the most important one: never rush to start, but make a project plan. You ought to first think about your reality: what are you good at doing? For example, sports products, home products or electronic products. Then, you need to consider what design you are not good at? For example, if you are not good at making structures, then put your efforts into concepts and portfolio ideas to build on your strengths and avoid your weaknesses; if you are not good at electronic products, then use other categories instead. Lastly, you may have to mull over what projects and what portfolio tools go together to make up the best portfolio.

2. Set Up Your Ultimate Goal Of Making The Portfolio

As a fresh graduate, you may have different objectives of making a portfolio, ranging from the domain of academics to work. If the goal is to become a graduate student or continue your study, the portfolio should be more academic and creative in nature. The project work should not be too simple, for instance, just designing a cup shape or something, and instead, you should show the tutor that you are a student with a spirit of research. Different schools have different preferences for portfolio styles, but basically, they like projects that are conceptual, creative and have humanistic significance. It is best to apply to a portfolio agency and make a portfolio specifically for the school you are applying to.

Alternatively, if your goal is to become a designer who can bring benefits to the company, the portfolio ideas should show a skilled design approach and a commercial-oriented design style. It’s not that academic concepts are frowned upon, but designs that are too wild and lacking in real-world thinking can be a mark-off. The best approach is to highlight both creativity and professionalism. 

3. Select Your Works For The Portfolio Design 

First, take out a piece of paper and write down the titles of all the assignments, competitions and exercises you have done over the years at university. Don’t worry about the quality and finish of your work yet. Then, give each one a score for beauty, creativity and finish it. Next, Using different coloured pens, categorise these works. The categories can be industrial design, interaction design, UI design, graphic design, etc. Some works may involve more than one category, for example, “a brand’s television controlled by mobile app” may involve industrial design, interactive design and UI design at the same time. Once this has been collated, it is clearer which pieces are available for selection in the portfolio. 

4. Select A Major Project Of The Portfolio 

The portfolio tips of its projected selection can be guided in the following procedures. Select 2-4 pieces for the main portfolio project, depending on the category and purpose of the portfolio previously selected. The selection is guided by the following principles:

 (1) Related to the category of the portfolio: for example, the main project of the industrial design portfolio should not be a pure UI design project. But you can have a comprehensive project involving industrial design. 

(2) Useful for portfolio purposes: for example, a portfolio used for exam review should have a project of a certain complexity and relevance. To be more specific, an ordinary flask cup design that only considers the appearance of the shape, and another flask cup design that takes into account the human and psychological factors and helps hospital patients to drink lukewarm water, the latter is, of course, more suitable for the portfolio.

5. Add Supplementary, Detailed Items In Your Portfolio 

This is the most time-consuming and important part of the project. As projects are selected from the usual design assignments, there may be a lack of quality or an incomplete design process. You may have to add to and refine each piece, filling in the flow, filling in the details, optimising the renderings. If you are still not satisfied with what you have done, you may have to redo your portfolio but luckily, you have already had such portfolio designing experience, that would be much easier to create your portfolio than before. 

6. Typesetting Your Portfolio As The Final Stage 

There are several elements that must be considered before typesetting. You have to consider the layout of your portfolio Horizontal or vertical, screen size or bleed size and colour mode (RGB or CMYK). The portfolio tip here is that you may have to refer to good magazines and portfolio layouts when designing your layout. At the end of the portfolio, you can add some supplementary work, which does not have to be the same type of work as the portfolio, to demonstrate a wide range of abilities. Be careful not to make the supplementary work too large. One layout is the equivalent of designing a new piece.

7. Demonstrate Your Professionalism 

In fact, in many art and design disciplines, examiners look at the aesthetic ability of the typography as a reflection of professional ability in addition to the content of the project. For example, in disciplines such as graphic design, animation and illustration, it may not just be a matter of expressing your message clearly enough to make your project stand out. Rather, you need to be able to convey your message artistically, in a way that allows the examiner to see, through the typography, the message you want to focus on and the feelings of the author of the work. In short, the most important thing in a portfolio with a lot of artistic expressions is to be visually rich and well-organised. For those with less artistic expression, such as industrial and architectural disciplines, clarity of layout is more important than good looks. The emphasis in this type of professional typography is on a complete and clear representation of the entire design process. When typographically designing the entire sequential structure so that the images are as coherent as possible, try using large and small half-pages. 

In a nutshell, the key to making a portfolio is to highlight your personal style and strengths, and around this centre, you are free to explore various ways of expression.

Geng Yibin
Geng Yibin
student at UCSI University, currently doing internship in digital marketing

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