The other day, a recent art school graduate asked me for some tips on assembling his storyboard portfolio. He will be going out to L.A. , and wanted all the help he could get.
After years of looking at portfolios during my commercial days, and being on the review board at Disney* for awhile, and through my own personal mistakes from my own portfolios, I gathered together a short list of guidelines. So if you are also new to the job market, I hope this helps...
First of all, put yourself in the position of the person(s) reviewing your work. They will be very busy with either pressing work to get back to, and/or 25 other portfolios to look at over their lunch hour. I say that to remind you that you have a short opportunity to really wow them. Usually studios gather portfolios and reels and look at them all together. You will rarely get a personal interview without going through this weeding out process.
Keep your portfolio short. 12 - 15 pages max. They will usually see what they need to see in the first 3 or 4. If they don't like it after that, they will move on to the next portfolio. Make sure page one is outstanding! If the first 3 or 4 are good pages, they keep turning to look for consistency. Keep your portfolio small: 8 1/2 x11" to 11x17". Big, unwieldy portfolios frustrate the reviewer. Make it easy to flip through.
If your work is primarily storyboards, I would make sure you do your best to lay them out professionally. Make them look like actual production storyboards. If you don't have a storyboard template, you can download a one at: Animation Meat Then drop your drawings into the panels with Photoshop. For presentation, it would probably be better to use a template with 6 panels, however.
Your entire portfolio doesn't have to be laid out storyboards, but make sure you have a few at least to show you are familiar working in the proper format. In fact, adding a little variety with some individual, non-story sketches will be a good idea. (This paragraph only applies to storyboard submissions).
Prepare up to 20 pages then have a couple of artist friends (or teachers) rate them all. Pick the top dozen. Only put in your best work!
Before you send your portfolio in, check the company's website for their submission requirements. If they suggest including life drawings, include some.
Submissions to TV studios, feature animation studios or commercial studios require different strengths and should be tailored to what they are looking for. You will be competing with hundreds of other graduates and out-of-work artists. Don't give the reviewer an excuse to close your book and go to the next person.
Make sure your name and contact info is on every page. Keep it small, not drawing attention to itself. You need it there on the outside chance your book gets torn up, but more importantly, if the reviewer is impressed with something on page 8, they don't have to turn back to the front or search for your resume to get your name. It keeps the rhythm going.
This is a page from a book I recently put together. I went to the expense of having it printed and coil bound with a vinyl cover (cost about $22 at Kinko's), but that isn't necessary. What matters is the quality of the work and a neat and clean presentation.
Notice the contact info (blurred here for my convenience). Simple and out of the way. Fancy logos with self caricatures on every page do not help. They are annoying and make it look like you are more into yourself than your work. You can do a logo or caricature on the first or last page, but keep it to that. But it is not at all necessary.
You can also include your website or blog or Deviant Art site, but that should be an extra. Don't rely on the internet to open a door.
I hope this helps somebody. Good luck! It's a bumpy road out there!
* Just to clarify, while I was at Disney Feature Animation in Florida, I was honored to spend a few months on the artistic review board. It was a position that was voted on by fellow artists. I had input on internal promotions and helped review hundreds of student portfolios for the intern program. It was a great learning experience.