How To Create a Portfolio

Getting work as an animator, freelance or otherwise, is only getting tougher. Animation is a hot industry right now so you have to stand out right away and the best way to do so is with a succinct, relevant and top quality portfolio.

Your portfolio is you. It represents who you are as an artist so it needs to contain your very best work and demonstrate your varied skills.

As a company who’s had to sift through hundreds of portfolios in our time, this week we’re coming to the rescue with our best tips for creating an animation portfolio! First off:

Portfolio specifications

  • 30-45 seconds. We tend to lean towards 30, be ruthless with what makes the cut.
  • Simple to navigate. Sometimes Flickr or Deviantart aren’t the speediest of hosts for your demo so use Vimeo, the industry standard.
  • Consisting of multiple short clips. These will keep the viewer’s attention with their momentum and variety, giving you the opportunity to show off the different styles and mediums you’re great at.

Content

  • Drama or acting sections. Something that demonstrates a character displaying emotion or a change from one emotion to another. Humans generally respond more to displays of emotion than other footage.They’re often the easiest parts of an animation to recall which is especially useful when potential clients will be comparing notes on whose demo they liked!
  • Movement. Follow this up with something a bit more technical – some character work showing your understanding of body mechanics, weight, anticipation etc. Something safe like a character picking up a box isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off, get creative and get abstract but keep it technically sound.
  • Character animation. The best way to show your creativity is through your inspired, individual character designs. include a series of quick clips that show how you devised a character or a scene that they’re in if you can
  • Perspective. We like to see clips that show an animator has an eye for accurate perspective. A realistic, technical clip that does this will be a great contrast to the other stylish, cartoony sections.

Include clips that are a combo of your own projects and paid work if you have it. Make sure you show them that your passion for animation is strong enough that you still do it in your free time.

Clients will be more likely to hire you if they can see that you know what it takes when working in a professional studio environment, too.

Music

I can’t overstate how important music can be for your portfolio. It frames animation in the best light, gives you another chance to show off your personality and style, plus the quality of sound production will compliment the overall appearance of your showreel animation. Here are our quick tips for music in your showreel:

  1. Don’t try to impress with your superior music taste, no one cares if you’re the biggest fan of some underground hip-hop instrumental producer, keep it accessible
  2. Go for something upbeat: you want the listener to be uplifted when they watch
  3. No vocals typically. It’s far easier to turn someone off with vocals – why take the risk when you can go for a much less potentially polarising instrumental track?
  4. Choose music that has a precise, predictable beat which you can map to your editing easily

General Tips

Like what everyone should be doing with their CV by putting their most relevant skills and experience front and center, you need to tailor your portfolio to the person you’re sending it to.

For every animation position, the average studio will have to slog through a lot of demos. This means that they’re likely to decide on everything they need to know about you by the first 20 seconds. Don’t save your best til last: give them a reason to keep watching!

Research what the studio you’re applying for has been working on before. You’ll definitely want to tailor your portfolio depending on what their existing strengths and preferred styles are. Show them you’ll be a great fit!

When applying to a position that is looking for 3D modeling and rigging experience, don’t bother showing them a demo reel bursting with hand drawn 2D stuff and stop motion. Keep it relevant and give them a reason early in the demo to keep watching.

Some of you will be wanting to show off a wide variety of animation skill by jamming in loads of different styles, but just keep in mind that most employers will have to sift through 10s of demos for a single position, to stand out you have to show them something relevant right out of the gate.

Don’t forget to always be nurturing your portfolio. You want to be updating it regularly every time you finish a new piece of worthy animation work, pushing out the older stuff. Your work is only as strong as the weakest clip, I know it’s painful but you gotta cull the stragglers from time to time.

Pat yourself on the back, you’ve now got the best shot at getting hired as an animator sitting right in front of you. But how can you display your work, get it in front of the people that matter and what you can do to stand out as an animator?

Lucky for you, Fudge has got it covered on this, too! Don’t say we never get you anything:

How to display your work as an animator

What makes you stand out as an animator?

Top 10 tips for freelancers

Once you finish all of that homework, feel free to drop us a line on facebook.com/fudgeanimation @fudgeanimation on Twitter or email us at hello@fudgeanimation.com and let us know how you’re getting on!