Common Questions and Answers for Portfolio Creation “WEB, Game Industry, Illustrator”

I have compiled frequently asked questions regarding portfolio creation for designers in the web industry, game industry, and illustrators, among others.
This content is recommended for students working on their portfolios and those in the job hunting process.

When you start creating your portfolio for the first time, various questions may arise.
This article provides answers to 11 common questions that beginners often have about portfolio creation.

I hope this serves as a helpful guide for those working on their portfolios.

Top 11 Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

Q.1 How many pages should my portfolio have?

There are no strict rules for the number of pages in a portfolio.
Having more pages doesn’t necessarily make it better, and having fewer pages doesn’t make it inadequate.

The ‘quality’ of your portfolio is the most important factor.

A portfolio with a few pages showcasing carefully selected works that you truly love is often more effective than a collection with many pages filled with mediocre or incomplete pieces.
Even if your portfolio is only 10 pages, if those pages are filled with high-quality, dense content, it’s perfectly acceptable.

For those creating a portfolio for the first time, consider aiming for the equivalent of a 20-pocket clear file.
Typically, a portfolio with around 20 pages provides enough volume to showcase your work without being overwhelming.

Of course, you can have 30 or 40 pages if needed.
However, I’ll emphasize again, ‘quality over quantity’ is crucial!

Q.2 How should I structure my portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of your own works, so there are no strict rules for its structure.
Organize it in the way that you believe presents your work most effectively and makes a strong appeal!

For those new to creating a portfolio, consider starting with a commonly used and general structure.

  • Cover (1 page)
  • Introduction (1-2 pages)
  • Table of Contents (1-2 pages)
  • Work Pages
  • Back Cover (1 page)

It’s a well-balanced and conventional structure.
Starting with a standard format and gradually evolving it would be a good approach.

Q.3 Is it enough to just arrange my works in a portfolio?

Many people believe that a portfolio is sufficient if they simply arrange their works in a straightforward manner.

For those who think a portfolio is complete by merely ‘placing works’ and adding ‘a bit of title or description,’ struggling in job hunting is almost certain.

It’s acceptable as the ‘first attempt at a portfolio’ for a school assignment.
However, it becomes problematic when it’s intended as the ‘portfolio for applying to a desired company.’

A portfolio becomes presentable when you put in the ‘effort to showcase your works better.’
A simple arrangement with brief explanations falls under the ‘preliminary version.’

The ‘preliminary version’ may risk lowering the quality of the showcased works, and submitting it as is might lead to a high likelihood of rejection.

Unless you possess universally recognized ‘demon-like artistic skills,’ and a single printed image without a file is sufficient, the ‘preliminary version’ is risky for ordinary students with typical production skills.

Submitting it in that state… there’s a high probability of wasting time and money.

The composition, text, image size, trimming, layout, font size and thickness, whitespace, framework design—there is likely ample room for improvement.

‘Layout’ does not equate to just ‘arranging.’

I recommend refining it into a ‘high-quality, polished portfolio’ before applying.
Here are some examples of how to improve a portfolio that has potential, so please consider them as a reference.

I highly recommend submitting only after creating a thoroughly ‘completed portfolio.’

Q.4 Is it necessary to include drawings in the portfolio?

There is no strict rule that dictates including drawings in your portfolio.

However, including drawings can provide insight into a person’s foundational drawing skills and their ability to perceive objects (such as spatial awareness and 3D comprehension).
Higher foundational drawing skills often correlate with the potential to create high-quality artworks.

In certain fields like the game industry, especially for roles like 3DCG or 2DCG designers, strong drawing skills are frequently sought after. Many companies for these positions explicitly mention ‘drawing skills required’ in their job listings.

In the web industry, drawing skills are not usually a primary requirement, but if the quality is high, it’s advisable to include them. If drawing is a significant weakness, it might be better to omit them.

In terms of volume, including a spread of about 2 pages at the end of the portfolio is generally sufficient. Additionally, adding sketches or croquis can enhance the overall presentation.

I dislike drawing, but I want to include it.
For those who struggle with drawing, instead of using the ‘drawing while observing the actual object’ method, you might want to try ‘sketching or tracing monochrome photos of the subject taken with a camera, edited in software like Photoshop.’
While it may not significantly improve drawing skills as a training method, it can be suitable for creating ‘portfolio drawings‘ for those who find drawing challenging.
During an interview, confidently state that you ‘drew the illustrations carefully.’

Q.5 Will a mailed portfolio be returned?

Sending a portfolio back to the applicant depends on the policies of the company to which you applied.

Many companies include information about the return of portfolios in their application guidelines.
Since many companies do not return portfolios, be sure to check this information.

Regardless of the outcome, you may want your portfolio, which you spent time and money creating, to be returned.
Even if returns are not allowed, it’s a good idea to communicate in advance about the desire for return and include a return envelope.

Additionally, it is recommended to have not only a unique portfolio but also a portfolio that can be mass-produced.
This could be a type that can be printed using a home printer for convenience.

Please note that the information above is not relevant if you submitted your portfolio digitally.

Q.6 Is it acceptable to include works that are not part of school assignments?

Certainly, it’s perfectly fine to include works that are not part of school assignments.

Regardless of whether they are from school or personal projects, aim to showcase “high-quality works.”

If your portfolio consists mostly of school assignments, it may give off a sense of being “forced” to create.
On the other hand, the pieces you create based on your personal interests and preferences often carry more passion and authenticity.

In fact, not including school assignments and showcasing works that are exclusively your own might help bring out more originality in your portfolio.

Q.7 I would like to submit my portfolio in digital format. How can I do that?

The format of your portfolio submission—whether paper or digital—depends on the requirements of the company you are applying to.

Recently, many companies are accepting both resumes and portfolios in digital format. In most cases, the requirements state something like “regardless of the format of the works.”

Companies that request a paper portfolio often specify that they are looking for “printed works.”
Confirm whether digital submission is accepted by checking the guidelines in advance.

For digital portfolios, you may be asked to “send a PDF of the printed portfolio,” “include the URL of a website,” or “send a disk media (with well-designed label and case).”

In truth, there is no set format for a portfolio.
Present your works in the most compelling way possible, using the medium or method that best showcases your strengths, for the highest chance of success in securing an offer.

Q.8 How should I ultimately go about portfolio advice, considering that it varies from person to person?

Advice on portfolios often varies, depending on whether it’s from school teachers, hiring managers at desired companies, or professionals in the industry.
It’s a common experience.

Honestly, opinions on portfolios depend on the ‘viewer’s preference.’
If the hiring manager likes a certain style, it’s a plus, but if not, it might not work out.

So, take others’ opinions as reference and prioritize your own vision. In other words, ‘prioritize your own opinion.’
I personally prefer creators with a strong sense of self rather than those who accept everything they’re told.

Consider advice as one perspective, and just because a teacher says something doesn’t mean you have to incorporate it.

However, if multiple people point out the same issue, it’s likely a valid concern.
In that case, it’s advisable to accept the feedback and make improvements.

Q.9 I don’t know what kind of work I want to do or what work suits me best.

If you’re unsure whether you’re really suited for the field you’ve chosen, such as design, illustration, or game characters, it might be because you lack enough knowledge about the industry and potential careers. Start by gathering as much information as possible about the industries or jobs that interest you.

If you’re interested in the gaming industry, research companies that create your favorite games. If you like character goods, delve into companies specializing in creating character goods. Find out what kind of work these companies do, what positions they are recruiting for, and what skills are required. Check the company’s website and social media for information on job roles and the qualities they are looking for in candidates.

As a student, don’t just rely on online information; make use of your school’s career center. Consult with professional career counselors to get detailed information. Many students focus on creating their works but forget to ask questions. Take advantage of the resources available to you.

Attend company briefing sessions, especially those of the companies you are interested in. By gaining more specific information about the areas you are interested in, you might discover what you really want to do and what suits you.

While it may seem troublesome, not doing anything won’t lead to progress. If you’re just casually job hunting without putting in effort, you may not get favorable results. Take the time to explore and understand your options. It might be a bit of a hassle, but without making the effort, you won’t see any progress in your job search.

Q.10 Is it advisable to include personal information in a portfolio?

The question of whether to include personal information on the introduction page of a portfolio is often asked.

Personal information refers to information that can identify a person, such as full name, address, date of birth, phone number, email address, and facial photos.

In conclusion, it is not necessary to include personal information.
Your resume, which includes personal information, is typically submitted along with the portfolio.

Unlike a resume, a portfolio is viewed not only by the hiring personnel of the applying company but also by various others. Although the risk is minimal, there is a possibility that personal information could be misused through the portfolio. It is advised, especially for women, to be cautious.

Honestly, the inclusion of personal information is subjective. Some people willingly share personal information on social media, for example. If you feel comfortable doing so, you are free to include personal information.

However, personally, I believe there is no real necessity to include extensive personal information. Such details are often not thoroughly examined, and the benefits of including them are limited.

At a minimum, including your name (or a pseudonym) should suffice. Information such as name plus email address (plus a self-portrait) is generally considered adequate.

Including any awards or achievements that showcase your skills can be beneficial.

Q.11 Is it acceptable to include AI-generated illustrations in a portfolio?

I sometimes receive questions about whether it’s acceptable to include AI-generated illustrations in a portfolio.
The conclusion is “No, if you’re aiming for a professional career,” and “It’s okay at a hobby level, but be mindful of copyright.

There are rare cases where individuals disregard copyright and use AI to generate illustrations created by others, falsely presenting them as their own work. Frankly, individuals taking this approach are detrimental to aspiring illustrators or creators.
Providing an honest opinion, they fundamentally lack suitability, and it is strongly recommended that they consider an alternative path promptly.

A portfolio is not just a measure of the quality of the artwork. Companies also assess an individual’s attitude toward creativity, their ambition for improvement, future potential, and more. Additionally, many can easily identify when AI has been used to generate artwork.

Would a company willingly hire someone who uses AI to generate works by others and falsely claims them as their own, investing a significant amount of money in the process? Such individuals not only provide no benefit but also pose a risk to the company.

If you are serious about pursuing a career as a “professional” creator, it’s advisable to refrain from using AI-generated works.

In conclusion

Here, we presented 11 common questions about portfolio creation for designers.

Honestly, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for portfolio creation. However, understanding the content of the questions above and incorporating it into your portfolio can lead to improvements.

The most important thing is to craft the portfolio you want to create. Yet, consider the content of this article as just one perspective that might be worth keeping in mind.

See you again!