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What makes a good portfolio or show reel?

This is an incredibly subjective question, but one that bares consideration when it comes time for creating one’s own.

Let’s start with the basics. What is a Portfolio/ Show reel?

It is a compilation of visual evidence that proves one’s skills to the uninitiated. Or serves as a selling point to employers, for reason as to why they should be hired. There will be many portfolios out there in the wild, catering to all sorts of different creative outlets and sectors. However, today we shall be taking a looking into the sector of Animation. So, now let’s refine our first question. What makes a good portfolio for an aspiring animator?

The short answer is content. Because everything is content.

The actual answer, however, might be more complicated than first expected. As animation is a sector that contains multiple roles within itself (or mini sectors) and each role requires a different skill set. We are not created equal it would seem.

The simplest way to break the different roles down would be to discuss what those in the know like to call, the pipeline. And I don’t mean the kind of pipes Mario jumps through or the ones under your kitchen sink.

I’m talking about the order in which tasks are completed on an industrial level to ensure cohesiveness while working on large scale animation projects, so that production times can be managed and maintained. Animation is famous after all for being a long process, and as they say, time is money.

Some examples of the different stages for the pipeline are as follows:

Concept Design: which is where a lot of ideas for a project are explored and tested before decisions are made about what to take forward and what to leave behind.

Here are some examples of clothing for a character I played with.

Asset Development: This is where if working on a 3D project all the character models and sets, as well as objects are made that will make up the scenes in the shot.

Here is an example of a character I modelled and then later textured, which is another stage of the pipeline. Texturing is what one would equate to colouring a drawing, or how to distinguish what an object is meant to represent through use of materials and colour.

There is also lighting, Lighting can be used in a variety of ways however its main function is to aid you in what you are trying to convey visually. The most basic of this example would be is it night or day?

Examples of scene I created that highlight Lighting