Thursday, September 3, 2015

Patricia Pinsk's Great Web Portfolio Tips

I welcome Patricia Pinsk to my blog today. She is a local member of the SCBWI Canada West. She has written many articles for both the SCBWI bulletin and her blog about Illustration in the Digital Age (I have a blog post up there today, so check it out). Patricia is very knowledgeable when it comes to both illustration and design of all types. I am a big fan of Patricia's art work and am slightly jealous of her design/illustration skills. I'm very jealous of her website, so I couldn't think of anyone better to help teach us all about web design!


6 tips for creating a great online portfolio

Whether you already have an online portfolio, or are in the process of creating one, here are some tips to ensure it looks great.
  1. Ensure your images are optimized for the Web. The best image size is 640 x 480 pixels at 72 DPI. You want your images to look great, while not making people wait around for huge files to load. Also, viewers may not have a data plan that supports large file downloads.
    • Refer to Why size matters when it comes to digitizing art for details on how to optimize your files.
    • Avoid watermarks. They are distracting and won’t stop someone from stealing your art. If you must use something, put the © symbol in the image captions, or put a small signature on your art.
  2. Ensure your portfolio looks professional. As noted in What makes good Web design?, you have less than a minute to impress someone
    • Ensure your online portfolio is easy to navigate.
    • Ensure your images are well documented – don’t photograph them against cluttered or poorly lit backgrounds.
    • Use services noted in What makes good Web design? if you need help building a portfolio.
  3. Showcase your best content. Less is more.
    • Show only your best work – even if it is only 5 pieces.
    • Show work that is consistent in quality and style.
Image Caption 1: Example of an online portfolio menu. Note the “Connect” (contact) link.
  1. Don’t show too much. Limit your portfolio or portfolio section to 20 images.
    • Organize images into categories such as “Personal Projects”, “Children’s Illustration in Ink” – if you have more than 20 images.
    • Keep your category titles concise and easy-to-understand.
    • Present your content in a series of “thumbnails” rather than a long scrolling page of actual-size images. The page will load faster, and people prefer having a larger-view option.
  2. Ensure your content is well organized. Make it easy for people to understand what they’re looking at.
    • Use proper headings and if necessary, sub-headings on all your pages.
    • Start with your strongest piece in your portfolio and end with your next strongest piece.
    • Ensure your page does not appear cluttered – use “white” (empty) space so it is easy for the viewer to scan for information.
    • Ensure menus, contact information and social media links are on all pages and in the same location – make it easy for people to navigate through your portfolio.
  1. Ensure your portfolio is clean and non-distracting.
    • Avoid the use of busy page backgrounds – they take the focus off your work.
    • Avoid putting non-relevant info in your portfolio – keep the focus entirely on your illustrations.
Image Caption 2: Example of an online portfolio. Note the consistency in layout, use of headings and some explanatory text.

Good luck with the portfolio creation! Don’t forget to test how your portfolio looks on more than one system and device. If you have further questions, you can connect with me online at: Twitter: @PatriciaPinsk or Facebook Patricia Pinsk illustration. Website:

Patricia Pinsk lives in Vancouver B.C. She holds a BFA from Vancouver’s Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (now called Emily Carr University of Art and Design), a Certificate in New Media from Vancouver Film School, and a Certificate in Technical Writing from Simon Fraser University.


Start on your character design now if you haven't. Use this post to help you know what you should have:


  1. Thanks for the great tips Patricia! My website always needs improvement. :)

  2. Terrific advice! I'll be sure to take all the points mentioned here and go through my site to optimize it. Thanks, Patricia! (I walked by Emily Carr back in July; I usually try to make it to Granville Island when I visit my family in Vancouver once a year. :) )

    1. Let me know when you are in town and I'll meet up with you for a coffee or lunch!

  3. Web portfolios are so vital for illustrators. It's an Illustrator's home base for all their activity online. I know I need to rework my own. I've also seen so many illustrators struggle with this. It's so great to have a post that I can refer people to whenever I see them struggling with their online portfolios. Thank you so much Patricia. I hope your beautiful portfolio will give you a ton of good work soon and in the years to come!

  4. Patricia, thank you for the great advice on portfolios! I am just beginning to put one together.

  5. This is the first time I've done a picture book dummy in InDesign. I need to keep learning and work harder at learning all the ins and outs of this digital medium. Thanks for your post again!!