The specific layout of a portfolio depends on the type of portfolio, as well as its creator and intended audience; the creator should be focused on how they would like the viewer to receive their work. A clean, easily navigated portfolio makes for a "viewer-friendly" experience. The goal in laying out pages in a portfolio is to blend together the effects of size and sequence to create a flow of content and visual elements that add up to more than a collection of individual pieces.
The layout of any portfolio should serve to direct and focus the viewer's attention on the neccesary elements and components of each piece housed within. When beginning to lay out a portfolio, consider the following:
- What pieces of the work must be present? For example, fashion books require not only design sketched, but also photogaphs of the finished pieces and fabric swatches indicating what was used.
- Does the work fit into categories? Categorizing work can help direct the viewer to the most relevant pieces in the portfolio. For example, a performer's portfolio might want to separate work by type- commericials, film, television, voiceover, etc.
- Is the design of the portfolio considered a piece of the portfolio? For example, when a web designer creates a web portfolio, the design of the portfolio site is an additional piece of web design. Almost all design portfolios should reflect the style of the designer.
- Experiment by trying different sequences while altering image size. Much of this can be done in Photoshop and iTunes before you try it in proof prints.
- Don’t lose sight of the qualities in the pictures that you’re trying to bring forward in the presentation.
- Do this over a period of time as it’s subtle work.
Traditional Layout: Most creatives choose a simple and clean page layout that places the emphasis squarely on the work samples. A presentation of coherent, uniformly sized pieces lends coherence and engenders an air of professionalism. The message (beyond the content) is that the owner of such a portfolio can work with accuracy and precision, two qualities greatly admired in professionals of all kinds.
Evolving Layout: An evolving layout is one that goes through some changes in the course of the presentation while still maintaining a single sensibility or style. As example, a photographer might have three or four different page layouts that rotate through the book or site. As individual layouts are repeated as the viewer flips or clicks through the pages there is a sense of continuity. Layout strategies might extend over a few pages or at least a double page spread so that if a vertical image is bled off all four edges is followed by a horizontal image bled off two sides… stays within the parameters that have been set up.
The pitfall of this sort of strategy is randomness. Though randomness is an important aspect of a lot of artwork, it doesn’t have a place in any type of professional portfolio. A random, or merely busy looking book may well undercut the impact of the work housed within.
- Directions for using Photoshop to layout a portfolio