4 January 2015

Tips on how to make a Design Portfolio

You are here CEED >> CEDD 2014 details and dates

By this time, you would know what it mean by portfolio to design exams and design career. Portfolio is an edited collection of your best design/art works intended to showcase your expertise, understanding, talent or even method of work. 

Remember, a portfolio is not just a collection of images or sketches, it's basically all about wrap up of your ideas and concepts put in a single place. So, don't always think that gathering images and sketches will do fine with your portfolio. Content/quality is more important than quantity.

What can be included in a portfolio

  • Index of of the contents
  • A brief introduction about you, your profile, achievements, especially something that tells the interviewer about your design interests through either cover letter format or even personal statement
  • Also, make sure to show a full range of abilities, including sketching, rendering, digital sketching/painting
  • Any of the works made using Photoshop, finished products, photography, 3D-modelling, written documentation, 
  • Water and oil color paintings
  • A collection of some best captures taken by you (photographs) or any other alternatives, 
  • Design case studies

Good Practices

Maintain the order of placing best works at the top and moving to the next lower levels of works. Better not to show same kind of works always, even if you are applying for a specific design stream, try to elaborate your works and attempt a broad and wide variety of design and art works to showcase your extensive interest and diversified nature. 

Pick one of your strongest work as your opening page. Most portfolio tutors recommend to keep resumes and any other paper work in the back or in a separate folder. Try labelling your works with a title and if possible with brief description. Design portfolio's usually should contain only your best works. It's good to have a small portfolio carrying your best works rather than a big and bulk portfolio carrying lots of work ranging from good to silly. 

 A good portfolio should speak itself rather than requiring additional explanation by you. Like it is important for your portfolio work to be self expressive, better prepare for voral explanation too. You should be in a position to briefly explain about 
  • Your work, giving details on what the idea/concept is, 
  • Why it differs from others/present work
  • What advantages the concept provides
  • Who the users are, and so on. 

Get ready to self explain about each and every work of yours as included in the portfolio. The brief descriptions that you include would help you to identify the key points and explain accordingly !

There are quite a huge number of free/open source software's available in internet, that would help you with digital portfolio and other creative work making. 

Preferred format

  1. Sketches/art works (hand or digital made) that depicts construction process
  2. Concepts/idea development/generation process are most effective (Give a good insight into how that idea was generated). 
  3. Font size, style and colors are equally important in portfolio's. 
  4. Don't over load the portfolio's with many sizes and types. 
  5. 10 - 20 pages is quite handy. If exceeds, better to make another portfolio collection.

What portfolio is meant for ?

When the interviewers look at your portfolio, they would expect the work to be :
  • Realistic/original 
  • Concept-oriented 
  • Aesthetic 
  • Well-organized, 
  • Self explanatory and of course practical.  

Quality portfolios are appreciated and not those having huge collections. Interviewers won't be having that much time to go through all your works. Anyway, better to carry all those experimental, or completed works with you. Have two to three portfolio collections if you have quite a huge number of works. If you have some works/models that is quite huge in size, then better to photograph that and carry to showcase the work while at interview.

What materials can be used in making portfolio's

Precisely speaking, any art media can be used in making portfolio works. Design and work samples as well as models/prototypes can be taken as a portfolio support. 

There are a number of Electronic portfolio (also known as online portfolio, digital portfolio or also called e-portfolio). You may try your hands on some of these software's (if you have time)

You may find portfolio works of others in this social networks 

Some portfolio examples

Hope this helps, the thing is; portfolio works depend on individual and there are NO specific formats to follow. It should depict individual creativity and so, keeping all the above tips in mind, try to make the portfolio with your own style (a unique way), depicting your imaginative ideas.

You may also wish to see - Interview tips for CEED and NID


  1. I am not selected yet but as a mechanical engineer what should i add to my portfolio.....and how much does it matters

    1. You will get to know about selection in Jan if i'm not wrong (coz in Jan results will be declared), but its safer to get prepared for portfolio before results. If not this year, your portfolio might be helpful in future too!
      This post is completely dedicated to answer your question "what shld I add to my portfolio?" please read this post from the top :)

  2. Bhanu sir, first of all a big thank you for this blog and your online help portal for preparation of students like us.I am a mechanical grad.(2016 batch). This year i want to appear CEED as well as NID-DAT for PG course. My query is that whether in my portfolio can i add my mechanical designs what i had prepared( Design, analysis and simulation of an off-road vehicle chassis and its suspension system) during participation of a national off-road racing event BAJA SAE 2015. please response to my query, sir!!

    1. hello sunil,
      first thing is portfolio preparation can be taken care later (after ceed/nid exams) since u will get sufficient time after the exams, but preparation for the preliminary exams are very imp. So, I would rather suggest you to concentrate more on ceed/nid screening exams, of course one will be allowed to present portfolio only when they clear these exams.
      Regarding your actual query, I think you can show/include ur design in for ceed interviews but I little doubt whether it can be presented during nid interview, or not! The design you did is more in-detail type concerning mostly about the how much strength the chassis bears and what is the safe strength that can be loaded on it. But designers expect design in different sense. They rather try to find more about aesthetics in ur design esp nid. So, I would suggest you to try contacting any prospect students and check with them.
      But u can definitely present ur work during IISc interviews for CPDM admission through CEED!

  3. Hello Mr.Bhanu,
    First of all, huge thanks for helping me clear my NID prelims.. Got selected for transport design and I owe it to your blog :D Can you give me some specific tips for transportation design mains as such? as in should my portfolio be focused only on transport or all design fields? also can you tell me if it is recommended to attend coaching classes to prepare for mains and to prepare portfolio? Once again, thank you!

    1. congrats first of all,
      Ur portfolio should mostly show the works related to t=ur chosen design field. But not completely! You might consider showing some sketches, paints, creative or DIY works (photos, sketches, CAD/digital works). Like I recommend a minimum of 10 works out of which two pages you can spare for ur art n creative part.

  4. Sir what will be the ideal size for a portfolio...A3 or A4??

    1. It's ok to go with either, but usually A4 comes handy for handling. Or else you might thing ok including A3 sized designs in a A4 made booklet like we see in magazines.

    2. Hi Bhanu ,

      Do you have any portfolio for animation ?

  5. good evening,
    this is Ameesha
    i wanted some examples of under-graduate portfolio, where can i find them?

  6. hii sir this is rahul first of all i m big thnx of u and second thing i want to ask u that can i add the college projects deatils in CEED & NID portfolio which i made in college life plzzzzz sir suggest me

    1. yeah, if it's design related and presentable, definitely u may include.

  7. Hi sir,

    The material you provided is very helpful. I wanted your view on pursuing MDes. I completed my BTech in 2011, did MS in Electrical Engineering in 2015 and currently working in an MNC in India. Although my heart lies in designing, painting, sketching etc. What would you recommend, does it make sense for me to give the exam and do another masters in designing? Just looking out for another perspective. Thanks

    1. probably the links will help u

  8. Sir
    Can we include photography and Photoshop and other software work ??
    What about some graphics handmade cards printed cards??
    I chose apparel design in masters of nid.

    1. yeah, u can.
      regarding cards, u can put their snaps in the folio. Also, carry a bunch of those works to the interview hall. If u get a chance, u may present them physically.

  9. Hi Sir,
    First of all thanks a lot, because of your blog i cleared the first round of NID DAT exam...now i m preparing for DAT MAINS.But it is written on the admit card that there is no interview and no need to bring any portfolio....

    1. Seriously?
      Are you applying for bdes or mdes?
      It’s usually safe to have a portfolio - atleast collection of ur works. But, If there is no interview, then there is no need for folio. Still, I suggest u carry some collection during admission.

  10. Hi I wanted to see some examples of portfolio s for bdes ?
    Can u please help me with that

  11. Hello Sir
    Hope you are doing well!!
    (1)I need your view regarding few colleges for bdes. I m getting mixed responses about Avantika University is MIT ujjain and UID Ahmedabad. Can you tell me which college out of the two is better in terms of 1) faculty 2) campus 3) administration 4) placements
    Even though Avantika is a new college , it has faculty from MIT Pune. So which one is the better option ?
    (2)Also, I read on Quora that if a student wish to withdraw his/her admission, UID asks to pay full fees of four years or else keep original documents and don't return them. Is this true?
    Thank you !!

  12. Bhanu, i have created my portfolio in a digital form by making my own portfolio website. will I be able to present my website during the interview?

    1. Yes. You can. May be you can carry a laptop or a tab. But, as far as I’ve known, hard copy speaks a lot and also preferred. Even in today’s industries, when it comes to designing something, papers are what preferred over digital works. So, if possible, make an usual portfolio apart from your website. You can present them both and have an dvantage.

  13. I am currently in last yr of mechanical engineering. I have done 3 yr diploma after 10th.Which colleges I am eligible for PG in UI/UX Design

  14. Namaste Bhanu. I gave my Ceed exam this year , and have an inclination towards animation design . With respect to portfolio, what would you recommend on - to keep a major portion related to choosen feild (sketches,2d animation, character design) or keep it balanced ( involve elements of product design,ui/ux etc). Also is showing a problem statement and solution relevant in case of animation ??


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