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Postgraduate portfolio guide

When applying for a postgraduate course, you'll need to share a portfolio of creative work to be reviewed by our tutors. Read on for advice on what we look for plus examples of work submitted by our students during their applications. 

What is a creative portfolio?

A creative portfolio is an artistic expression of who you are and what you enjoy doing. This can take many different forms, including sculpture, painting, digital art, photography etc. Regardless of the output, your portfolio should be a reflection on your creative interests and passions.

Top tips

  • We recommend starting with your best work and remember, quality is more important than quantity! 

  • Demonstrate the progress and development of your work where you can, such as where your idea started from, right up till the final rendered product. 

  • Show what influential material you used, whether it was from a film, characters you like, real-life environments etc. But ensure your final product is original and if you worked in a team, you’ve been clear about your specific contribution to it. 

  • As this is a master's degree, the pace of the course is at a rate where you need to have at least some technical know-how. If your portfolio is missing this, then try it out to include in your portfolio. If in doubt, you can always get in touch! 

  • You can still apply if you didn’t study an arts-related subject, as long as you can express your creativity through imagery in a portfolio. 

*Are you looking for our undergraduate portfolio guide instead?

Things to include in your portfolio

Photography, drawings, sketches, sculptures, storyboards, models, 3D work, videos, painting, blogs, showreels, digital art... anything that can showcase your creative and technical skills! 

What should I include? 

Try your hand at free software like Blender, or other 2D drawing tools. You can even do some stop-frame on your phone. We're happy to see all kinds of animation experimentation in any medium. You’re not required to have CG work, but it may be beneficial to try doing it. Have a go at a simple online tutorial using the free Maya software trial, even if it's just to make a sphere move across the screen.  

What if I don’t have any 3D Animation or digital artwork? 

That’s fine but ideally try and show evidence of being both artistic/creative and technically competent. You might have a strong knowledge of a at least a single piece of creative software, or know your way around a range of applications.

Student examples

Sunny Asadi studied our MA 3D Animation. Check out their ArtStation.

A word of advice from Lee Caller, Animation Tutor at Escape Studios:

“A creative portfolio doesn’t have to tick every possible box, but ideally shows a variety of creative styles (in whatever format you choose) backed up by technical and artistic skills - and above all demonstrate passion and personality.” 

What should I include? 

You can include basically anything art related such as photographs, drawings, sketches, etc. but most importantly, any 3D work and Unreal Engine projects. It can be screenshots as well short videos! Perhaps try a still life drawing in traditional media then draw it using Photoshop. If you've made a game, make sure you send us something we can view and navigate easily, not just a project file. 

What if I don’t have any games or digital artwork? 

If your portfolio had good observational drawing, then that would be just as good as if it was something done in Photoshop.  

Student examples

Will Brosch studied our MA Game Art. Take a peek at their ArtStation profile.

A word of advice from Christian Avigni, Game Art Tutor at Escape Studios:

“A good portfolio should include examples of technical and creative skills. And if you really want to stand out, anything created in Unreal Engine is a huge bonus!” 

What should I include?

We recommend you are somewhat familiar with software used on the course such as Autodesk Maya. You can download a free trial of Maya on their website. An idea usually starts with a drawing, which can be in the form of life, landscape or technical, don’t forget to include scribbles, notes and influences. If you have a showreel, keep it short and sweet, around two minutes max. 

What if I don’t have any 3D VFX work? 

It doesn't need to be 3D work; just some good artwork you've done over the last few years. Make sure you bring supporting work as well as your finished work as we are very much interested in your process of how you got there.

A word of advice from Jonathan McFall, 3D Tutor at Escape Studios and Texture Trainer at Technicolor:

"Your showreel is going to be the first impression you give someone, so it’s important to only show your best work."

What should I include? 

We are looking for pieces of artwork that show an understanding of frame composition and colour balance.  This could be drawings, photography and sketches. It's important to include at least one digital piece to demonstrate your technical skills as well. We are looking for relevant technical experience in compositing software such as Adobe After Effects. A background in creating CG elements is always a plus.  

What if I don’t have any current compositing work? 

Not to worry. Portfolios that don't contain digital compositing work will still be considered. We start from scratch teaching you Nuke, but given the intense nature of the course, we want to be sure you can follow. As mentioned, artistic skills such as colour theory or understanding of basic CG concepts are all pertinent to the MA course.

Student examples

Stefano Ferron studied our MA Compositing for Visual Effects. Check out their application showreel.

A word of advice from Sokratis Synitos, Compositing Tutor at Escape Studios:

"The role of a Compositor needs a balanced use of technical and artistic skills. Your portfolio should include a sample of your best work, demonstrating those skills, which will be developed further through the course. "  

What should I include? 

We look for a keen and specific interest in characters and creatures. Perhaps you enjoy life drawing. Maybe you have watched YouTube tutorials and already know your way around programmes such as Maya and Blender, this is great too, but not essential.  

What if I don’t have any character or digital artwork?  

As mentioned before, life-drawing, or studies of anatomy are practical and don't take a lot of time. It would help if something that you have created has a character or creature vibe to it.

A word of advice from Michael Davies, Head of Creative Technology at Escape Studios:

“Start collecting ideas and references of the kinds of characters or creatures that you would like to be able to create. Starting the course with a plan of what to create is a great motivator but is also an amazing feeling when you achieve it!”