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Designing a Digital Portfolio [Paperback]

Cynthia L. Baron
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Paperback, December 28, 2003 --  
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Designing a Digital Portfolio (2nd Edition) (Voices That Matter) Designing a Digital Portfolio (2nd Edition) (Voices That Matter) 4.6 out of 5 stars (14)
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Book Description

December 28, 2003 0735713944 978-0735713949 1

The world has gone digital--which means that a paper portfolio is no longer good enough. These days, as a creative professional, you're expected to be able to show your work on demand--whether that means emailing it to a client, displaying it on a Web site, or delivering it on CD or DVD. This book shows you how. Using a combination of step-by-step instructions and inspiring examples, veteran author Cynthia Baron takes you through the entire process of designing a digital portfolio--from developing a concept and choosing a medium, to scanning work created with traditional materials; optimizing digitized art; repurposing digital material; creating a portfolio Web site, CD, or DVD; producing a portable portfolio; and avoiding technical pitfalls when digitizing, organizing, and delivering the final product. You'll also find loads of insights from the professionals who evaluate artist portfolios everyday--agency heads, art directors, and designers--plus handy checklists, a run-down of dos and don'ts, case studies, and tips.

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Editorial Reviews Review

It isn't easy finding a job these days and for those working in the creative fields like graphic design, illustration, photography, filmmaking, and music, a digital portfolio is just the shiny object you need to catch the attention of a prospective employer. But you can't just slap a few files on a CD and call it a night. As Cynthia Baron points out in Designing a Digital Portfolio--a thorough guide to digital portfolios--your first impression is critical and good preparation will pay off.

The books begins with soul-searching: what work are you hoping to get, who's your audience, what style of presentation should you choose, and what technology--Zip, CD, DVD? Effective portfolios from various fields are analyzed, for example, one for an industrial designer or a flash animation artist. If you happen to do both or are otherwise a jack-of-all-trades, Baron outlines your strategy for targeting your audience and deciding how to focus your presentation.

There're several great chapters on prepping your work, collecting it (do you have your process materials, like pencil sketches?), digitizing the non-digital and cleaning it up (like stitching together scans or effective cropping), nitty-gritty items like optimizing and encoding (crucial if you don't want your future boss frustrated by large files), and dealing with that neglected cousin of the visually creative: good written content.

Next, the book considers delivery (for example, Web versus a portable portfolio on CD or DVD), a presentation metaphor (for example, gallery or diary), and the navigational master plan. The chapter on copyrights and attribution are worth the cover price alone. (For example, do you know who owns the artwork you just created for that latest brochure? Do you know how to present a large project on which you worked as part of a team?)

Throughout the book, Baron profiles some stellar examples of digital portfolios, most of which are viewable online, for example, illustrator Michael Bartalos's Web site at And the appendices offer even more resources to help and inspire you. --Angelynn Grant

From the Publisher

If you’ve looked at any of the job classifieds lately, you know employment opportunities are slim. With so few jobs available and so many people looking, your portfolio must command attention.

Fortunately, long-time teacher Cynthia Baron has written Designing a Digital Portfolio. It is packed with ideas for researching and marketing, and it includes everything you need to set up and distribute a digital portfolio that will get you noticed. Throughout, she provides several case studies, and she’s interviewed several artists and employers who openly their share successes and mistakes.

This full-color book is full of inspiration, how-to, and what not to do. If you - or someone you know - is looking for a job, Designing a Digital Portfolio will make your efforts more streamlined and your outcome more successful.

Jennifer Eberhardt (

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders Press; 1 edition (December 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735713944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735713949
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,246,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books on the Topic May 6, 2004
This is one of the best books on its topic that I have ever seen. From the title, I expected to find advice on preparing images for the screen, how to put them on a CD or DVD, etc. Those things are there, but the book begins in a logical place that I wouldn't have considered. Brown's approach is truly holistic.

Check out page 23 for the first page of a three-page self assessment check list. It has you evaluate your professional strengths and weaknesses, goals and personality.

Chapter 3 asks you a bunch of questions to help you identify who your audience really is and focus on them.

The rest of the book covers various digital formats, how to organize your work, how to get images of 3D and oversized work into your portfolio, including choosing a camera and setting up for shooting.

Ms. Brown covers editing your images to remove the most common problems, such as moire, sharpening needs, bad crops, etc. And ... she devotes a section to creating written content to accompany your stunning images, telling you how to write to that audience you defined earlier.

She explains the differences between a monitor screen and a printed page. You need to know that to design the correct interface for your portfolio. She also has a full chapter devoted to marketing and copyright issues.

The entire book is scattered with quotes (in friendly green type) from experts and those who have gone before you. The quotes tell you what agencies are looking for in a portfolio, how others have found success at this, what things you can do to streamline the process, etc.
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive resource February 20, 2004
For several months I searched for an appropriate textbook for a course that I was developing. Several days prior to the deadline for the course outline, "Designing a Digital Portfolio " was published. After reading the book, I realized this was the authoritative text for anyone in a creative field. The book asks and answers all the essential questions. It is perfect for the technological savvy multimedia programmer or for any artist with limited technology expertise. I urge anyone who is even considering developing a digital portfolio to buy this book. Without qualification, this is the most valuable book on the market
Multimedia Portfolio Instructor/Art Institute/Art Institute Online
Subject Matter Expert / Curriculum Development Multimedia Portfolio
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb resource for a wide variety of portfolio formats November 13, 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you set can aside the near 100% focus on digital media (though it is excellent for that kind of format) and not hyperventilate in feeling like you need to come up with Flash or DVDs after reading this, it offers solid points on portfolio content, whatever format you choose.

It covers what should go in, what should not go in, how much should go in, how/if to deal with process pieces, storyboarding,

thematic ties to pull a disparate portfolio together, and sage advice on basics like the kinds of written copy you want to include, such as design briefs, problem statements, and tag lines. It's my favorite book for this effort right now. My husband's, too. I have to pry it off his desk.

It's also savvy when it comes to marketing, so I think it will have a long shelf life in my library for the days when I need to market myself on other things besides landing a job, like marketing my firm.

It has some printed web site design examples which offer visual eye inspiration for printed page layout. It even has great image workflow tips, towards preserving the best image quality with the least needed resolution, that are comprehensible to the lay person as well as meaningful to someone with a high degree of digital photographic processing background.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive May 10, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read through this book once, just to get an overall feel. I was totally delighted with the quality and the depth of material. I've read many books on portfolios and many more on website design, but all of them together couldn't do what this one book did. I was finally ready to create my portfolio (months later) and prepared to go through it again making detailed notes when, to my deep consernation, the darn thing went missing.

So I just bought another one, started skimming through it and then reading it carefully, making notes. I am again wowed by the sheer amount of information pertinent to what I am trying to do. From detailing what types of pieces make sense for which type of designer (and even helping you figure out which type you really are), to resumes, to how to present yourself and your material, to desiging the site, it's all in there.

Along the way, she sprinkles comments from some of the greats in the field on what they expect. On top of that, there are so many great examples of sites in the book, that it can serve simply as a top notch idea book when you're done building your portfolio.

I can't say enough about how helpful this book has been. Every few sentences, I get a great idea and have to go work on it, so it will take me a while to get all the way through the book a second time. But I know I'll have something that really represents me and what I do best, and what I want to continue doing.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars comprehensive material. February 28, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Most artists can't do everything - usually they are somewhere in the middle of a chain of production responsiblities that don't include the skillsets involved with presenting a portfolio, digital or otherwise. Many points of insider knowledge are invaluable - I was on the cusp of using PowerPoint for my CD portfolio (my wife has strong skills with this) before being warned that this bussiness presentation software's would be viewed with derision by art directors, and that a high resolution version of a website format is the way to go here - this one parcel of knowledge was worth the price of the book alone, but it is far from the only lesson imparted. Highly recommended - it doesn't stray into realms of esoterica for the sake of pagecount.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This was required reading for one of my classes at Art Institute of...
This is a really detailed book that shows how to create a digital portfolio. It was required reading at Art Institute of Pittsburgh for one of my classes.
Published 7 months ago by Willie Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Product
I love this book. I use it for class. It is a wonderful tool for my studies. I highly recommend.
Published 10 months ago by LaDonnaMcHenry
5.0 out of 5 stars text book
the only quam I have is that I shoud have purchased a higher version of the kindle.
as a designer I need to see things in color also.

A problem easy remedied.
Published 14 months ago by Rosalinda
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad book to have... some 10 years ago.
This book is by no means badly written. It covers all the bases of digital portfolios. However this book hasn't been updated and so all this advice is valid for the late 90's early... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Juan E. Duque
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book for Getting Started with a Digital Portfolio
I had to purchase this book for a college class and found it to be quite helpful. I referred to it often as I was looking at what I wanted in my portfolio and how I wanted it to... Read more
Published on July 3, 2011 by Michele Bergh
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING BOOK AND A MUST HAVE!!!
I'm a graphic designer and I needed this book for a class and let me tell you... I used this book SO MUCH!!! Probably the best book I had to use during college. Read more
Published on June 12, 2010 by Small Town Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Portfolio Design Book I've Ever Seen
I have to be honest, when I ordered this book for a recent portfolio class that I've been taking, I wasn't really that excited. Read more
Published on March 21, 2010 by Zoe Anne Marlowe
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for designers
I found this book to be helpful but to be a bit to much for me. It was a bit technical and has a lot of jargon in it for me. Read more
Published on December 30, 2008 by John Roberts
4.0 out of 5 stars Great beginners guide
This handbook is targeted at beginners in designing portfolios to submit their artwork or photos when job hunting. Read more
Published on August 11, 2005 by Janlynn
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