Regardless of which stage of your career you’re in, having recent and relevant documentation of your work can oftentimes be just as important as the work itself – whether you’re using the proof of your abilities to level-up in a new job search or simply just want to keep a clean record of where you’ve been and what you’ve done. If nothing else, tracking the process of a project can also be a learning tool for identifying possible opportunities to try new research, design, prototyping and presentation methods for future projects – regardless of what your design or engineering background is.

But for all of the good reasons for having an updated portfolio, it can also be a real time-sucker.

Between taking photographs, gathering sketches, organizing final rendered files and ultimately choosing how to best display everything both in digital and print formats is no walk in the park even for the most seasoned of professionals.


Thankfully, there are two excellent free (and high quality) resources that are definitely worth adding to your summer reading list.


First up is The Portfolio Handbook from the UCID Class of 2012, who created the guide with the goal of guiding sophomore students in the school’s ID program through the process of building their first portfolios. The Portfolio Handbook is the culmination of a class project that was aimed at capturing and sharing knowledge learned over the years into a digestible format.


“This was a great opportunity for us to give back to the program that has given so much to us as designers,” said the class in a statement. “We wanted to help strengthen our design community at DAAP and in the process we ended up creating something that we want to share with the broader design community.”


The result is nothing short of amazing for both the price (free) and the content shared – which includes everything from breaking down various ways of presenting different types of sketches to how to clean up the sketches themselves in Photoshop. The book is available as a free download.


Second – which is also called The Portfolio Handbook – is one part of a six-part series from one of the oldest visual arts magazines for the modern designer: Computer Arts Projects. Although the guide covers a lot of ground with a lean towards graphic design and UX design, a lot of the information presented is also very effective for 3D designers…particularly on tailoring your portfolio for specific audiences and where to find free online resources.


“Your design portfolio is your creative calling card: craft it cleverly and it could catapult your career to the next level,” says the magazine. “But what should you include? What should you leave out? And how can you ensure more of the right people see your work? Whether you’re looking to land new work, climb the career ladder or raise your professional standing, The Portfolio Handbook brings you everything you need to know to assemble the perfect design portfolio.”

The book, which is normally £5.99, is also currently available as a free download.

(Feature Image via Bryce Haymond)