Monday 21 September 2015

Portfolio Tips for Our New BA/MArt

Life drawing - good training for animators
Thinking of applying for our new BA/MArt in The Art of Computer Animation? One of the most common questions we get asked by prospective students is: What should go into my portfolio?

The short answer is - a bit of everything: drawings, painting, life drawing, sketches, scribbles, 3D digital artwork - whatever you have to hand - ideally uploaded to a website or blog.

Below is a short video setting out portfolio guidelines:

Coffee cup made in Blender
What kind of candidates are we looking for? 
We are looking for candidates with art skills, ideally including drawing, design and animation. It also helps if you are comfortable with computers and computer software, and be curious enough to want to know more.  3D Animation is a blend of art and technology.

Ever tried downloading Blender and trying it out?
Blender. Free 3D software

These days there are tons of free animation tutorials at YouTube, and Blender is completely free.

If you'd like to do a free Blender test that we recommend, follow this link. See how you get on! If you enjoy doing it, a career in the digital arts might be for you.

Do our applicants need good tech skills?
Drawing is a plus
It helps if you don't get too frustrated when computers go wrong - which they do all the time.  Software malfunction should be a challenge to be overcome - not a reason to stop work.  Why not download a free copy of Autodesk Maya? It's the main software we use to teach animation, and it's free for students.

Do our applicants need to draw well?
Good drawing skills are a plus, but they are not essential. We live in a digital age, and most of our work is now done using computers as our tools.  Of course, we do want to see signs of creativity and visual invention.

Animation is not just about mastering the software, it's about having ideas, and giving a performance. So a sketchbook or blog full of ideas is a definite plus.

Should our applicants have an online portfolio?
Ideally, yes. The best kind of digital portfolio is a website or blog showcasing your work.  Check out our post here on how to create a free blog and/or website, and start uploading your work today.  It's never too early to have your own online showcase, and it's completely free to build a website at You can also upload to tumbler, which is really a simplified blog.

Wix: free websites!
What if an applicant doesn't have a blog or portfolio?
If you're not ready to put your work online, or you simply don't have the time, just email us your artwork. This could take the form or a JPEG or a PDF document; something that is easily opened with standard software. Movie files in simple formats like .avi or .mov are also welcome.

Quick sketches 
What don't we want to see?
What we don't want to receive are specialist program files like Maya files or 3D Studio Max files, or Flash, or AfterEffects files.

Specialist files like this take too long to load up and the person doing the interview may not have the software on their laptop. 

Should applicants do a tech check before the interview?
Definitely.  Just like if you were applying for a job, make sure you present your work in a format which is easily opened. Do a quick tech check - do the files actually work? And can they be opened in standard software like QuickTime or Adobe Acrobat?

When does your portfolio need to be ready?
You don't need to have a polished portfolio ready in time for submission of your UCAS application, but you will need it to be ready when you come in for one of our Applicant Days. 

For more information, read about the course here, or email me at alex.williams1(at)

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our new BA/MArt, follow this link.  

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