ILLUSTRATION KNOW-HOW How to create a PDF illustration portfolio


SCBWI's Illustration Coordinator Soni Speight offers some tips on making digital portfolios. 

As illustrators, increasingly often we’re asked to send a PDF of our work. You should start by prepping your images to look as professional as possible.

  1. Choose your best work (see this article about what to include).
  2. If you have physical copies scan or photograph them - best to take high resolution pictures of them lying flat in good lighting, and beware thumbs holding them, desk clutter or pets paws…
  3. Crop, edit and adjust your images so they look their best – make sure they are clear not pixelated, blurry, or distorted.
  4. Save into a folder.

Once you have your images ready it is a quick and easy process to make a PDF, using Adobe Acrobat, Indesign, Powerpoint or Keynote. Make sure your name and contact details are included and save it with a sensible name - with your name – Portfolio - date (e.g. Soni_Speight_Portfolio_Jan2021) unless you have been given a specific naming format.

Adobe Acrobat

Once your images are ready to go, click Tools > Combine Files.

Click Add Files, navigate to your folder and select the images.


Drag them into the right order, then Combine.

Then Save.


Create the layout of your document, place your images into it and use the PDF presets to export – use the smallest file size if sending the pdf via email.


Although there are templates, it is best to use a blank white slide for each page of a portfolio. Keep it simple, you can add more than one image to a slide if they belong together e.g. they are the same character or project.
To get your PDF from Powerpoint choose File > Save As and select PDF from the File Format list.

In Keynote chose File> Export To> PDF.


Header image ©Soni Speight


 Soni Speight is a freelance illustrator and designer, and Illustrator Coordinator for SCBWI British Isles.

Find her on Twitter and Instagram

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