Create a PDF Portfolio using Illustrator

Every semester, students ask how to assemble a PDF version of their portfolio to print or to email a potential employer. I used to teach Communications students the basics of InDesign just for this purpose. However, Adobe Illustrator’s capacity for multiple Artboards provides a much-appreciated alternative to learning a new application for this one, important task.

Before you start, you have to take stock of your resources. Resize and save all of your portfolio images in one folder. Keeping your images consistently sized will result in a continuous viewing experience of your portfolio. I recommend using one set of dimensions for horizontally oriented images, and one set of dimensions for vertically oriented images. This may require you to assess all of your images to determine dimensions that will work for you. Sometimes the smallest image size limits the dimensions within your portfolio. You can also stack images next to each other in order to use a larger amount of space on one page.

Figure out how many pages you want to include in your portfolio and draw a general plan on paper. Some people recommend that portfolios only include the top ten pieces, while others encourage up to twenty images showing a diversity of samples. Most designers and employers will agree that you should put your best work and your second best work on the first and last pages of your portfolio (though some reverse this order, where the second best work is on page one, and the best image is saved for last).

When you have a plan and a single folder containing all of your images, follow the steps using Adobe Illustrator that I demonstrate in the following video.

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