Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

Every year around this time, Designer Vaca opens up for registration and since this is usually the only design-related event I attend all year, I want my portfolio to be updated and looking as polished as possible. I registered last week and it’s always a good kick in the ass to get things in shape!

Portfolios are a popular search term and I can see why — as creative business owners, we need them to get more work! I made some updates to the Branch portfolio over the weekend and hope these quick and easy tips get you inspired as you’re working on yours.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

1. Larger Images

Three years ago when I launched my portfolio, the sizing of images was a lot smaller. My early projects were sized at 1000 pixels wide but with retina displays becoming more common, I noticed my images weren’t as crisp as they could be. I just resized every project in my portfolio up to 1800 pixels wide in the hopes that even though they may take a touch longer to upload, I won’t have to redo any projects for the foreseeable future. Save yourself time by going bigger now!

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

2. Introduction Graphics

One thing my portfolio was lacking was a sense of cohesion from project to project since the work spanned over such a long period of time. I just made an additional graphic for the beginning of each project with an intro that briefly sums up the brand. Whether you’re doing a digital or print portfolio, an introduction is a simple way to add whitespace and let the design work breathe.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

3. New Color Swatches

In the past, I used various charts to show a brand’s colors within a project but once again, these were all over the place style-wise. After doing some research, I really liked the way Brand Minute showed colors with Pantone-inspired swatches so I’ve switched over to this style. Whichever way works for you, make it a consistent, signature element from project to project.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

4. Better Mockups

Over the last year, mockups have gotten much better. The detail these days is incredibly realistic, whether you’re showing a new line of t-shirts, beauty products or stationery. I use mockups to showcase finished projects because they help me stay consistent, repeating certain visual elements, colors and lighting styles throughout the graphics. I am a fan of Pixeden but also buy a lot of pieces off Creative Market, like this set I used to create visuals for Kate’s new essential oils.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

5. More Flat Lays

Showing a logo only gives the viewer so much information about a project — seeing the pieces in use and how the varying elements work together really helps them understand the breadth of your work. These can be time consuming but well worth it to break up the simpler images and increase visual interest. I like pulling elements in from various mockup sets and arranging them in new configurations so nothing feels too canned. The key is to make these scenes your own.


As creatives, it’s our jobs to show and explain to potential clients what we can do — and our portfolios are a look into not just what we’ve done but what we want more of in the future.

Sometimes, I feel that putting together a portfolio is the hardest project I’ve ever done. Do you, as well? Doing work for yourself always somehow feels more monumental and stressful, doesn’t it?

Making the time is hard — it means stepping away from something you enjoy and investing it towards your business, with no guarantee of a return. But, as more of the right clients begin to roll in, it is always worth it when you’re able to take on more of the work you enjoy.

Your turn: Do you have any portfolio questions? Let me know in the comments!
Featured project: Kate Eckman by We Are Branch.

9 Responses to Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

  1. Misaki Shimizu says:

    I never really bothered about an online portfolio (i know!!) and I decided to finally start my own blog, so everything will be slowly build up during the next months.
    So I just hope, no one judges too hard, when I cannot present such good design portfolios until DesignerVACA starts.

    Nonetheless, I hope I can meet lots of inspirational new ladies and that we’re having a lot of fun there :)

    • Shauna says:

      Ahhhh, I am so excited to hear that you’re going to be starting a blog! And I only updated my portfolio now because I knew I would probably never get around to it otherwise…..but you have plenty of time! And it’s not like having an online portfolio is required or anything. 😉 The reason I keep going back to Designer Vaca year after year is because it’s the most welcoming, nonjudgmental retreat I’ve ever been a part of. Can’t wait for you to experience it and of course….make s’mores! Ha!

      • Misaki Shimizu says:

        Thank you! I tried it again and again, but the voice in my head kept nagging so I never pushed through. This time I set the goal, to do it for a year and see where it gets me and how I like it, so I know for sure haha.

        Thank you, that puts a little bit of weight off my shoulders.
        Will you be staying in the Ace Hotel for a whole week?

        Btw I love the latest projects I saw on instagram, I need to make time to check out the branch portfolio soon 😀

        I can’t wait for our s’mores evening! Happy times ahead ♥♥♥

        • Shauna says:

          Its always the easiest to put off your own projects, huh? I am still fighting procrastination with a bunch of things I find really important but am a little scared to take on. And I’ll be at the Ace just the nights of the event. I’ll be honest, I find it a bit more overpriced for what it is since there are much better hotels around town that have better food, service, etc. Let me know if you need some recommendations. 😉

          And I’ll have Joey pick up s’mores supplies for us…you should have seen us last year, car-less, sitting around the fire pit, googling s’mores making supplies! Will be better prepared this year, for sure! Ha.

          P.S. Excited to FINALLY meet you! Its about damn time! 😉

          • Misaki Shimizu says:

            It is, since you can ignore your own deadlines without worrying hahaha.
            I believe you can do these things, once you sit down and just go for it 😉

            Alright, then I don’t need to stay there for more days as well. But still you are in Palm Springs for more days, right?
            Thanks, I’ll come back to you 😉

            Awwww you are so kind! I can’t wait to launch with you around the fire and have some nice chats ❤❤

            I really want to meet you as well ❤❤❤

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