You can return to your original file, but you can
hardly ever use it exactly as it is. Working files are too
big, and in the wrong file format. This chapter provides
some suggestions for repurposing and optimizing your
existing artwork for your portfolio.
You're much more removed from
the print work in a digital portfo-
lio. Many of the subtle production
choices that can make or break a
great piece are simply lost in a
72-dpi image. Paper weight, fin-
ish, size, scale, varnish, binding—
all those cues are lost in the
digital world. The only things you
have left are shape, color, and
imagery. I've seen pieces online
that don't even begin to resemble
or represent the real thing.
Designers, as well as many artists and illustra-
tors, do more than create onscreen. They choose colors
and types of ink, select paper, and specify die-cuts.
Sometimes those choices are the ones that make a proj-
ect great. Unfortunately, finesse can be hard to capture
in a scan or photograph. Even with a large-sized image,
some details are a challenge to visualize onscreen. You
can accept the limited representation, and bring sam-
ples of special work to interviews. But doing that with
too many pieces negates the point of a digital portfolio.
And if the pieces are part of your best work, not showing them online hurts your
Repurposing is particularly attractive for oversized work, like a poster, that has
no special paper stock, but it can work in lots of other situations. What follows are a
few suggestions to illustrate possible solutions. If your knowledge of Adobe's CS appli-
cations is not quite comprehensive enough to imagine how to accomplish these ideas,
Appendix A has suggestions of resources that can help you.
• If you have an original file and a paper sample, scan in the latter and use it
as a texture with the original file.
• If the paper sample you chose is transparent or translucent, you can mock
up the finished piece and use a transparent layer to let a background slightly
show through. Experiment with blend modes to
avoid having the work lose saturation with the
The things that I bring to my print
work are often hard to photo-
graph. If I've done a piece that
has metallic inks, it might have
this mysterious glow in person,
but when it's printed in an annual
or turned into a JPEG on a website,
the shimmer is gone, and the ink
just looks lifeless.
• Using animation, you can show a piece at vari-
ous stages of opacity if it was printed both
front and back, or create the effect of turning
pages to show a transparent overlay.
• Shooting an oversized book can leave shadows
in the gutter, obscuring details. You can take a
two-page spread into Photoshop, and use a dis-