You’re currently reading Chapter 2 of The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Fashion Portfolio (in a weekend)

The number one mistake many designers make when putting their fashion portfolio PDF together is creating HUGE files that are impossible to email to brands. In this chapter, we’ll go through a few simple tricks to make sure your fashion portfolio PDF is easy to share, plus we’ll cover some bonus tips on sizing your images for the web, what software (Illustrator? Photoshop? InDesign?) you should use to make your layouts, and how to make sure colors on screen print accurately.

How do you make sure your files aren’t huge (for emailing)?

There are a couple ways you can do this depending on how you’re compiling your work.

Bottom line, sometimes vector artwork can create really large files, especially if you have complex files with tons of anchor points (think: detailed / textured graphics / prints).

The best way to do this is to export the vector artwork (or even entire layouts) as JPGs and then merge them into your PDF.

Depending on your version of Illustrator and Acrobat, the settings and how to do this may vary slightly, but it should look something like this:

Fashion Portfolio book by Sew Heidi of Successful Fashion Freelancer

If yours looks different, Google “how to export a JPG from Illustrator [xx version]” and “how to merge JPGs into a PDF in Acrobat [xx version]”.

What specs should you use to maximize on screen presentation?

When it comes to on screen resolution, the standard choice for optimal viewing and file size is 72 DPI or PPI (Dots / Pixels Per Inch). For reference, this is in contrast to 300 DPI which is use for printing.

That means for every square inch of space, there are 72 or 300 pixels or dots. Any less than 72 for screen and 300 for print, and things can start to look pixelated or blurry.

For your online fashion portfolio, 72 DPI is sufficient, although I know some fashion designers who like to use 150 DPI, the middle setting between print and screen. It’s a happy medium between better resolution (in case the recipient zooms in or prints a copy) and file size [10].

[10] Higher resolution will mean higher file size.

Now when you set your DPI, there is another variable to consider:

What size is the page / artwork that you’re exporting?

A sketch at 100px X 100px @ 72 DPI will display tiny, while a sketch at 1000px X 1000px @ 72 DPI will display huge. They’re both the same resolution, but they’re very different sizes.

Here are my best tips:

If you’re using a platform or template like StylePortfolios or LinkedIn:

Follow the recommended sizes on their site. If they don’t have them, move onto the next suggestion.

If you’re creating the pages for your own website:

A good rule of thumb for most desktop / laptop browsers for “full page [11]” layouts will look something like this:

Width: 800-1000px.

Height: 1000px (if your layout is any taller, consider splitting it into two images)

[11] I reference “full page” in relations to “full pages” in your printed book. If you’re showing smaller bits, like just one flat sketch, you’ll probably want to use a smaller measurement.

If you’re creating your digital fashion portfolio as a PDF:

  • Set your page size to standard printer paper size (8.5×11 or A4)
  • Save each page as a JPG
  • Merge JPGs into one PDF (and easily adjust the page order based on the recipient…more that on soon)


If you’re not sure how to export and adjust settings for JPGs, here are tutorials for Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign.

And on that note, you’re probably wondering exactly what we’re covering in the next chapter…

Should you use Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop to put your fashion portfolio together digitally?

Should you use Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop to put your fashion portfolio together digitally?

Choose the path of least resistance for you.

If it’s just a page or two? Illustrator might be easier.

If you’re mocking up a whole book and know InDesign? That may be your best option (if you already know how to use it).

If you love Photoshop and that’s where you’re comfortable doing layouts (no comment), then run with it.

Whatever you do, just choose the easiest option. Your fashion portfolio project is already feeling stressful, the last thing you should do is worry about learning the “right” software.

How do you know the color on your screen isn’t going to be compromised when printing pages for your fashion portfolio?

Unfortunately, you don’t!

There are a lot of variables, and color will look different on your screen vs my screen vs your coworker’s iPhone screen. The same is true for printers.

Not only will color print different on different printers, it can print different based on paper, and even external factors like weather (humidity, temperature, etc). Having a screen and printer that is calibrated is expensive and time consuming to setup and maintain.

Plus, there are some colors that are impossible to print (like neons) unless you have a full blown professional printing press.

So, what do you do? You get it close by printing a few variations, adjusting a few times if needed, and then you move on.

I’ve always printed sheets of color swatches that have a couple options for each color and compare Pantone swatches to the paper printout to pick the best option. I’ve used this method for catalog, line sheets, and presentations, and it works great.

My swatch pages look like this:

Fashion Portfolio book by Sew Heidi of Successful Fashion Freelancer

Now…don’t over tweak this. It’s impossible to get perfect, and anyone who’s been in the industry for a while knows this and will understand. Besides, you’ll be including fabric and color swatch clippings in your printed book (yes, you should), and any hiring manager will know this is the color reference. As long as it’s visually close enough to be considered the same color, it’s fine.

The last (and arguably most important) tech tip: BACKUP YOUR WORK!

My favorite (and the easiest) way to do this? Just use Dropbox (my one solution that solves many problems). A free account may be enough storage for you, and if not, the yearly fee is reasonable.

It automatically keeps everything synced on folders you choose on your computer. Plus, you can easily access and share your files from anywhere.

Go to Chapter 3: Fashion Portfolio Overload: How to Stay Organized