Portfolio requirements for Graphic Storytelling 

Your portfolio should represent you as an artist and storyteller and include your best work.

The portfolio requirements for GS are designed to allow applicants to showcase their skills in the main areas we work with on the course: Drawing, (Visual) Storytelling, World Building, and Pitching.

You are free to choose the medium of your drawings – traditional or digital. Please note that all dialogue and other text must be written in English.

Content requirements for Graphic Storytelling portfolio

1. Video introduction (max 3 minutes)

One of the key skills for a graphic storyteller is the ability to present themselves and their projects to potential clients – in other words: Pitching. Most of our graduates work as freelancers, and their ability to convey their ideas and solutions successfully is essential to sustaining their careers.

In this category, we are asking you to record a video introduction of yourself – an application letter in video form. Here are some suggestions for topics to cover (please don’t feel obligated to include all of them or to limit yourself to these):

  • Why are you applying, what made you choose this specific programme, and how does that choice tie in with your ambitions for the future?
  • How do you see your own strengths and weaknesses as a creative in terms of craft, vision, drive etc.? What are you especially hoping to improve at by studying at TAW?
  • What or who inspire(s) you as a creative person? Consider naming some favourite creators or works (comics, films, games, books …) and talking about how and why they inspire you.
  • Tell us about any relevant experience you may have, work or study or other. Anything from paid work to passion projects applies.
  • Formative experiences: Things you have done or that have happened to you, good or bad, that you think shaped you in terms of who you are now.

When reviewing the video, we will look at your ability to communicate succinctly and clearly about who you are and how you see yourself profiting from the course (Pitching).

We will not be judging the video based on image or sound quality, editing or other technical aspects – as long as you are in the frame and we can hear what you are saying. Feel free to record the video with your phone, a web camera or whatever else is easily accessible to you.

The video should be uploaded to an external site like YouTube or Vimeo and be password protected. Dropbox, Google Drive and similar file sharing services that require sign up to view the files may not be used for the video. Please place the link and password on the first page of your portfolio.
Remember to test that they work before submitting your application!


2. Sequential Storytelling (8 – 16 pages total)

Comics are an ideal medium for practicing (and showcasing) skills in key areas of the Graphic Storytelling course, specifically Drawing, (Visual) Storytelling, and World Building. For this part of the portfolio, we are asking you to create two different comics, one that is fiction and one that is non-fiction.

2a. First comic: Non-fiction (4-6 pages)

A comic about real world events or phenomena, where you use the comics form to concisely convey information about something that you find interesting – within history, science, the arts, psychology, or something completely different. The comic can be a neutral explanation of the topic of your choice or offer some kind of commentary on it.

Formal requirements:

  • The comic must include dialogue and/or captions.
  • The pages should be finished; color is optional.
  • Autobiography is not allowed – unless you are using yourself as an example of something you’re explaining (so: if you’re a twin and the comic is about twins, you are allowed to incorporate your own experiences as an example).

When reviewing the non-fiction comic, we will look at your ability to:

  • Create visuals that are technically strong, expressive, coherent in style and design, and communicate clearly (Drawing).
  • Use comics panels, panel-to-panel progressions, and page layouts to convey complex information in a compelling and readable way (Storytelling).


2b. Second comic: Fiction (4 - 10 pages)

A fiction short story, where style, genre, theme etc. is completely up to you. Try to create something that shows off who you are as a storyteller and what you like.

Formal requirements:

  • The pages should be finished; color is optional.
  • The story must have a clear beginning, middle, and end – it should not be the prologue to a 3000 page epic.

When reviewing the fiction comic, we will look at your ability to

  • Create visuals that are technically strong, expressive, coherent in style and design, and communicate clearly (Drawing).
  • Use comics panels, tiers, and pages to convey complex information in a compelling and readable way (Storytelling).
  • Design or research a setting for the world of your story and portray its inhabitants and environments in a way that is believable and compelling (World Building).


3. Illustration (6 pieces total)

In the Illustration category, you will be able to work more freely and creatively with tools and approaches than might be ideal for comics and to showcase your ability to compose more complex images, perhaps with multiple focal points (Drawing), as well as your ability to tell stories with pictures in service of a text that’s not your own (Storytelling).

Depending on your approach, you might also find opportunities to demonstrate your talents for character and environment design (World Building).


3a. Illustrations for a short story (5 illustrations)

Create 2 full-page illustrations and 3 vignettes for one of the following public domain short stories:

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper
Alice Worth Moore: A Carnival Jangle
Saki: The Open Window
The Girl Who Married a Star (fable)

We would like you to imagine you are creating the pieces for a new illustrated edition of the story, similar to the kinds of books published by, say, The Folio Society. 

For the “full page” pieces, use the landscape format portfolio page to show a spread from the book you are imagining with your illustration on the right or left hand side and the text describing the part of the story your image is meant to accompany on the opposite side. Similarly, for the “vignettes” – smaller illustrations, typically taking up half a page in a book or less, typically borderless and often focusing on just a few visual elements – we would like to see the text that would take up the rest of that page. Exactly how the text and vignette are arranged is up to you.

Formal requirements:

  • The illustrations should be finished; color is optinal.
  • The illustrations can be realistic of stylized, but they must relate to the text in some discernible way.

When reviewing the short story illustrations, we will look at your ability to

  • Create visuals that are technically accomplished, expressive, and well-composed (Drawing).
  • Convey or support the storytelling of the text visually while at the same time adding an extra layer to it (Storytelling).
  • Reflect or comment on the text through character and environment design (World Building), if applicable.


3b. Your work space in 2028 (1 illustration)

Create one illustration showing yourself in the place where you dream of working in the far-flung future of 2028. Is it a home office, a drawing studio, a big animation or game company, other? Give us a sense – through the drawing – of what your life is like then, what kind of work you’re doing, what kind of people you’re working with (if any). The drawing should take up a full page of your portfolio and be fully finished; color is optional.

This piece will showcase and be evaluated on your ability to

  • Create visuals that are technically accomplished, expressive, and well-composed (Drawing)
  • Communicate your dreams for the future (Storytelling).
  • Imagine what the professional world might possibly look like for you on the other side of a Graphic Storytelling bachelor degree (entrepreneurship, a component of Pitching).


4. Life drawing (min. 8 drawings)

Drawings from life of human beings, using whatever tools you prefer. We like to see a mix of everything from detailed studies of the human form to quick observational sketchbook pieces; at least 4 of the drawings should depict the naked human form.

When reviewing the life drawing pieces, we will look at your ability to

  • Understanding and convey the anatomy, proportions, and weight of the human figure (Drawing).
  • Capture and convey fluid, gestural motion (Drawing).


5. Writing (100 words)

Being able to write good prose (as in text) is an essential skill for a graphic storyteller, whether used in the context of comics, books or scripts (Storytelling) or to present ideas and projects in a compelling way (Pitching).

For this part of the portfolio, we are asking you to write a 100 word story. For inspiration, check out 100wordstory.org you will find that 100 words is very little to work with and so you will have to tell your “story” in a very concise, possibly lyrical way. That makes the form a good (albeit difficult!) test of your writing abilities. You are free to choose the subject of your text.

When reviewing your 100 Word Story, we will look at your ability to convey something – a mood, a series of events, a thought – in very few words, as well as your technical proficiency in prose writing (Storytelling).


6. Optional (max 5 pages)

This is where you can include additional work that didn't fit into the above categories, but that you still feel helps to show who you are creatively: drawings, animation, story ideas, graphic design, other creative projects. Here, you can showcase your skills in any of the categories.

Also, should you have relevant recommendations or references and wish to include them in your portfolio, this is the place to put them.