How do I improve my 3D design portfolio?

"I can't help feeling that I should give up and change career paths"

I left uni with a 2:1 degree in theatre design, and what I thought of at the time as a good portfolio. Now I am in the process of applying for graduate interships in any similar 3D design subjects that I can find, such as exhibition design and interior design, and I am realising my portfolio isn't as strong as I'd like, especially in the way of 3D design programmes.

So now I've hit a bit of a wall and I don't know what to do next. I feel that my only options are to spend a few months building up my portfolio and taking an extra courses to learn more design software programmes, or to go back to higher education and get more qualified.

But I also can't help feeling that I should give up and change career paths because if I haven't got a good portfolio by now, after A levels and a foundation and a 3 year degree, then will I ever?

— Anon

Expert answers

Kate Kneale 's reply:

Dont get too bogged down with the  big 3D  programmes.

What you need is to be able to communicate your design - use whatever works best for you.

If you think about the process you need to be able to think creatively - you need to communicate your ideas - you need to be able to translate your visuals into construction drawings. There are no hard and fast rules about how you do this. Most designers I work with will use a mix of traditional drawing and model-making and a suite of programmes.

SketchUp is useful and free - if you cant use it, download it and learn it. Use it with your drawing skills and photoshop. You need to think about how the visuals link to the contruction process. Do you have autocad skills? 

As a theatre designer you will be up against architects. If you are trying to get into exhibition design, they will probably have better technical skills, so you need to focus on the advantages you have. You will be better at thinking about multi-sensory environments and narrative design. Use this. 

Remember some people just want to design exhibitions - I will not be impressed if you are doing this because you cant work in theatre.

There is some really interesting work happening with performance and education in museums. Perhaps this could be a good way in?

Good luck!

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