Requirements by Major

Your portfolio is the single most important aspect of your application. Your portfolio must be oriented specifically to the one major for which you are applying.


In today’s media-saturated world, everyone is scrambling to put their businesses, causes, products, messages, and brands top of mind with consumers. In the Advertising program at ArtCenter, we teach students how to craft campaigns and make media that will strategically expand a client’s reach, connecting a message with its market in fun, impactful, and enduring ways. An Advertising portfolio should demonstrate innovative and strategic approaches to initiating two-way engagement between audiences and businesses, products, causes, or brands.

An Advertising portfolio should present media crafted in service of connecting a smartly defined message with the public. Applicants should demonstrate their media-making skills with at least 4-5 different campaigns. This media could include creating strategic social media campaigns, video content, promotional stunts, print ads, in-store experiences, online experiences, or others. These campaigns could promote a specific brand or product, a call to action for a cause, a political campaign, an event, or other topic. Think about some of the things you’re most passionate about getting out into the world and create content that will allow others to come into contact with these things. You can work with well-known, existing brands, rethinking and improving their existing media presence, or with lesser-known brands that you want to bring more broadly into the public awareness.

A few suggestions for your campaigns might be to: (1) think about some of your favorite companies, causes, products, or brands and create media that will allow others to come into contact with what you love about them, (2) critique existing media that doesn’t quite work and consider how you might improve on the approach.

For each project, show us examples of the ideas you generated before deciding on your final solution(s). Each campaign should include these process examples as well as your final pieces. Feel free to explore your ideas through a variety of formats and options. Consider both words and images. Your concepts are more important than the “finish” on your work, but try to keep in mind the visual impact of your pieces.

Optional: If you would like an additional opportunity to show us how you communicate using images and words, please create 3 memes and include them at the end of your portfolio. These memes do not need to relate to any of the projects in your portfolio.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Entertainment Design

There are three individual tracks within the Entertainment Design program.

Your portfolio will vary depending on the track you choose. Read the instructions below for the track to which you are applying.


Concept design involves the full range of storytelling, from developing the characters to the architecture, landscape, animals, vehicles and objects in the world of that story. The task of a concept designer for the entertainment industry is to be able to provide an infinite number of design variations of characters, environments, vehicles and props for stories taking place in the past, present or future.

Your admissions portfolio should reflect this interest and provide an example of your current abilities toward this task. Include examples of your original design ideas created for a story of your invention or an existing story. Your main focus should be in the creation of original designs that are well communicated through drawings and renderings.

Examples of your range of skills in the designing of all four of the major subject topics, environments, characters, vehicles and props should be included in your portfolio. Please include both the early concept design sketches and more finished renderings of your design ideas. It is important to show your thinking process through a range of sketches and renderings that progress from rough to more finished. Emphasis should be placed more on well-drawn original design variations. Sketchbooks are a welcome addition, and can be included as one PDF. In addition, please include at least 5 figure drawings from a live model.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.


Students in the Animation track may follow a number of specific paths once enrolled, but central to each path is the ability to communicate through drawing. Whether you are interested in character animation, storyboarding, modeling, art direction, or lighting for animation, we look for certain portfolio skills as outlined here. If you are familiar with these different career tracks within the Animation Industry, be sure to mention which areas you’re most interested in as a part of the application essay asking you to outline your educational goals.

  • Story Pitch. Give a concise (1-2 sentence) synopsis of an original storyline that will be the basis of your portfolio. Provide a series of storyboard sketches outlining the arc of the story.
  • Character designs. Design at least 3 characters central to your story pitch. Each character should be presented on a page of fully rendered drawings conveying the movements, expressions, attitudes and idiosyncrasies that express the character’s personality within the context of the storyline. Include reference images, inspiration, character development/exploration. You can also include other character design projects you have previously completed.
  • Finished keyframes. Create at least 5 fully rendered illustrations that convey critical, narrative moments from your storyline, depicting your characters in dramatic moments throughout the story’s arc. These drawings should show your use of composition and color while also conveying a sense for the aesthetic considerations surrounding the characters, including depicting big environments as well as props/objects.
  • Figure drawings. Include at least 12 drawings from a live model. This should include gestural sketches as well as more finished drawings that demonstrate use of light, shadow, and perspective based on longer poses. Include faces, hands, and feet.
  • Sketchbooks. Include several pages from your sketchbook, focusing on observational drawings such as animals, people, locations.
  • Animated Short Film. If you have already created animated short films in stop motion, 2D, or 3D, please include this in your portfolio as a Quicktime file. This work does not need to connect to your Story Pitch.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Game Design

Please submit the following items as a demonstration of your potential as a Game Designer.

  1. A game concept proposal based on your original idea. This must include, but is not limited to:
    • A one-minute video of you presenting/pitching the game
    • A short paragraph that details the main features of the game, including the target platform (console or mobile) and audience
    • Description of the different categories/layers of navigation and movement available to the player (main mechanics), shown through drawings and sketches of these elements
    • A brief description of the “game flow,” detailing the overall structure of the game and the ways in which levels build and progress into one another (this can be presented both through sketches and written description)
    • An art direction brief describing the visual aesthetic and design of the game’s story world, including visual research/reference as well as sketches and/or renderings of sample characters and environments
    • A description of “five minutes of gameplay” that takes us through a narrative or puzzle sequence in your game, utilizing written descriptions, sketches, or renderings

    If you have a working prototype of your game running on PC or Mac, please feel free to include (it should not require specific software or hardware; detailed instructions for installation and interaction, including platform requirements, must be included).

  2. A written analysis of a recently published video game (console or mobile). This document should not exceed three pages and must include a short written description of the game, a list of the game’s key features, and your opinion of what works and what does not, and what you would approach differently if you had designed the game.
  3. A short essay about a game (non-videogame) that you like. This document should not exceed one page and must include a brief description of the game, a short paragraph that details what you like about the game and your opinion of what makes the game fun.
  4. Examples of other game ideas you have developed, including brief written descriptions and sketches.
  5. Examples of additional creative work such as drawings, graphic design, or other personal work that gives us a sense for you as an artist or designer.

Environmental Design

Submit a minimum of three spatially or 3D-oriented projects that show solutions to a specific spatial design challenge. These should include drawings and sketches, along with photographs of models that demonstrate an understanding of 3D space, technical skills and design sensibility.

Examples of work may include interior design, furniture design, lighting design, set design and architectural design projects. Limited examples of drafting or technical drawing are acceptable, but must be accompanied by 3D representations. Applicants will be considered for their design concepts, as well as basic drawing and model-making skills.

A descriptive paragraph explaining the design concept and solution should be included with each project submitted. Quantity is not as important as quality. For instructions on submitting your work, follow the submission options in How to Submit Your Work.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.


Submit at least two completed film or video projects that demonstrate your visual narrative storytelling abilities as a filmmaker. The total running time of the work you submit should be at least five minutes but should not exceed 20 minutes.

Submitted work can include short films of any genre, documentaries, or multiple commercials or music videos, but all work must demonstrate your narrative storytelling abilities. Your work should also demonstrate competency in cinematography, lighting, staging, editing and sound. At least one of your projects should employ sync sound.

Submit only projects on which you played a key creative role as director, cinematographer or editor; be sure to clearly indicate the role you played on each project. Portfolio work is only accepted via link to Vimeo. You can email your link to Be sure to include your full name in the email. In the written statement accompanying your application, keep in mind that we are particularly interested in learning what inspires you to make films, what sorts of films you want to make and a brief description of your favorite filmmakers.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Fine Art

Include a representative selection of your work in any media. In addition to submitting examples of foundation skills that demonstrate particular abilities, it’s important to also present personal work that reveals experimentation.

Work can include all forms of drawing, representational and nonobjective painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, film, video and installation documentation. Conceptual work and artist statements are also welcome; include your statement as part of the application. You can also include 10 to 15 of the best pages from your sketchbook as one PDF.

Students seeking the Illustration minor should include figure drawing from a live model.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Graphic Design

Include layouts or comprehensives for projects such as posters, brochures, editorial design, package design, motion graphics, web design and identity systems. Pieces that exhibit a grasp of an issue, an individual point of view, or a unique approach to a problem are helpful. Evidence of an understanding of—and a passion for—typography is a must.

Provide process work that shows the development of the chosen idea and various solutions. Samples of logotypes, lettering, life drawing and general color and design assignments should be included. A combination of finished pieces and sketches is desirable. If submitted work has been produced, provide an explanation of the role played in the creation of the work (overall design, production only, etc.).

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.


Submit 10 to 15 figure drawings from a live model that include both gestural and more developed pieces. Other observational drawings from life are also required such as self-portraits or portraits of others, sketches of animals and scenes from nature and cityscapes. Include imaginative drawings that demonstrate your passion for and understanding of illustration in both color and black and white.

Submit three or more pieces that highlight drawing or painting skills, and show the development of a story or concept. Sketchbooks that display a range of interests and skills are welcome and we recommend a limit of 10 to 15 sketchbook pages submitted as one PDF.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Interaction Design

Interaction Design is the study and craft of how people interact with products, systems and services. It is about shaping digital things for people’s use. Submissions, therefore, should demonstrate a keen interest in user experience, along with your personal creativity and vision.

Equal parts thinker and maker, Interaction Design candidates should provide at least three projects that incorporate the following:

    • Projects that demonstrate interactivity and are screen-based or physical objects, or both. Each project should include a statement or explanation, sketches that show the development of your ideas, followed by a more finished rendition of your final concept.
    • Examples of screen-based projects include: mobile or social applications, web sites, gestural interfaces, and games.
    • Examples of physical projects include consumer electronics, smart products, art or environmental projects. If you have previously worked on collaborative projects that have made it to production, include a statement about your role in the design and any URLs, working versions, videos or multiple images that show how your interactive project works. Your overall goal should be to include examples of work that exhibit an understanding of—and a passion for—user experience.
    • Including your process work is an important way for you to show the development of a chosen idea and how you arrived at your solution. Process work can include: sketching, user flows, personas, wireframes and screen shots or mockups. While supporting written explanations are an essential element of your projects, your visual representations should be the primary way you express your ideas.

If you have no previous experience in Interaction Design, consider one or more of the following ideas for a project to include with other examples of your design work.

  • Redesign an existing web site, mobile app, or other interfaces and make it better and more user-friendly. Show the elements of your re-design through drawings, photography, photo-collage, digital images or any combination of these. Include a wireframe layout through simple line sketches.
  • Identify a particular challenge in everyday life and design an app that specifically addresses that need. Demonstrate through sketches.
  • Design the interface for a piece of hardware (electronic product) that utilizes technology or interfaces in a new and innovative way. Provide sketches and final ideas.
  • Redesign an old and obsolete consumer item using modern technology and interfaces to make it relevant for today’s world. Include an image of the original along with your sketches for the new design.

All applicants should feel free to include other examples of your art and design work such as drawings, graphic design or any sort of personal work.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Photography and Imaging

Submit a minimum of 24 black-and-white, color, or digital images. Any combination of these is acceptable, but submitting only black-and-white work is discouraged. You may include related contact sheets when applicable. Contact sheets are not counted as part of the 24 photos.

The images should clearly convey your idea. They should communicate your intention in creating these images and display your technique in doing so.

A variety of subjects and concept explorations are encouraged. Some images should include people as subject matter, set up in an environment where lighting has been considered. The work should show an ability to create original imagery rather than only to document existing scenes.

We want to see a variety of subjects in various environmental circumstances, some indoors or in the studio, some outdoors, and/or some in locations that are intentionally chosen. We suggest that you not include multiple images of the same location or multiple pictures of the same person.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Product Design

Submit sketches and finished drawings of three or more original product designs (furniture, lighting, medical and computer equipment, or consumer products such as coffee makers, sporting goods, communications devices or personal stereos). Each project should be grouped as a separate PDF.

Emphasis should be on the function of the product, as well as the aesthetics and originality of the design. Projects should show a thorough researching and exploration of a product from beginning through intermediate sketches to a final finished rendering of the product.

Inclusion of photos of 3D models is optional. Of primary importance are exploratory sketches that show a variety of solutions and ideas for each product presented. Sketchbook pages should be scanned and grouped in a single PDF.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Transportation Design

Portfolio submissions should demonstrate a passion for and curiosity about the future of transportation, including cars, trucks, public transportation, boats, motorcycles or alternative mobility.

Submit drawings and sketches of your original design concepts, signed and dated. These should represent a variety of types of vehicles with a minimum of four or five projects. Inclusion of designs for non-vehicular products is encouraged as well. Drawing skills should be displayed as the primary means for communication of ideas.

Submit ideas in proper format: title and goal of project, research, audience, preliminary and final sketches.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

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