Course Description

Offered in Summer, Fall, and Spring.

CalArts' Portfolio Development Workshop for Artists and Animators is an eight-week online intensive designed to help you explore concept design and visual development for animation, and enhance your application portfolio for college animation programs. The focus here is less on making perfect drawings and more on giving you an open arena to explore and learn to love drawing while broadening creative ideation and output.

Each week, the instructor will introduce different illustration styles and examples from films to inspire new work and teach you about visual composition and storytelling. Weekly assignments based on these resources give you the opportunity to produce exaggerated character designs that can be used as concepts for future animations, 3D models, graphic novel ideas, and gallery work.

Portfolio Development Workshop class sessions and critiques are not live streamed. You are free to access the class materials each week at your convenience. You will work on your assignments on your own time and upload them to the class module on Access, a CalArts online learning platform, by a set deadline. At the end of the week, the instructor will give you direct feedback on submitted assignments with video critiques. Lectures and video critiques are pre-recorded.

Application Instructions

Enrollment in this workshop is based on the review of:

  • 5 images of original artwork, consisting of drawings or paintings. At least 2 of the images must be life or figure drawing examples. These examples should be from observation—not from a photograph, memory or imagination.

For more information on what we are looking for in life drawing examples, click here

Applications must be accompanied by a $10 fee.


You must be 14 years old or older to take part in this workshop.


"John's advice in the online portfolio class was awesome. It truly helped me open up ways of drawing I didn't know I had in me."



Application for PDW for Artists and Animators (course- fall)

Application Deadline: September 18, 2020

Enrollment and Payment Deadline: September 21, 2020

Enroll Now - Select a section to enroll in

Section Title
Portfolio Development Workshop for Artists and Animators
Sep 28, 2020 to Nov 27, 2020
Delivery Options
Course Fee(s)
Tuition non-credit $1,000.00 Click here to get more information
Section Notes

To complete your work in this class you will also need:

  • A computer with an internet connection
  • A scanner or decent digital camera
  • Adobe Photoshop is a plus, but not essential
  • Drawing pens (no ballpoint pens; no pencils or erasers)
  • A sketchbook
  • A pad of large drawing paper
  • Any small watercolor set
  • A bottle of water proof black or India ink
  • Two paint brushes suitable for watercolors or ink: one small, one medium size
  • Chalk pastels (optional)
  • A three-ring binder with 100 plastic sleeves