Course Description

Sketch of two characters acting out five different scenes.

Offered in Fall only.

CalArts' Visual Storytelling Portfolio Development Workshop is an eight-week online intensive designed to equip you with the tools necessary to achieve clear and engaging storytelling in your work. Some topics will include: character and specificity, composition, layout, staging, gesture, clarity, and fundamentals of storyboarding. Through various assignments, you will observe from life as well as film, work within the parameters of a "script", utilize your own original stories, and create strong story-driven work for your portfolios.

Assignments will vary from literal to abstract and will push you to break down stories into their simplest parts. Quality of drawing is not the focus in this course, but rather efficiency and clarity in drawing. Use of real media for assignments is not required but highly encouraged. Lectures to include demos, film clips and examples from art and media.

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.


Application for PDW in Visual Storytelling (course)

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 in Visual Storytelling
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
Course Supplies (you can work with traditional materials or digitally)
  • Paper or sketchbook (printer paper is fine)
  • Thin line drawing pens (no ball point pens)
  • Black Sharpie (fine point)
  • Student's choice of colors (markers, watercolors, chalk pastels)

Technical Capabilities

  • Computer w/ internet connection
  • Scanner or decent digital camera; images will be emailed size 72 DPI around 12" x 14"
  • Digital Drawing programs are allowed but not required
  • Sloppy cell phone pictures will not be accepted. Take the time to crop the image to be "scanner equivalent"