(NEW) How to create a great interior design portfolio

How to create an interior design portfolio

Whether you are a beginner in the design world or a mature interior designer this article can help you with some basic steps in creating your first portfolio; also you may find here some fresh and interesting ideas for an existing one. Some paragraphs here I took from my best-selling book “The SKETCH“. Enjoy!

P.S. Two very special gifts are waiting for you at the end of the article.

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Hi, I’m Olga!

I bring secrets of hand rendering from the best Russian Art Academy to interior designers all over the world!

Check my interior drawings here


You need a portfolio to show people so that they can see what your design skills are and what your expertise is. It should be professionally looking and attractive from a design perspective, yes, but content is king, never forget about this, that’s why I’m going to be covering here necessary things to include in your interior design portfolio.

To begin with, let’s define your «target audience» as that will affect the content. Who will see your portfolio? Is it an employer, a potential client, or maybe people from interior design college you want to apply? Think about it and then you can create a killer portfolio that will blow their minds! Remember, your interior design portfolio can actually prove you are a professional without you saying a word! Your portfolio can also set you apart from other designers and present your work in the best possible light. Visuals speak loud. Design speaks even louder.


In this article I will cover:

  • Interior design student’s portfolio

  • Interior designer’s portfolio

  • Interior decorator’s portfolio

  • Portfolio for you to apply for interior design school/college/university

  • Portfolio formats

  • Importance of hand rendering for interior designers

  • Resources (books, examples)


Interior design student’s portfolio

Are you a beginner in the design world? Do you lack experiences? Then in your portfolio, you can obviously show off your school/university assignments that you really like. Select your best projects that you are most proud of, show your best work. Five to seven projects are usually enough.

Let’s assume that your «target audience» is an employer. On the first page of your portfolio, it’s a good idea to include your photo and resume. Make sure to keep your resume nice and relatively short. This is a great way to start out your portfolio as it gives a great overview of your skills. Plus, your resume should be attractive, take your time and check some design resume templates online (like this one) or create one yourself.

Visuals speak loud. Design speaks even louder.

Next, continue with your projects (commercial design, hospitality industry, residential projects), then you can include paid projects you did on the side if you have ones. Make sure you have correct categories displayed. The important thing is to keep everything clean and crisp as it will make your portfolio look professional. You should prove with your beautiful presentation that you are a skilful interior designer.

Include pictures of some design boards, you’ve had created, because it’s a lot easier to carry around pictures as it shows the work well enough, plus it gives your future employer a really good overview of your skills.


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Be sure to demonstrate your technical skills, include your CAD drawings, show that you can draw out and design a plan, add a couple of electrical drawings and any other special drawings or special skills you may have.

Another great idea is to demonstrate a progression of a project from initial concept to final design. Here you can show your very first sketches, mood boards, AutoCAD floor plans, and any other mechanical plans, elevations, and 3D renderings. At the very end of the portfolio, you can have your references.

If you can sketch and make perspective drawings and hand renderings, include them as well. Clients really love hand drafts as this ability to draw makes them think that you’re an Artist. Show your wide range of talents.

If you struggle with hand rendering and want to master sketching with markers and perspective drawing, check out my ecourses for beginners and for pros.

You might want to check my top favourite marker sets for sketching on my Resources page here.

Drawing in 1-point perspective from my ecourse  “BASE“

Drawing in 1-point perspective from my ecourse “BASE“


Interior designer’s portfolio

Please remember that interior design is not the same as interior decorating, that is the one big mistake people make all the time. Some customers really think that we just select pillow cushions, and blankets, and picking wall colours all day long. To be true, that is about 10% of what we actually do. Interior design is essentially like architecture, in some countries, it’s even called «interior architecture». You can get your diploma in interior decorating in 2-3 years, whereas interior design typically is a four to six-year degree program.

In interior design, you learn about constructions, floor plans, history of interior design, styles, functionality, ergonomics, lighting, colour theory, client communication, building codes, mechanical systems. It’s a lot more than just designing a room. In this article, I will cover the decorator’s portfolio as well so keep reading.

Well, here, in an interior designer’s portfolio, your «target audience» can be both a potential employer or a client.

First, let’s talk if it is an employer

Looking for a position in interior design or architecture firm? Your resume, in that case, should cover your educational background, experience, and qualifications. My recommendation is to focus on your professional skills in this type of portfolio.

For example, you can list your skills such as:

  • AutoCAD/ArchiCAD/Revit/Google SketchUp drafting and rendering

  • 3DS MAX rendering + Vray

  • Sketching and hand rendering

  • Construction management, etc

It’s also a good idea to demonstrate a progression of a project from the concept to the final design, show your sketches, sample design boards, floor plans, and any other mechanical plans, elevations, and final 3D renderings.

interior design portfolio blog

Now, let’s talk if it is a client and if you already have some experience

Your resume here can cover not only your experience, educational background, and qualifications but also your design philosophy. Remember to add contacts or your business card.

Include client recommendations if you have any, testimonials work better than anything.

Show what your customer wants, if he came to you for a residential project, show him your completed projects of apartments, studios, duplexes, houses etc. I mean at least 80% of your portfolio should be residential, other 20% you can make commercial if you wish.

Try to include real photos, not only 3D renderings, layouts, mood boards and drawings, as photos of completed projects will dramatically enrich your portfolio and gain the trust of the customer. Every time you finish a project, hire a photographer or a friend of yours who can make professional photos of your accomplished interior.

Focus on visuals: photos, 3D views, hand renderings, and sketches, clients really love it. Try not to overwhelm your customer with technical drawings and AutoCAD layouts, the majority of them won’t understand all that stuff.

Here I used Chartpak and Copic markers.

Here I used Chartpak and Copic markers.

Include project location with its start and completion dates, describe the client’s directive. Keep it short and sweet. You can use here «before» and «after» photos.

If you have any publications in interior design magazines, design awards, include them as well. Add certificates and any other documents that show your accomplishments.

The best interior designer with the worst sales skills will never have as much business as the worst interior designer with the best sales skills.

You want to sell with your portfolio your creative services and your expertise. Remember that the best interior designer with the worst sales skills will never have as much business as the worst interior designer with the best sales skills. Think about what your client really wants and needs and how you are going to be able to deliver on those wants and needs. How he will benefit from you rather than the other interior designer? What value do you bring to the table?

Another important thing is to keep your portfolio up-to-date, so check it once a year or every other year and delete some outdated projects and include your new designs. If you don’t want to offer it, don’t show it, let it be your mantra for the portfolio creation process. I mean if your goal is to work on restaurants and hotels in a contemporary style, don’t show your clients examples of residentials in classic.


Interior decorator’s portfolio

So you are a brand new interior decorator and you don’t have a portfolio built up yet. Let’s assume that your «target audience» is a potential customer. If you have not yet been able to do your first real design project, my advice is to create an imaginary one, but following all the steps of a real project.

You can include some educational projects you’ve done such as private, commercial, hospitality interiors. The simplest and fastest way to fill in your portfolio with projects is to create mood boards. It’s not the most sustainable option, but if you are on a deadline it can be the most effective solution for you. Visuals speak loudly, they really do, people absolutely love to see visuals! Why do you think Instagram and Pinterest are so popular these days?

If you don’t want to offer it, don’t show it.

Spend a couple of days and create mood boards for imaginary clients; for example, dream up a studio apartment for a young couple, a living room for an architect, an apartment for fashion designer and so on. Create all sorts of rooms and spaces for whoever you can dream up. Take it seriously, think about these people and what their lives are. What you envision their space to be? Create a bunch of mood boards and put those on your portfolio.

A great idea would be to accompany those mood boards with floor plans in order to show your technical skills and knowledge of ergonomics. A huge benefit to doing that is that you can nail down your process so you can know how much time it takes you so in a situation with a real and not fake client you know how to charge properly for your expertise.


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Portfolio for you to apply for interior design school/college/university

You need a good portfolio to get accepted into interior design school or university. Usually, you have to have good grades as well because it’s a competitive program.

In this case, your «target audience» is, as you can probably guess, selection committee. First, I would recommend checking their website, most programs will have a list of requirements that they would like to see.

They want it clean and simple, just show your artistic abilities so that these people know that you do have some sort of design background. The main thing here is to practice your perspective drawing (especially 1 and 2-point perspective), floor plan drafting. Check my free ecourse where I cover basics of 1 and 2-point perspective.

My marker drawing on A4 format

My marker drawing on A4 format

Usually, you had to go for an interview and show them pieces of artwork, life drawings, classic still-life drawings, maybe Photoshop collages, you have to show your artistic abilities and that you could drop. Just collect your art pieces, make photos of them. You can simply create a digital portfolio in Word or PowerPoint by labelling your art pieces (add sizing and description, for ex. 50x60 cm, oil on canvas, name, etc). When entering an interior design school it is a great advantage that you have those drawing skills.

Remember that each design school’s committee wants the best possible students to study in that school because their successful graduates and their testimonials are their best ads and marketing tools.

Good luck to you if you are currently applying for colleges or universities!


Portfolio format

There are all sorts of portfolio formats:

  • Wire-bound presentations

  • Foam core/foamboard mounted prints

  • Video presentations

  • Digital version (link to iCloud or Google Drive doc, PDF version)

  • Online portfolio on your website (check these examples)

If you choose a printed version I would recommend horizontal A3 format (it is portfolio classic) as in square, A4 or vertically oriented format it’s harder to make a good composition and show your projects properly. Make sure you use high-quality images for your portfolio so they look nice when printed. Use high-quality paper, the feeling even texture of your portfolio, fonts, and colour brightness matters.

Online or PDF format is so popular now, it’s eco-friendly and it’s biggest advantage is that colours look so much deeper and brighter in comparison with the printed version.

You can create your portfolio in Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, InDesign, Apple Pages, Keynote, PowerPoint. Select the program you love and feel familiar with.



You might find these links helpful in order to create the best possible portfolio:

Book «Design Portfolios»: link

Portfolio examples on Pinterest: link

Inspirational examples on link


Well, my creative friend, I hope you enjoyed this article, please let me know your thoughts on it in the comments below.

P.S. My dear Reader, please leave your comments below and share this article on social. Thanks in advance and good luck with your portfolio! I’m sure it will look amazing!


© Olga Sorokina, 2018





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What is perspective in drawing? Perspective basics for interior designers

what is perspective drawing

Here, we will familiarize ourselves with the most extraordinary and most exciting field of descriptive geometry and will discover two main types of perspective – the most important skill in interior sketching.


Perspective is an area of descriptive geometry. Not many people are keen on learning descriptive geometry at school and for many it is synonymous with boring technical tasks and dull routine. Perspective is an intriguing subject, full of surprising secrets and is absolutely essential for interior designers. It is this knowledge that will let you work wonders on paper allowing you to create exciting views of interiors and to reflect your ideas in the most effective way.

Perspective is the basic and most fundamental knowledge for sketching. It will help you deliver your projects expertly. Without it you will get nowhere – if you don’t know the laws of perspective, then you lack the foundations, which means you cannot move on, and no rendering technique or stylistic device will help you out if you don’t have a clear understanding of how to plot a space. The eye of a man has an admirable organization and it is thanks to the laws of geometry, that we can put down on paper or visualize the real world in the way our brain perceives it.

2 point perspective interior

Types of perspective

What types of perspective are there and which ones are of greatest importance to interior sketching?

There are many types of perspective. To name but a few: aerial perspective, frontal perspective (or 1-point perspective), angular perspective (or 2-points perspective or oblique view), perspectives with 3, 4, 5 and even 6 vanishing points. So, which ones are of the greatest value to interior designers?

First of all, it is the frontal perspective (it is sometimes called a perspective with one vanishing point), secondly, there is oblique view or angular perspective (with two vanishing points) and, finally, aerial perspective (or tonal perspective). If the first two allow us to correctly draw an interior, the last one will enable you to fill your drawing with air and convey three-dimensionality of space. Once we master the basics, we can address more complex types of combined perspective – with three vanishing points, and various three-dimensional effects. These are exciting perspective techniques which add more expression to a drawing.





There is one artist that I want to point your attention to whose mastery of perspective I particularly admire. I am talking about Dutch graphic artist Maurits C. Escher. His work is simply mind-boggling! My favourite work is his extraordinary self-portrait (check it here), where he is drawing himself while looking in the mirror sphere which also reflects the interior. If you remove the ball, the room appears in 1-point perspective, but because the room is reflected in the spherical mirror surface of the ball, it causes amazing effects and distortions of the space.

Escher’s art is one of the brightest examples of mathematical laws of perspective coupled with the author’s imagination. Escher published a book, “Impossible Worlds”, where he plays with geometric laws, planes, creating inconceivable spaces. Scientists are well-versed in the beauty of mathematics and Escher shows all of us that beauty.

We adore chaos because we love to produce order.          
— Maurits Cornelis Escher

Once you grasp the rules of construction of geometry of a space, you can start experimenting with them. I call it ‘playing with perspective’. All sketching masters have excellent command of this knowledge. So let’s get going and discover it for ourselves!

1 point perspective interior sketch

1-Point Perspective 

In the 1-point perspective, we have a vanishing point, which is always on the horizon line. This vanishing point is where all the lines converge to (that’s why it is called 1-point perspective). When we draw an interior, we see three walls: one that is parallel to the picture plane (frontal wall) and two side walls.

Basically, 1-point perspective is linear perspective and it comes into play when your line of sight is parallel to the horizontal set of lines that converge upon a single point in the distance and perpendicular to the other set of lines in the view. It is the simplest type of perspective because we deal with only one vanishing point.

We are forever indebted for this knowledge to the Italian Renaissance. In the second half of the XVth century, Renaissance artists and mathematicians developed the linear perspective theory and brought precision and mathematics into mainstream art. Viva Italia!

Before that, artists drew ‘by eye’ or used Inverted Perspective (Bizantine Perspective), which is an art form unique to pre-renaissance religious art and is full of embedded meaning. As an example, look at Andrey Rublev’s “Trinity” and observe how the space appears flat and converges towards the viewer.

Thanks to Renaissance and its masters, who were not only prolific artists, sculptors, architects, but also prodigious mathematicians, the laws of perspective were discovered. Brunelleschi, Alberti, Masaccio, Ghiberti, Piero della Francesca introduced the use of perspective, and, in doing so, forever changed further development of art.

Renaissance masters were so fluent in the complexities of geometric construction that they were able to apply their knowledge of perspective to perform most complicated tasks and solve quite challenging problems. For example, painting of a ceiling of a dome has to take into account a variety of factors: first, people look at frescos from below, which significantly alters their perception. They also had to take into account the curved shape of the dome and correct for distortions that arise. Apart from that, there is a host of technical aspects such as erection of scaffolding, working at a high altitude, temperature, humidity (in the case of frescos, the humidity is very high, as painting is performed over damp plaster), technique of mixing colours, a problem of lighting, and even the position of a painter’s body (for instance, Michelangelo almost completely lost his sight, while painting the Sistine Chapel).

My drawing for the book  “The SKETCH“

My drawing for the book “The SKETCH“


When should we use 1-point perspective?

1-point perspective is an ideal choice for depicting public spaces: bars, cafes, restaurants, hotel lobbies, as well as spacious residential interiors: sitting rooms, dining rooms, halls, and lounges, etc. This view lets you represent your idea on a drawing by showing the maximum amount of space. Suppose, we have a restaurant layout, rectangular in shape: it would be sufficient to draw two 1-point perspective views – in one direction as you enter and one in the reverse. If we were to use a 2-point perspective view to demonstrate the design idea, we would have to draw all four corners of the space, plus a general view, a view from above, or even make a model (at least 5 sketches in total). In contrast, the 1-point perspective view allows you to show the idea with only two drawings.

We can change the position of the vanishing point in relation to the centre of the picture plane placing it anywhere on the horizon line. It can be right in the centre, or it can be shifted to the right or to the left. This will make the picture asymmetric. This adds dynamism to the composition and allows you to reveal one of the walls to a greater extent. However, when the vanishing point is right in the centre, both walls are shown to the same degree, and, thus, appear balanced. In fact, it is this placement of the vanishing point that is often used in classical drawings of interiors. Classics loves symmetry.

1 point perspective interior

2-Point Perspective 

Another type of perspective important for designers is the perspective with two vanishing points. It is often called an «Oblique View». In this view, horizon contains two vanishing points, and the picture reveals two walls of a space. You can move these points on the horizon line, but it is important that the distance between them should remain the same fixed value (usually this distance equals to the diagonal of the picture plane). When you have understood all the most important basic laws of perspective, you will be able to experiment with them, creating drawings with the most effective angles.

2-point perspective is a linear perspective in which there are two vanishing points on the horizon line. This type of perspective appears when your line of sight is at an angle to the horizontal sets of lines that converge upon points in the distance.

This type is usually more dynamic compare to 1-point, because we are able to see the volumes of objects.

My drawing for the book  “The SKETCH“

My drawing for the book “The SKETCH“


In which case 2-point perspective is the best choice?

It is indispensable when we want to show a space containing one main object, a dominant feature. In the bedroom, it is a bed. In the study, it is a desk. In the nursery, it is a cot. And so on…

This perspective is ideal for small spaces, or when we want to draw in detail a specific corner of an interior. It is important that we draw this object in great detail. Also it is the oblique view that allows us to show furnishings and other separate objects. I often use it to specify upholstery. A picture is worth a thousand words and it is way easier to send an image along with an order for a piece of furniture depicting exactly what I had in mind.

My drawing for the book  “The SKETCH“

My drawing for the book “The SKETCH“


Read more about perspective drawing in my book “The SKETCH“ (Amazon paper-based version or PDF).

Well, my creative friend, I hope you enjoyed this article, please let me know your thoughts on it in the comments below.

P.S. Please help me grow my blog by sharing this article on social media. Thanks in advance!


© Olga Sorokina, 2018


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What is sketching and the 5 most popular types of it

what is sketching in drawing
interior design drawing.jpeg

In this blog post I will explain what sketching is and what are its five most popular types.

P.S. I took this text from my book “The SKETCH“.

You can listen this article in audio format

(12 min)

What is sketching?

Basically, it is about making a quick drawing, a study, which helps you to represent a design idea. And it has a plethora of applications:

Travel sketching (or sometimes city or urban sketching): expressive, energetic and usually extremely fast drawings of architectural details, city views, restaurants, etc.

It can be made both in open air (“pleinair” in French) and working from your memory – recollections of your trip when you are back at home, or using photos and creating compositions out of them. It includes “cafe sketching” as well.

Fashion sketching: people, fashion-looks and accessories. It is used mainly for illustrations or magazines, e.g. for brand promotion. It helps designers during the first stages of creation of their collections and helps to introduce changes.

Industrial Design sketching: probably the most known and popular branch of sketching. Obviously, it was created by industrial designers; a good example is car sketching. In this case, all sketches are made with great speed and confidence.

The type of sketching I teach my students via online courses, Instagram Lives, and YouTube tutorials is a little different, it’s an interior design sketching, and we usually start by creating a precise measured perspective with help of scale rulers. This is followed by freehand rendering which may take 1-2 hours, and for this stage we will be using markers. Once you have mastered the construction technique, you will develop the ability to produce quick freehand sketches of interiors.

perspective drawing
interior sketch restaurant

Sketching is an amazing skill which lets you transfer your design idea onto paper in the most fun, fast and effective way. In other words, sketching is a unique instrument for visualizing your concepts. Nowadays, it is associated mostly with such media as specialized professional markers, for example, Copic, Stylefile, Chartpak, Promarkers, ZIG, etc. Actually sketching “palette” is very wide and versatile: you can start from scratch by using a pencil, charcoal or black liner and end up by using different types of colouring techniques, for instance, watercolour, coloured ink and pastel or watercolour pencils. It is possible to mix different media, for example, markers + pastel or watercolour + coloured pencils. There are so many creative opportunities for you to test and explore! It is a good idea to try several and pick a couple of “favourites”.

drawing perspective online course

A range of this kind of media in the art-shops can impress and confuse at the same time. But don’t worry, my friends, in this article on my blog I recommend you a nice and compact set of marker colours, which I personally use most of the time. But why I do recommend markers? This is my answer: in my opinion, markers are the most easy-to-learn-how-to-use and easy to implement technique for beginners (especially in comparison to watercolour) and, at the same time, sketches which are done with markers usually look more vibrant. As a matter of fact, in my personal interior design practice, I used to use watercolour and coloured pencils for my drawings, whereas now I opted for markers only because I simply see how much better they perform on paper for interior design purposes.

markers for sketching



The reason why sketching became so popular today among designers of all kinds not only in Russia, Europe, USA, Asia and the rest of the world is that artists nowadays tend to be overwhelmed by computer programs such as CAD, Revit, Sketchup, 3D Max, and Maya. In the old days, artists were earning their bread by, literally, their hands and now they are desperately wishing to go back in time when ideas were transferred through hand drawing, which is far more natural and organic way of doing it.

Just take a look at what is happening right now in our creative lives: we rarely, if ever, write with a pen, and mostly type on a computer, iPad or iPhone. We do not send handwritten letters and cards anymore – epistolary genre is almost gone for good – and even our thoughts and ideas we capture in “Notes” on our iPhones. It seems that we have forgotten the meaning of “handmade”, handcrafted, which is precious because in creating it you include a piece of your heart, love, and memories. Do you remember what we were told as children: “The best present is the one that is made by hands”. There is a profound meaning in that. Just observe that we no longer “create” on paper but “work” on a computer, in Photoshop, Word or AutoCAD. The words we use, especially verbs, bear deep meaning. With that in mind, ask yourself, is it better to render or to hand-render; to work or to create? They say that 3D Max was invented by those who can not draw. Clearly, there is a number of advantages in using 3D and computer-generated imagery, but let us not lose the command of our hands and the link between the brain and the heart that hand drawing fosters.


Types of sketching 

As I mentioned before there are different types of sketching and here I would like to talk about each one in a little bit more depths. Let’s take a quick look at the main features of the most popular of them by splitting them into key concepts and keywords.

Interior sketching

For this kind of sketching it is highly important to understand the laws of perspective and train your eye to judge scale and proportion. It is always good to be able to execute your drawings within different time frames because sometimes you will need to draw your idea quickly in front of your customer. As an interior designer, you should have an eye for beauty, a feeling for harmonious colours and a perfect palette. And, as in other types of sketching, you should be able to render a variety of materials such as fabric, wood, stone, and glass. Check my video courses on interior design drawing.

Interior drawing from my ecourse PRO. Check other sketches   here  .

Interior drawing from my ecourse PRO. Check other sketches here.

Fashion sketching

For this type of sketching it is important to have a good understanding of human proportions (face and body). You should know how to stylize figures in your drawings. More often than not, body proportions are elongated in fashion sketching. For example, the total height of human body in fashion sketching is 10, 11 or even 12 times the height of a human head as opposed to real-life proportions of only 7.5 to 8 heights of a human head. The most important aspect of fashion sketching is to be able to capture a design idea in the best possible light. Hence a facial-portrayal of a human figure is usually not important. In this case, it is critical to be able to deliver the idea of the designed collection to the best advantage. In fashion sketching, it is important to bring the clothing design into focus, and a life-like portrayal of the figure is usually unimportant. You will also need to know how to convey through hand-render the look and feel of such materials and textures as skin, hair, different types of fabric, metal, etc.

fashion sketch.png

Industrial sketching

You will need the ability to draw objects in 3D, clearly showing their structural design and volume. In order to be able to render a professionally looking arrangement of component part on a page you will need firm grasp of the principles of composition. You will also need to perfect your technique and speed in order to develop assured line and confident hand. Most common materials that need rendering in industrial sketching are metal, plastic, and glass.

sketching what is it

Travel sketching

In this type of sketching, the most important skill is to manage to convey the feel, the ambience of a place, to capture the flitting moment and, at the same time, to deliver correct scale and proportions of the object. More often than not, you will also need to be able to perform at high speed, as you will be sketching while travelling, while on the road, when you do not have several hours at your disposal the way it would have been the case with plain-air sketching. In this type of sketching it is important to grasp the intrinsic traits of the place you are observing and afterwards graphically stylize it in your drawing.

Check the process of creation of this sketch on my YouTube   here  .

Check the process of creation of this sketch on my YouTube here.

P.S. I hope you enjoyed the content! Let me know what you think in the comments below. Please share this article with your friends on social media. Thanks in advance!


© Olga Sorokina, 2018


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