If you need help with your portfolio, email me (terrystories <at> gmail.com) and I may be able to put you in touch with a tutor
My name is Terry and I’m an animation student at Sheridan College.
Below is my accepted animation portfolio from 2018. I received perfect on everything except the storyboard portion.
In this post I’m going to explain exactly what Sheridan is looking for in your portfolio and how to get in.
Best of luck!
My Best Advice
If you’re worried about your skill level, so was I.
Before I started working on my portfolio, I never had any formal training. I hadn’t drawn anything seriously except for doodling in my notebooks.
My only advantages were that I spent a year watercoloring an Instagram comic about a gay egg and a secret agent chip mouse, and I had dabbled in stop motion animation in highschool (you’ll see some in my portfolio below).
When I handed in my portfolio, I was very nervous, but I ended up getting 95% – and if I could go from zero to 95% in just a few months, so can you.
I also recorded a podcast with a fellow student on how to get into Sheridan’s Animation Program, what it’s like in first year, and how to do really really well. If you’re interested in going to Sheridan, you should 100% give it a listen:
Or, if you’re an International Student, give this podcast episode a listen. Whitman Theofrastous, Second Year International Student of Sheridan’s Animation Program explains the entire process to applying and getting in. He also answers questions like:
- How much will it cost
- How many hours a week you can work at a job (or your co-op)
- How to find a place to live or apply for residence
- Plus many other common questions
Here’s How I Did It
First off, the biggest thing that helped me was knowing the general requirements ahead of time and studying other portfolios that got accepted.
If you search “accepted Sheridan animation portfolio” in Google, you’ll come across a whole bunch of images and videos from other students.
Once I got an idea of what I needed to learn, I began to self study and then hired a tutor at the endend speed up the process.
You don’t have to hire a tutor though, I’ve spoken with dozens of other Sheridan students and everyone had a different path:
- Some went to art school
- Some attended summer animation workshops that specialize in Sheridan portfolios
- Some came from Sheridan’s Art Fundamentals program
- Some came from other countries
- Some came from other degree programs
- Some just studied completely on their own
If you’re eager to learn and willing to stick your head down and work hard, I don’t think you’ll have any problem getting in. It’s just a matter of learning the right techniques and applying them with your own creativity.
The requirements generally stay the same every year, but the specifics change (example: they change the action of the hand drawings each year).
The portfolio requirements are sent out in October (or as soon as you apply) and there’s an open house in November where you can line up to get your portfolio reviewed by a prof. When I went, I tried to have the first draft of all my portfolio pieces done (even though some were really rough) so I could get pointers on what to focus on. This was extremely helpful. The prof’s biggest feedback for me was to add my own personality to my pieces. She told me to imagine someone else handing in a portfolio that looked the exact same as mine. How would mine stand out?
This is great advice, since the Sheridan profs look over 1,000 applications. They can only spend a few seconds looking at each piece on their first run-through, so make sure yours stands out immediately.
After I edited my pieces with the prof’s feedback, I kept redoing each piece until I was completely satisfied with it. It felt a bit counter-intuitive to redo something from scratch every time instead of just fixing parts, but I’m glad I worked this way. It taught me to how to draw efficiently, plus each piece improved overall every time I redid it.
Perhaps the biggest challenge with the portfolio is time management, but it’s completely doable. I was working full time (40+ hours a week) and watercoloring a daily webcomic every morning and evening. I found that a few hours a day was more than enough to work on my portfolio and get it in on time (it was stressful at times though!)
In the next sections, I’ll tell you what to focus on for each piece.
I found this part the toughest. So do most students. You’ve got to convey motion, stance, structure, etc. very quickly. The only way to get good at this is to do it a lot. Sheridan puts a lot of importance into life drawing. In fact, they offer nightly life drawing classes for students to keep practicing.
I found a studio in Toronto that offered life drawing (Toronto School of Art), so I went about a dozen times and practiced all the time at home from YouTube videos (just search for “life drawing” on YouTube). My tutor also helped a lot with pointers and areas to work on.
At the open house, the prof told me to make sure I included all parts of the body (including the private parts, which I was leaving them out for the sake of time) and to make sure I showed construction of the form (specifically the rib cage, the torso pinch, and the shoulder angle).
Sheridan is looking for four life drawings, two 1-3 minute poses, and two 5-10 minute poses. Make sure you label your drawings with the time you spent on them and don’t try to cheat by spending extra time to make them perfect. It’s very easy to tell if someone spent extra time on their drawings, because they should look like they were sketched quickly.
Here are my accepted life drawings:
I found this the easiest. There are many hand-drawing tutorials on YouTube that taught me the basics. From there I just kept redrawing until I was happy. I took multiple pictures of my own hand for reference and to practice from.
For my year, the assignment was to show a hand about to pick up an object and then a hand holding the object. I thought it would be interesting to show a hand squishing some dough, so I made biscuits from scratch and drew my hand holding the dough. Unfortunately it looks like I’m holding poo
After I found the idea for my character, I used two-point perspective to properly construct her from every view. Sheridan wants a front view, 3/4 front view, side view, and 3/4 back view.
From there, it’s just a matter of using a ruler to draw out all the basic shapes (squares/spheres) and then rounding them out and filling in the details. The 3/4 back perspective is the hardest and most closely scrutinized.
Here are some more tips:
- Parts of the character that are closer to the viewer should be thicker.
- The profs want to see consistency between drawings, so it helps to draw the front view first, then extend lines from the top and the bottom of the character onto another page so your character is the same size in the next rotation.
- Consider how weight plays a role in your character, it should look heavy.
- Do not pose your character, this is a mistake many students make. The point of this exercise to show what a character in a neutral position looks like so it can be handed to an animator for them to animate.
- The best character designs evoke story. To do this, think of two unconnected elements and combine them into a single character. Some simple examples are a bird that’s afraid to fly (what would she look like?), or a supermodel trash man, or an insect exterminator who keeps insects as pets.
- Don’t get carried away with accessories, the profs are interested in the structure, weight, and the proportions of your character.
- This is a great place to showcase your creativity. After looking at thousands of characters, they eventually all look the same, so my robot chicken grandma definitely stood out 🙂
Two drawings with simple two-point perspective are required here. Once I learned the basics of perspective, everything else fell into place. To practice, I found pictures of rooms and then tried to copy them using perspective. If you’re just starting out, one perspective dot should be placed off the frame on either the right side or left. The opposite perspective dot should be placed three times as far away on the other side. This will give you a nice looking perspective. From there, just use a ruler to line up all the shapes from where you place them in the frame.
The profs are also looking to see if you can draw things in proportion to one another and also want to see a good variety of shapes and objects on angles. For the room I learned a typical ceiling should be 9ft high and the door 7ft high. They also want to see you lay out a scene properly (rule of thirds, etc.) and get creative with what’s in the scene.
Originally I had stiff, Disney-looking characters in my room, but the prof said to redo them in my own style. Also, objects that are closer should have thicker lines.
For me, the assignment was to draw my bedroom and a park. I tried to incorporate a sense of story into the bedroom to make it more interesting. My idea was a teenage kid with some secret wizard powers 🙂
The requirements are to use four frames to create a story (beginning, middle, and end) and to use long shots, medium shots, and close ups.
I found it difficult to come up with an idea in four frames because I wanted it to be simple enough that anyone could understand what was happening at a glance, while avoiding the random twist ending I saw portrayed in most other portfolios (note: twists don’t often work well, because they end up being cliche and disappointing).
I didn’t get perfect marks here, so I’m not sure how they viewed mine (there’s no feedback on your portfolio). However, the biggest feedback I got from the open house was to use a variety of interesting shots and also that characters had to stay on the same side of the page using the rule of 180 (ex. If Character A starts on the left side, he should generally be on the left side in the rest of the panels or it breaks the flow).
Try to show action and expression as much as possible. There shouldn’t be any hidden or hard to see details in the frame that are crucial to telling the story.
Here are m. The characters were provided and the topic was “Hunger.” Everything else was left up to me.
The animation requirements were to animate a character doing a recognizable action within 24 to 48 frames.
I downloaded an app on the iPad called FlipaClip to create mine. The prof at the open house was surprised since most of the ones she saw were hand drawn (they also showed construction) and scanned. I asked her if I should redo mine to be hand drawn, and she said mine was more than she was expecting so it was fine. I tried hand drawing at first using a light board, but found the app way easier. I also animated the clown they gave from the storyboard to limit creating a new character and also so they could easily recognize it. I chose running because that’s one of the basic animation sequences to learn.
5 Personal Pieces
This is where you can submit anything – sculpture, painting, animation, etc.
I ran out of time creating anything new, so I used some of my animations from high school and panels from my Instagram comic. If you have any extra animation, prioritize that, because it’s an animation program 🙂
Follow My Progress
I hope this post has helped you!
You can follow my progress by checking out my instagram, or by following my animation podcast.
Please note: I am no longer reviewing portfolios. If you’re looking for feedback, remember Sheridan offers a portfolio review day with the animation professors.
Best of luck!
34 thoughts on “Accepted Sheridan Animation Portfolio [+ advice on how to get in]”
Those life drawings suck. I can’t believe you were accepted.
Life drawing is very difficult. Sheridan doesn’t expect you to be a master if you’re just starting out, but they are looking to see that you’re beginning to apply the basics of life drawing (pinch of the torso, rib cage, limbs as cylinders + attached proportionally, overall gesture, etc.).
I had never life drawn before I began to apply, but practiced every day for months. Even still it takes years of practice every day. Once you’re in the program, there is life drawing offered for 3 hours every single night to help you improve.
I don’t claim to have the best life drawings, but Sheridan saw potential in what I submitted and accepted me based on their evaluation.
How rude, what matters is the he got accepted to learn more, this kind of attitude about someone you don’t know at all is going to reward you, you just wait!
that’s really rude of you, first of all as an art student you should NEVER be saying other people’s work “suck”, Terry is amazing and our professors talked about how good his works are(i’m 1 year below terry). I hope you’re not in the program, because so far I don’t know anyone with such a rude, arrogant attitude.
OMG, thanks Lucy! that’s so nice of you to say. Also, congratulations on getting into the program, I hope you’re enjoying it and doing well 😀
Let’s see yours, champ.
Christ Todd, don’t be such a loser.
Green is an ugly color in you.
Green is an ugly color on you
Hi Terry! Your portfolio is amazing! I’m going into my last year of high school this year and looking to apply to this program. Do you have any tips or program suggestions on how to do the character rotation and keeping it consistent in shape and size? Loved your tips! I found it very helpful:)
Well thank you Abby, and good luck! Here’s one tip that really helped me. First, draw the 3/4 view of your character (because this is the hardest), then use a ruler to draw horizontal lines across the page from the top of the head, the neck, torso, knees, and other joint ends. Now you have a blank template to draw your other views to the same height proportions. You can also do this on Photoshop of Procreate, or whatever other app you use. Feel free to email me if you have other questions or want to show me your work 🙂
Hi! Your perspective drawings looked really creative, I think it really gave your portfolio personality. I’m applying for next year and I was wondering if I could show you some of my drawings for the portfolio and you could give me some pointers and advice, since I’m an international student and the required standards are higher. I would very thankful if you could help me out.
Thank you. And sure, feel free to send me an email (my email has in the side bar).
I really want to apply to this program, but I’m an international student, so I don’t know how to apply and send them the portfolio. Could you help me with that? Thank you so much
Hi Zoey, I can’t help you with your international application. I recommend contacting the school administration. Best of luck!
hi. i love all your works because theyare nothing but amazing but im panicking… because im an internatiional student, but live here and i have such little time but im so confused and worried and gahhhh!!!
also i am alresady being told by other people how its really competitive and hard to get in… and i shuld try another program and honestly im sad already so….. Help please.
Hi Chimdi, I would suggest getting in touch with the administration at Sheridan to get more info on how to apply as an international student. It is a competitive program, but you can do it 🙂
I wonder where can I get a storyboard template? I tried to look in Sheridan website and all I get is an awful template in the document.
You must use the template they provide you when you apply.
Hey Terry, I am one of those art tutors / mentors that you mention you don’t need (all in good fun 😉 ) and I’m just wondering what your perspective is on the “digital” vs “traditional” question. When I got into the program in 2007, we were told to make everything traditionally. I feel like the strict-ness of this has likely changed, especially since portfolio submissions are digital now (really aging myself here!). Now obviously yours are all traditional, but what is your perspective of this?
Hi Garth, while I don’t think everyone needs a tutor, I certainly did. As for the “digital” vs “traditional”, I don’t know for sure, but I would expect they are more open to more digital (except for the life drawing). I know I’ve seen people do digital character rotations, so there’s that.
I really want to apply, but I’m soo scared to get rejected. I’m really insecure about my art, but I will try to apply next year! I did read the portfolio requirements of 2020, and I was wondering how that works. Do they have different requirement every year? Does that mean if I wan to apply next year I need to wait until 2021?
Yes, they have slightly different requirements every year, though they are testing the same principles. So, you won’t be able to put together your final portfolio until you get the requirements in the year you apply. However, that shouldn’t stop you from practicing.
I totally get the fear. I was terrified. But, I learned so much from creating my portfolio – it really pushed me to improve my art. On top of that, you’ve really got nothing to lose. If you do get in, then it means you’ve mastered the basics and shown them your potential. If you don’t get in, so what? That doesn’t mean you can’t follow your dreams or become an amazing animator. It just means that Sheridan isn’t in your path that year. It also means that you’ve still got to work on your basics. Either way, you’ll learn more about yourself and what you’re made of if you try your best, regardless of the result. Don’t get hung up on Sheridan. Sheridan is just one path out of endless paths to pursuing what your dream. Best of luck!
I have a question. when do we start the portfolio and when do we hand it in? I am looking to try and join the animation course after I graduate from high school
I like your life drawings a lot. You are so good at showing everything using only a few lines. And your story encouraged me. I’ve only got a few month to work on my portfolio and then make the first attempt to Sheridan. Really hope I could be as good as you by that time.
You can definitely do it if you discipline yourself. There are also workshops like Animation Portfolio Workshop in Toronto that can help you over the summer.
PortPrep is another great place to get help! They have gotten a ton of students in, I think 6 others this year alone that I know of. They have a bunch of online courses, and one-on-one mentoring! https://www.portprep.com/
I am a business graduate and want to pursue my passion now. Because of a few restrictions, I can’t go for a bachelor’s degree. But I liked Sheridan’s Computer Animation Graduate Certificate program. I was looking for the portfolio requirements but couldn’t find any. Tried connecting with them but didn’t receive any helpful response. So, can you please guide me with the portfolio requirements of this course?
If not then can you please direct my message to any student of this program?
Ik I am asking for a lot but you are the only hope I’ve got 😅
Hey, sorry to hear you’ve been having trouble! I really don’t know about the grad certificate program requirements. You can start the application process here: https://www.sheridancollege.ca/programs/computer-animation/apply. It should give you the correct info. Best of luck!
Hey, I just wanted to say you’re a big inspiration to me and motivator to keep working on my portfolio to get into the animation program this year. I really enjoy your art!
Oh wow, thank you so much! Best of success to you 😀
Thank you so so much for this! Seriously I’ve gotten so much information when I barely knew where to start. The podcast is great to listen to while drawing as well. I hope I can get accepted this year 😀
Best of success!
Lovely blog you havve here