In today’s job market, creating a compelling online design portfolio is essential. And while many designers have great work, putting that work into a relatable context can often make for a more memorable impact and a more polished presentation. Here are 5 ways you can incorporate stock images in your portfolio to make it really stand out.

1. Be Responsive

Open laptop with digital tablet and white smartphone by ouh_desire
Open laptop with digital tablet and white smartphone by ouh_desire

computer_website

A great webpage design looks even better displayed on actual devices. Showcase those breakpoints you agonized over by showcasing your site designs on images of laptops, tablets, and phones.

2. Give It Texture

Give your design portfoilo texture
Blank stationery set on wood background by belkos

magazine_cover

By adding an environmental texture to your work, you can flatteringly contrast your color scheme and ground your presentation.

3. Get Real

Open square-format brochure on a wooden table by belkos
Open square-format brochure on a wooden table by belkos

spread_layout

Even if your design work wasn’t commercially printed, you can showcase it in its intended environment using stock assets, like a blank magazine or subway ad.

Horizontal metal billboard on bright metro station by Kostsov
Horizontal metal billboard on bright metro station by Kostsov

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4. Get Personal

Part of being memorable is showing personality. Revealing some of your personal interests — via a massive vinyl collection featuring a record you designed, for example — can help you stand out from the sea of other portfolios.

Old LPs on the shelf by sunfun
Old LPs on the shelf by sunfun

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5. Wear It on Your Sleeve

Have a cool t-shirt design, but don’t have a screen-printing press? Stock images can help bring that creativity to life.

T-shirt template by dima shiper
T-shirt template by dima shiper

TshirtDesign

All of these illustrations show how to make a great design portfolio by adding context to your design work and stand out online. For more inspiration, check out our lightbox of images handpicked to help bring your designs to life.

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– Illustrations composited by Jordan Black using Shutterstock assets

Top image: Template for branding identity by Vitalliy

Still revamping your portfolio? Even more tips here.