We’ve all been in scenarios where we’ve cut corners for the sake of time only to pay for it later. You don’t have to be interested in web design to know what it’s like to try to save a minute only to end up losing an hour. Taking the time to be organized in anything is ALWAYS worth it. An organized mind is required to make an organized product.
When using Photoshop, or any program for that matter, it’s important that a person keep their work space organized and intuitive. I’m aware that I just used the word organized in 3…make that now 4 sentences in a row, but it’s to really push the point
I’ve certainly had my share of creating an unorganized PSD with the only named layer being that of “background”. It’s sometimes easier just to add new layers without naming them when you’re looking to make a quick image. However, when working with complex images, you may be managing hundreds of layers and half the number of folders. I’m sure many of you reading this have seen PSD files with layers starting with “Layer 1” and ending in “Layer 100+”.
Every designer generally has their own naming convention along with folder logic. A designer should stick with what works for him/her, but be aware that the more organized your workspace, the better the product on the digital canvas. In addition to making your life infinitely easier and your work product more refined, keeping your PSD organized allows for smooth transitions should someone else ever work with the file. When source files are handed to clients, they should always contain names to all the layers and folders.
If you make it a point to name every new layer before you add it, you’ll be thankful that you did. I initially like to categorize my layers in folders titled “header, content, footer” when doing web layouts. Putting layers into groups is extremely helpful in managing your work. Say you want to see what the layout looks like showing only the header which in this case contains 50 layers. Rather than click on the hide icon for 50 layers, you can just hide the folder containing these files with a single click. Using a shortcut for this process helps out immensely in the saving of time. My current shortcut is F2 although the default setting is Control – G. My suggestion is to use whatever is most natural for you. Photoshop also provides you with the option color code your layers or groups to help you easily and quickly identify what you are looking for.
To some, it may sound like a stretch to say that how you order your layers palette has an effect on how you design. But consider a carpenter who when working leaves his tools and work materials all over the place in a sea of chaos. He’s going to be more prone to more mistakes and is far more likely to produce shoddy work no matter how good he is. He may miss the opportunities for creative solutions than an organized carpenter may have naturally seen. The same is true for Photoshop especially when it comes to layers and folders. Ultimately, the manner in which you organize your tools and work materials should aid in, not hinder your creativity. In some extreme cases, establishing an orderly workspace can change the whole experience of working in Photoshop from a strain to create under stress to a relaxation therapy session.