I prototype my designs in HTML as much as possible, but drawing in Photoshop is usually a precursor to digging into markup. I love looking through other designers’ photoshop files. Sometimes I’m overawed by the elaborate structures that people build with layer groups and precisely named layers. Sometimes I’m appalled that people can even function in photoshop: I’ve worked with amazing designers who don’t apparently name or group their photoshop layers at all.
I don’t know how people live like this.
I’m in the middle – I organize my photoshop files with a flat system of layer groups. I prefer broad, shallow organizational structures over narrow and deep ones: scrolling through a list is easier for me than digging through a big tree of nested layer groups. I make one layer set per “page” of the application or site I’m designing, and only add sub-groups to those layers if absolutely necessary. I try to name all my layers, but in the heat of the moment I’ll often wind up with a ton of “layer name copy 56″ that I need to rename at the end of a project.
My Photoshop files are all structured pretty much like this
A colleauge just sent me a file that has blown my mind a little – he follows a similar structure to me, but has added in visual cues for photoshop file workflow. He uses layer colors for this, a feature I’ve glanced at but never once used. It is simple and seems very effective: red layers for guides, yellow layers for in-progress, and green layers for “done”. This seems like a very nice way to work – you can scan through the file and quickly see what you should work on without resorting to external checklists.
It seems so obvious! Does everyone do this?
So I ask you, designers of the world: how do you organize your photoshop files? Is there some better method that I’m not aware of?