Minor folder setting and file naming tips for digital artists.

I assume most of you will be doing these tips already, but for those who don't these couple tips can save you a ton of time and heartbreak.

First problem.. Can't find your .PSD and .JPG in windows 8?  That feeling of dread that you 'know' you put it there, but now it's gone.  Well check that you didn't optimize your folder for Pictures.  Digital artists use all sorts of files but we imagine they all are for one goal, a cool picture.  In the windows world that does not include 3-D files, or even variants of the same type of image but in different formats.

Set your Folder settings by right clicking to Properties>Customize>General Items .  This will allow you to sort by date modified so you can see if you actually saved out that .jpg to send of your matte painting that happens to also be a huge .psd.

In windows 7 you should arrange by 'Date Modified'.  in windows 8 your should Group by 'Date modified' (Descending).  This will allow you to see your latest work, and with the right folder settings it will allow you to see all the files of your latest work by order in which you worked on it last, regardless of the name.

View..  I view by 'large icons' so I can see the files, this is especially good for ref folders, or photo folders where I am looking to pull items into Photoshop.  For my client folders I often work in 'details' view.  This helps me have a big picture look at all my files, sizes and when I saved them and keeping them organized.  If I am searching for an older image in my client folder I will go to large icon again, but if I am sending updates or uploading to box it will be in detail view.

Folder naming.. Name your folder by client or by code name of client.  Then for each project you do for the client start a specific folder.  I say 'code name' because you may consider using codes on sensitive client work. If you are prone to sharing screen on skype or streaming, it would suck to inadvertently put your client list or project list out there by accident when you go to save your file!  ..loose lips sink freelancers.

File naming..   First, spell it correctly.. there is no spell check on file names, and if your a poor speller like myself, you can easily show your hand.  Bad spelling can make the best artist seem like a dope.  Second, plan for a name on your file that will be able to carry all the revisions down the road without looking ill prepared.  Example, do not name your file 'first try.jpg' or 'green version of ship.jpg'  also avoid prematurely using the word 'final'...  you can't imagine how many versions of final are out there, and when you do say final, you are sending a message that either a) you are out of time, or b) you can't do any better.  Instead, use version numbers _01, _02, _03 etc.. And when you hit on a version that needs minor tweaks, add versions to that, _03a, _03b, _03c.  Keep in mind you always want to have your files sort correctly numerically.  There is a big difference in _v01 and _v1 or _v001.  You will also know I use an underscore.  This is a legacy habit because some file systems could not use 'spaces' but we wanted to make sure the version was seperate from the name, this is why, zoo01.jpg vs. zoo_01.jpg.  Same meanings, but zoo01.jpg is a pain to read quickly.  Also, do use the word 'test' or 'junk' on anything that will not hold value after the project is done.  At the end of your project, search for everything marked junk, and delete it to save hard drive space.  Tests can prove to be more valuable, but down the road they may lose that, so the option to delete them could be nice.

You would be surprised how much can be deciphered from someones file structure.  Especially if they are looking for a job.  It is a snapshot of how an artist treats the workflow on their own time.  A well organized concept artist with solid naming conventions will stand out against one that has treated their own work recklessly.