Artist & Creative Producer

How to organize graphics library for rapid production of generic video commercials

I have a terrible memory and get furious when I can’t recall where everything is. That’s why I am trying to develop storage guidelines which help me access the needed pieces of information and keep my mind out of the gutter.

I used to store all graphics decentralized, meaning that project graphics is stored it the project folder. It’s convenient of projects are very different from each other, as in the case for outsource work. As I am currently working for a product company and create product ads, I need at least the product graphics for every new commercial.

Library is a structured storage for all graphic elements where you can access needed graphics as quickly as possible.

How to organize library

Graphics in *.psd, *.ai and other source files consists of elements (layers, folders, smart-objects). After export, they become *.png, *.svg, etc. We store them somewhere to later import in an AfterEffects project and also organize them in folders and pre-composes.

If the structure of layers and folders in *.psd will be the same as in the AfterEffects project, and in every new project this structure will repeat, we can save much time. In such a case we don’t need to recall where the file is stored, how to import everything in the project and where to find the source file if we need to edit something.

Some recommendations:


Save as few nested folders as possible so that you don’t need to roam around them every time. You’ll have many folders in root directory, but this way you’ll make sure that the needed graphics aren’t hidden in the bowels of your folder system.

One folder should contain one object in all versions, skins and versions. Logotype, background, nameplate are objects.

There should be an editable source file in the folder along with the exportlable elements (for instance, logotype letters, graphic elements).

In the source file

*.psd source file should be structured in accordance with the general library guidelines. This will help speed up export of elements, as we won’t need to waste time on naming. It means that it’s better to name the *.psd-file itself as a library object with unique name and save it in the folder with the same name. It is necessary for “quick export *.png”. This is a Photoshop script which by default exports elements into the folder where the source file is stored and names them in the same way as in the source file.

A rule of thumb says that one folder should contain one source file (object) and many elements. Each element in the source file has to be separated by a layer,  folder or smart object.

Here we name files by the “bottom-up” approach. First comes unique “element name_object name_project name”.

In the project

Project consists of two main sections:

OUTPUT – pre composes for output. Here you can find out more about my source file naming convention.

IMGs – copy of our library, where the structure must be identical to that on PC. It doesn’t mean that the you should import the whole library into the project, just the necessary elements.

Centralized graphic library eliminates the need to think where to save new graphic elements and where to look for the old graphics. If you work on a product, you’ll get more benefits from library than from decentralized storage system.