Organizing your work

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Having files spread all over your computer. Doing collaboration projects without a unified project folder. No or inconsistent file versioning. Sending files for review to your art director without any consistent naming. Why worry about all this, when at first the project still seems small. But once the project gets bigger, more people are added, and you need to start communicating what is where and why. Then oops! Now you need to re-organize everything. So why not do it from the start? Let’s dive into how to you can do this

First of all, understand that this is not only for you, but also for others you work with. You should train yourself to keep things neat, clean and consistent. Why Consistent? So when other people are involved, they can learn how things are done without having to find, guess and ask things.

The project folder

Let’s start here, with the core of the project, the project folder. It is the home of everything you and the team does. It should be easy to understand where to find what. Let me share our’s

High Priority - Game Art - Organizing Work - ProjectFolder

1_FromClient

Everything we receive from the client will go in here. In a sub-folder showing the time when it was received and what it is. Using the timestamp in the beginning of the folder name. Starting with the year, followed by the month and day. This means windows organizes them in chronological order. As you can see, it makes it easy to find things. Imaging you have 30 of these “moments” where you received something from the client, if you don’t organize that. Good luck spending the time to find something specific.

High Priority - Game Art - Organizing Work - FromClient

2_RefConceptLookDev

Everything regarding reference images, concept work and anything else related to look-development. In other words, pre-production. Inside it we often have sub-folders for ‘References’, where the team can simply dump images in. ‘ArtBoards’ for things like moodboard or collages. ‘Concept Work’ for which is the domain of the concept artists, often organized per object, character or scene.

High Priority - Game Art - Organizing Work - RefConceptLookDev

5_SourceFiles

As the name suggests, this is for all the source or authoring files made during production. It is the bulk of the project. As posted earlier in the Naming Conventions post. It is divided into Characters, Environments, Effects, Vehicles, Weapons. Though this will change per project, since every project has different needs.

Also something to note is file formats. When it comes to 3D, everybody uses different 3D software. 3Ds Max, Maya, Blender, Modo, Houdini, etc. For static meshes you can easily overcome this by exporting to FBX. But for complex models which have tool specific features, like rigging or constraints. You are forced to stay within that tools environment. For us we have made the choice to always upload the software specific file and an export (fbx) file. This way there is access to both.

High Priority - Game Art - Organizing Work - SourceFiles

6_UnityUnreal

Here will go the game engine or platform you are exporting too. You will want to make a choice if you want this here, inside the project folder, or a completely different location. Sometimes we have an artist only Unity/Unreal project here, so the artists can play around and test their artwork. Without interfering with programmers, and without fear of breaking things.

High Priority - Game Art - Organizing Work - UnityUnreal

8_Shared

This is the most messy of them all. Since it’s a simple “dump” folder when you need to quickly share something with another team member. This one is all about speed. Sometimes we give each member his own folder name for him to place things in. But that’s about it, quick and dirty. This is only for internal sharing.

9_DeliveriesToClient

Very similar to the ‘1_FromClient’. But now for what you send to them. Also organized with dates, clean and professional. The client has direct access to this. This often has huge lists of sub-folders, easily 40+ deliveries and things you send to the client.  So keep it clean from the start. It also functions as a track record of what has been sent.

High Priority - Game Art - Organizing Work - ToClient

Documents and decks

For this we use Google Drive. With a somewhat similar setup.

1. Legal

Contracts and NDA’s go here. Keep them safe for you never know when you need them in the future.

2. Finance

Especially with bigger projects, you need to keep track of the budget. Build a good budget sheet that you can reuse for each project. Which shows the incoming budget, the expenses, tax related calculation and possibly predictions.

3. From Client

The same as in the project folder. All Google Drive files we get from the client.

4. Decks

These are Google Slides or PowerPoint files. Which contain small presentations of information you want to share with your client or team. They are built to be both visually pleasing and contain detailed information. For me it’s important to give the best to the people we work with. So I spend the extra time to make these extra awesome.

7. Outsourcing Briefs

Google Doc files that contain briefs for the team on what to do, project description and kick-off information. One of my core beliefs is that I want the people I work with to have a good and smooth time working with me. So I spend a lot of time getting these briefs right. Each one is exported to PDF for our records.

8. Production Documents

Sometimes a specific workflow, technical detail or pipeline needs to be documented or explained. That will go in here.

9. To Client

Everything we share to the client. We never share anything directly from the other folders. To make sure we don’t make mistakes. We only share from within this folder. That way it also functions as a track record.

High Priority - Game Art - Organizing Work - GoogleDrive

I hope this all will help you improve your professional side of doing art. Don’t underestimate how important this is for larger projects. As always, if you ever have any questions or need help. Simply reach out to me.

High Priority - Game Art