Design for Brands by Matt Plays

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Generate Assets in Photoshop, at Scale

Our team recently launched a big update to Burton.com. We redesigned the homepage to handle the volume of photos Burton would use to market its new line of product. Once it came time to create files for production, we sought help from Photoshop CC. The latest updates include linking placed files, artboards, and a setting to generate assets automatically. These additions, and a few tweaks to our workflow, made for a more efficient process.  

 
 
 
 
 
 

Generate Assets

My first day working was spent creating a template document with artboards sized for each asset. With Photoshop's Generate Assets feature (File > Generate > Image Assets), artboards, groups, and layers can be named with extensions so that assets will be exported in the background, on the fly.

 
 
 
 Various artboards for one "set" of assets. 

Various artboards for one "set" of assets. 

 
 
 

Layer names can even be written to generate two different versions of an asset simply by specifying both filenames separated by a comma.

For example: W16_mens_gloves_200x100.jpg, 50% W16_mens_gloves_100x50.jpg

Be sure to consult Adobe documentation to learn the syntax or use their Generator Layer Names extension for a more graphical approach.

 
 
 

GUI of Adobe's Generator Layer Names extension.

 
 
 

Place Linked

Placing linked files is another huge improvement to our workflow. Files can be linked via the file menu (File > Place Linked) or by holding the option key while dragging a file into the document from either Bridge or Finder. Unlike Illustrator or InDesign, Photoshop will save a fail safe JPG version of any linked file. Broken links are less devastating, but it also means your file size will be a bit larger.

 

Renamy

After taking the time to create a properly named document with all necessary artboards, creating assets is as easy as placing files, re-cropping, and changing type. Each of my PSDs corresponded to a certain category. Jackets would have its own PSD and Gloves would have another. I used the same template for each set/category, but needed a way to keep my filenames in order. To avoid overwritten files, it's crucial to properly name files in the layers panel of Photoshop. This is where Renamy comes in. Renamy is an extension with a simple find and replace function that allows us to change a whole set of layer names (and therefore filenames) in a few clicks.

 
 
 

Renamy's Find & Replace function.

 
 
 

Package

Once all is said and done, it's a great file management technique to package your document. This will wrangle all your placed files into one tidy, self-contained location. Simply navigate to the file menu and specify a location in finder (File > Package).

 

Final Thoughts, Tips & Known Quirks

Generate Assets is a new way of thinking about your documents and file management. For me, creating a system that's more efficient and logical is a huge win, but it'll surely pose a few hiccups along the way. Please let me know if you run into trouble or have any questions. Happy to help.

  • When renaming layer names with Renamy, the plugin will turn on the visibility of all selected layers.
  • Photoshop doesn't currently double (@2x) linked objects well - it's best to design at 200% and create the half-res' version rather than vice versa. 
  • If duplicate layer names exist (or if any rogue periods exist) Generator will create an errors.txt that should provide some guidance.
  • Generate Assets does support SVG output, but only from Photoshop shape layers. No Smart Object support as of yet.
  • Right click > Replace Contents can be a huge time saver as it'll update every instance of a given linked file (in that particular document).