For almost any project, I would guess maybe 10–15% of the total time spent, was looking for or making assets. Music, sound effects, textures, icons, patterns, stock images, mockups, templates, scripts; all these little tools that are not necessarily the final product, but give the final piece that little something beyond what you set up, in as few steps as possible. We know the internet will provide just about anything if you're willing to look long enough, but it takes as much as it gives, so after the first 20 minutes, I'm ready to stop searching. I used to just go get what I needed online for each project as I went. I figured it wasn't that long to find a basic texture or social media logo and keep it in that project folder. I've only recently begun keeping a folder of assets on my local hard drive. Lesson learned: I should have started sooner. Here's a quick outline of what I've found to be some best practices.
How to use it
I want to explain my folder and project structure later, so this is just a breakdown of my assets folder. I keep it in my work folder and then organized by file category.
My main goal is to keep the categories open ended enough for any kind of asset I come across to already have a place to go, but obvious enough that I don't have to think about where anything is when I'm looking. Proprietary file types like adobe files get their own folder, but media types that can be held in different file containers get a general folder (sounds, images, etc).
And I find it useful to keep social media and other company logos in one place, and I can update them when new versions are released. This is also a good place to store any scripts or brushes or anything I make myself that I would use more than once. Now, when I'm in the middle of a project and I decide something needs a little texture, or sound effect or any other common touch up; I go to the folder I'm looking for, copy the asset from the Assets folder to the project folder and I'm right back where I was. I always try to copy assets out of the main assets folder and into the project folder I'm working on so that if I need to hand the project off to anyone, they have everything they need. I've found that this way, I come across some things that I forogt about, and I didn't have to go find them; they were there waiting for me.
Right now, my whole folder is about 6.5 GB. I suspect eventually I will need to a have a separate drive just for assets or asset types. But this works for now. My goal is not to retain every kind of asset that could be used on any other project, just general purpose things that are frequently used. You might be thinking I'd spend as much time searching for much media as I would online, but the idea is that I am the one populating it, so I don't have to think too hard about what I have available and where it is. As an example, the header image for this post I made in under 5 minutes with some stock icons I had on hand.
If this is of interest, I'll link to a few things as a jumping off point to get an assets folder started. A lot of these sites have weekly or monthly freebie giveaways or really good deals on bundle packs that are well worth the money. Remember, I'm just keeping the best stuff, so take your time curating high-quality, reusable assets.
- Creative Market – Really nice textures and illustrative things, but a lot of general purpose creative tools.
- Sidecar – I haven't used this one much yet, but they have a lot of really high quality mockups.
- Behance – As with any free things online, your mileage may vary, but I've found a few really nice textures and mockups on here, usually free.
- Facebook logos
- Instagram logos
- Squarespace logos
- Twitter logos
Hope that is helpful! Spend more time making and less time looking!