How I Label My Journal Scans

December 11, 2014

141106_DentalOfficeLeft: Woman waiting at the Dentist's. 7.75 x 9.75 inch page in a Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Soft-cover Journal. Faber-Castell Pitt Calligraphy Pen and Daniel Smith Watercolors. This image has nothing to do with today's topic, but I wanted to share it with you. She had on really cool earrings and really had a red splotch in her hair.

In yesterday's post I mentioned that I label my scans of my journal pages so that they line up in chronological order in my journal pages folder.

As soon as I typed that I realized that someone would ask me to explain that, so when I finished writing the post I actually went into the post and added a note—a sidebar so to speak. It got so long and detracted from the point I was trying to make that I cut it all out. Instead I made it into this post.

So how exactly do I label my scans?

I note the date as year/month/date, then follow that with an A, B, C, for the first, second, or third image of that day, followed by a brief "description" which is typically only one word. 

The labels would then look like this:


141203_B_DogParkBlack.tif or 141203_B_BlackDog.tif

141203_C_Cafe_Latte.tif (because of course you go there after the dog park!) (Sometimes I put spaces between the words with underscores, sometimes I don't.)

In this way all the pages from December 3, 2014 get scanned and fall in chronological order. Other numbering systems which don't have the YY/MM/DD orientation get confused and out of order, or you have to put them in monthly folders etc. At least other systems I've tried.

This is simple. The A, B, C, approach keeps things in time-order if I'm busy sketching. I like to see my warm ups and work in the order in which they were completed. This way word labels can be repeated without conflict or overwriting other files, or made new each time, and the alphabetization of the first letter in the word label won't influence list order because each scan gets an A, B, C, D… designation which alphabetizes first and maintains chronological order.

Additionally when all my draft drawings and finals are in order like this I can easily prepare all the images as a unit for handouts for my classes.

Sometimes to help me search for images with particular characteristics I will include a type of paper or medium in a label. That way if I'm looking for images on certain types of paper I can quickly search for that word or if I'm looking for images sketched with Neocolor for instance I can search for that. Of course if I'm looking for images on a certain type of paper the easiest thing to do is walk to the bookshelf and pull down a journal made with that paper. I have a pretty good memory of where my favorite sketches are in time (and within which journals) in part because I change journal size and paper type so frequently. And if I'm still stumped I can always call up the index on the computer (or take down the paper index file) and search it by keyword. But that's about retrieval and not about archiving order.

I started organizing things this way in 2000 because a photographer friend was helping me with my website and some other projects. As we sat at the computerI was complaining about how I couldn't remember the names of the page tiffs—there were so many monthly folders to go through. He explained his year, month, day system. I adapted it with the alphabet letters.

Sometimes on a very confused day or a day when I sketch more than 26 entries (it has happened) I might use a time stamp instead of the letter designation.

Those labels would then look like this: 




That's using a 24-hour clock so the numbers from morning and evening don't get jumbled out of order.

If you use a 12-hour clock you could put A for a.m. and P for p.m. in your label and the morning sketches would group together and the evening sketches would group together. 

Those labels would then look like this: 




You have to always remember which clock approach you're using and allow 4 spaces for each time. I always manage to do something inconsistent with the time stamping when I'm typing the labels so it gets messed up. For instance if I stay up until 12:30 A.M. and label that sketch as "ITEM_A_1230_StillLife" it is going to fall after the 10:15 a.m. sketch I did at the dog park when the computer lines it all up. The scan will still be in the morning batch, but out of order within that batch. I think sticking with A, B, C, D is safest for me. 

Under my YY/MM/DD_A, B, C… system midnight and beyond becomes A, B, C, or the first drawings of the new day.

I've used this system with everything on the computer so for instance blog files are labeled with date and title and all fall in order within my blog folder. Design work files before 2000 were labeled by project name and 1, 2, 3 for which version. In 2000 I extended this "YY/MM/DD_A, B, C…" system to include design and editing project files. The project folders fall in chronological order but still have their project name, and within the project folder things fall chronologically. It just makes everything easier for me. I really am a fan of chronological organization.

Find a way that works for you—works for the way you need to store files in groups and retrieve them.

(Yep a 900+ word aside would have been a bit much wouldn't it?)

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