Illustration of design version control tool Helix Sync.
April 8, 2021

What's the Best Version Control For Designers?

Digital Asset Management

Version control is an essential tool for developers. But today, development includes more than just code. Using version control for artist and designers centralizes collaboration and secures valuable digital assets.

In this blog, we break down why version control is so important for designers. And we answer — what's the best version control for designers and artists?

Why Designers Need Version Control

How often do design teams end up with assets everywhere, not knowing who made what edit to a file, when, or why?

You know the answer to that –– it’s too often.

Cross-team collaboration between artists, designers, and developers is an integral part of the development process today. But design tools lack the robust, team-oriented features that can enhance collaboration. With the world now remote, teams need a way to collaborate and share assets with one another, while using different tools.

Challenges of Simple File and Folder Sharing

File-sharing solutions — Google Drive, Dropbox, and Email — are an option. The problem is these solutions are not strongly integrated with the tools either of these groups use. Teams end up passing files back and forth with “_V3” or “_LH_edits.” These methods also leave valuable digital assets unsecure and easily susceptible to hacking.

In the virtual production and game development process, artists and designers use popular tools such as Photoshop, 3ds Max, Maya, and more. They often generate multiple versions of very large files, at numerous stages of design and production workflows. As projects scale, they require something more than shared folders, which only address the issue of access.

A better way to control, manage, and collaborate is a version control system that allows that centralizes asserts and enhances collaboration for everyone on the team, including designers and developers.

What Designers Say About Game Development in the 2020s

We surveyed over 500 of your peers on the current state and future of game development in the 2020s. Find out what they had to say about trends, challenges, and tools essential for game development. Get your copy of the game development report.

Get the Report

How Version Control Helps Artists & Designers

Using version control empowers your team. It organizes their files and keeps track of every change and version. You can even compare versions of files to see changes. Having a single source of truth for all assets — designs and code — streamlines your build process, giving teams faster and more accurate feedback. With version control, contributors on a team always know they are working on the correct and most recent version of a file.

From a business standpoint, the primary purpose of version control is to protect your intellectual property. By providing security, permissions for access, backups, and disaster recovery, you always know your valuable digital assets are protected. It also prevents people from making accidental deletions or undesirable changes.

Your version control system tracks changes, including the creation and deletion of files as well as edits. The history of changes is an important feature and should include the author, date, and notes on the purpose of each change. Some systems have powerful undo features, so changes can be reverted. These features are all as equally valuable for graphics and design files as they are for source code. Overall, these features dramatically improve productivity, no matter the team role.

Why Some Designers Don’t Like Version Control

Designers know using basic file-sharing solutions are not ideal. But many version control systems require them to learn complex new tools instead of the products they love. Many of these solutions lack intuitive interfaces and rely on arcane commands and terminal windows to manage files. Compounding the situation, most return messages that need human translation. It’s a UX nightmare.

But there is an even larger reason why designers are reluctant to join the party: most versioning systems can’t hold their extremely large graphics files. For example, binaries generated by popular design tools from companies like Adobe and Autodesk require a high-performant system to manage.

What the Best Version Control For Designers

To enhance collaboration, centralize assets, and secure everything (without unnecessary complexity) you need Perforce Helix Core — the game and media standard for version control.

Of course, Helix Core has been serving teams of developers and designers for years. Recently we’ve added another tool Helix Sync — the free desktop client created just for non-coders. No more unsecure email or DropBox. Studios can protect and reuse digital assets with the performance required to manage ever-increasing file size. With Helix Sync, teams get a single source of truth for all digital assets, leading to faster builds and seamless collaboration.

How Does Helix Sync Work

Helix Sync offers designers and artists and ideal solution. There is no need to use any new tools. Team members can simply drag and drop assets. It’s easy to get started.

  1. Connect to a Helix Visual Client (P4V) workspace.
  2. Create using the tools you love — Maya, 3ds Max, Photoshop, and more.
  3. Drag and drop assets into a local folder to version. Learn more >>

Because all your digital assets and code and stored in the same place, you get more accurate builds, without having to track down assets.


How One Media Company Scaled Photoshop Versioning 

As one global media entertainment company grew, it became more and more difficult for their designers to keep track of all their assets across numerous projects. With developers and designers in San Francisco, Prague, and Seoul, work was getting overwritten or lost.

They tried Git to manage design files because one of their engineering teams was using it. But Git couldn’t handle the large files involved in their projects.

Also, reviewing designers’ work across multiple locations was difficult. Producers and art directors couldn’t see how a design evolved or why an individual designer had made certain decisions along the way.

Learn How The Entertainment Technology Center Enhanced Collaboration >>  

The company’s primary software development team was already using Helix Core as their version control system. So, they decided to try Helix Sync.

Designers knew immediately that they found the right tool. They used Helix Sync to open files, check them out, and submit them all while using their preferred tool Photoshop. With Photoshop versioning, when they complete their work, they could simply drop and drag the files to their Helix Sync folder, adding descriptions of their work for future reference. The Helix Visual Merge Tool let them compare versions of their designs side by side. 

When the developers in California are ready for the artwork assets, they know exactly where to find them, whether they are collaborating with a modeling team in Eastern Europe or illustrators in APAC. Art Directors know their designs are consistent across teams and can easily review changes.

Get Started With the Best Version Control For Designers

To achieve tighter integration between teams and accelerate development, use Perforce Helix Core version control + Helix Sync. You can try it free for up to 5 users.


Already a Customer?