I often create a collection of images in Illustrator or Photoshop which require a specific sequence of manual steps in order to maintain a similar appearance across a series.
Actions or scripts generally don't work well because each step requires some manual interaction to ensure the final appearance is correct.
For example, in Illustrator I start with a different base path each time then:
- Apply Graphic Style A
- Apply Graphic Style B (a 3D effect)
- Apply Graphic Style C (a 3D effect)
- Apply Graphic Style D (a 3D effect)
- (total of 3 - 3D objects now)
- Expand Appearance for all 3 objects
- Apply Graphic Style B1 to original shape in B (direct select)
- Apply Graphic Style C1 to original shape in C (direct select)
- Apply Graphic Style D1 to original shape in D (direct select)
- Apply Graphic Style E to all 3 objects independently
- Duplicate one object twice
- Pathfinder Unite on each duplicate
- Pathfinder Intersect (to get the common area)
- Apply Graphic Style F
- Move into proper position
- Select all - Group
These are all simple steps on their own and really only take a few moment. With the exception of the last few steps, it could be possibly automated. However, due to the nature of Illustrator's 3D effect, it often takes a minor adjustment to get all faces of an object to appear properly, and the manual positioning needed of any duplicates (it varies) actions and scripts tend to fail. Or would just require a stop after every step, which seems ludicrous to me.
The real important aspect is that the same timeline or order of steps is followed correctly as any variation in them can, and often will, result in a slightly different final image. So, it's not enough to remember the steps, I need to remember the order in which the steps are taken.
So.... Thus far I've simply added a typed note of the basic steps within the file itself. Basically what I've listed above would be included within the file. Often set as a non-printing object. This has allowed me to keep a record of the steps needed if I return to the file months or years later and need to remember the correct procedure.
All the styles and colors remain as part of the file so there's no need to document those specifically.
Is there a better method to keeping track of specific procedural steps needed to gain a formatted appearance?