A new tool is making waves in the design software arena.
Tools of the trade for a digital designer are Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Photoshop is an image editing program and Illustrator is a vector graphics editor. In digital design, the two are used in conjunction with each other; however, this can bring a lot of frustration and slow down the designing process.
As a frequenter of Dribbble, a community for designers to showcase their work, the application Sketch is frequently mentioned in projects and in comments. Not wanting to be left out on the latest technology, I downloaded a free trial of the application to see what it was all about.
After a day of trialling Sketch, I’m officially converted and I’m ready for Sketch to be an industry standard. It’s clear that Sketch has been tailored for designers, bridging the gap between Photoshop and Illustrator. It’s a powerful application; the tools make sense and make for a better intuitive workflow. Designers out there might think that it will be hard to pick up a new program but if you’re proficient in Photoshop and Illustrator, you will be an old pro in Sketch in a matter of days.
Now lets explore some of the features that Sketch has to offer.
*Many of these features do exist in Photoshop/Illustrator CC however I’m writing as a user who doesn’t have CC nor have used it.
Pages and Artboards
Pages allow multiple pages in the one document. This is great for large projects that have lots of designs. It allows each design to be separate but kept within the one document, saving the headache of naming and organising numerous separate PSD files.
Similar to Illustrator, Sketch also has artboards which sit on pages. Sketch has a selection of artboard pre-sets one might use such as iPad and Responsive Web. So no need to memorise or google those dimension anymore.
Pro Tip: By clicking on the group heading of the artboards, this will create all of the artboards side-by-side, which is great for presenting responsive design across different devices or in portrait/landscape view. Users can also save their own custom artboard dimensions for quicker access later on.
Setting up layout guides in Photoshop and Illustrator are a pain. Sketch automates the process similar to the ‘Create Guides’ tool in InDesign. Sketch offers a couple more options, such as the ability to set the total width of the overlay and setting a gutter or column width.
Auto Save & Versions
No more incessant Command + S. As Sketch is a native Mac app, it has adopted Auto Save and Versions, features introduced with OS X (10.7) Lion that works with other native apps such as Preview and iWork.
Auto Save will save during pauses or after 5 mins when working continuously, whilst Versions index a new version of your document every time you open it and every hour while you are working it. Version allows users to review earlier versions with the ability to restore or copy from previous versions.
Learn more here: OS X Lion – About Auto Save and Versions
This is one of my favourite tools. With the release of IOS 7, blurring content behind transparent layers in UI design has become a bit of a hot trend. Sketch has made it super easy to achieve with only a few simple clicks.
For those who haven’t made the switch to Photoshop CC yet will share my rage with how tedious editing rounded rectangles are in either Photoshop or Illustrator. Want to change the radius or change the width or height of a rounded rectangle? Redraw the rectangle.
Sketch allows for adjustments on radiuses along the way, but wait for it – different corners can have different sized radiuses. Any shapes with a corner can be rounded, not just rectangles. Put a radius on it!
Ever wanted to fill a shape and then add multiple gradients or colour overlays to it? Sketch lets shapes and text have infinite fills/borders/shadows in the one object. Super handy.