There’s been a lot of buzz in recent years about a graphic design software called Sketch. Early adopters swear it’s easier and faster than Photoshop. Some even argue it cuts production time in half. I decided to see for myself what this tool is capable of, so I downloaded a free trial of the current version, Sketch 3.4.4. Here are a couple things I learned:
The UI Is Nothing Like Photoshop
It lacks all the robust workspace essentials you see in Photoshop and definitely looks and feels like an Apple app. At first I was overwhelmed because I didn’t know where to begin due to the lack of familiarity. But the good news is it’s easy to learn because actions are intuitive and tools are labeled clearly.
Thankfully, the essential shortcut keys in Photoshop also work in Sketch, which makes it that much easier to navigate and command. Some of the neater shortcuts in Sketch include the ability to quickly tab through and rename layers (⌘ + R) and clone any color anywhere on your artboard with ease (Ctrl + C). Photoshop users can sympathize with me on just how tedious it can be to grab colors from different layers.
With a plugin manager like Sketch Toolbox, installing plugins is a breeze. There are so many plugins available to help streamline your work. For example, finding hundreds of profile avatars and coming up with fictitious names is tedious and time-consuming. Sketch Content Generator allows you to quickly generate placeholder content in seconds. I’ve installed several plugins from a curated list of useful plugins, and so far I’ve found them all very easy to use.
WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)
As a designer, I’ve always struggled with the disappointment of handing off a final comp only to see a not-so-pixel-perfect design launched online months later. Sketch has solved this problem with CSS-centric styles and native text rendering. So fear not, your drop shadows and font weights will match your design perfectly.
What really sets Sketch apart from Photoshop is that all its shapes are vectors, making scalability extremely easy. Let’s face it: there are so many devices now, it’s a challenge to support the varying resolutions. Sketch lets you easily export for multiple resolutions like 2x for retina. This feature is a real game changer for me.
Worthy Photoshop Alternative
While I’m no Sketch expert yet, I am definitely a fan. Photoshop has been and continues to be a great design tool, but it wasn’t originally intended for user interface design. It has definitely evolved to be much more flexible and web friendly, but the legacy functionalities hinder it from truly being the best or easiest web design tool. I hope to continue to learn Sketch and become proficient enough to confidently use it for my day-to-day work.
Stay tuned for more on Sketch.