Why should I use sketch?

6 years ago from , Senior Designer at Digital Surgeons

A friend and I are working on an iphone app. He's developing, and I'm designing. Neither of us have ever used sketch. I often think of possibly using sketch for a new project, but it always comes down to thinking that I can move a lot faster in photoshop rather than attempting to learn a new program.

So are there any big advantages of using sketch over photoshop for app design? Also are there any advantages from a developers point of view?


  • Ryan MurphyRyan Murphy, almost 6 years ago

    You'll never be faster in sketch until you actually use it.

    20 points
    • Jeff EscalanteJeff Escalante, almost 6 years ago

      Yeah, this is pretty much the answer for any new tools. You could always learn one set of tools then use that for the rest of your life and never try anything else because it's what you're most familiar with. Or you could take a gamble and try something new that people seem to think is better on the theory that if you put in a small time investment initially to learn it, it will pay massive dividends in saving you time indefinitely into the future.

      For me, it's pretty much always worth that small gamble. I'm primarily a developer, so this is much more salient since tools are in so much more abundance and change more quickly, but for all my design work the same principles have applied. I remember biting the bullet and trying out sketch when the photoshop shortcuts were so second nature to me and it was frustrating, but after about a week of work I was already faster and doing better work (vector too), so I'm pretty confident in saying that it paid off very quickly.

      0 points
  • Vasil EnchevVasil Enchev, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

    This is my list of what I would use top to bottom...

    1. Illustrator

    2. Sketch

    3. Affinity Design

    4. Photoshop

    In other words everything is better than photoshop for UI/UX design :)

    6 points
    • Raúl De ZamaconaRaúl De Zamacona, almost 6 years ago

      The voice of reason, Illustrator is the best tool, I think some think Sketch is awesome because the have never used Illustrator for UI Design, only photoshop.

      2 points
    • Account deleted almost 6 years ago

      Illustrator wasn't made for pixel-based layout and it doesn't handle it very well. That's why Sketch is so universally loved - it's the best blend of vector based drawing with pixel-precise grid.

      18 points
    • Robert MapleRobert Maple, almost 6 years ago

      Definitely agree on illustrator. I've tried to use sketch and whilst it has a few nice features with regards to exporting, I've always found myself returning to illustrator for its far superior handling of creating and editing paths. Illustrator's pen tool, pathfinder and masking alone is far superior and makes light work of tasks that are a pain to achieve in Sketch. Sketch is definitely a a promising tool and already better suited to UI design than Photoshop although I really don't get why people havn't been using illustrator all along!

      1 point
      • c kizerc kizer, almost 6 years ago

        I've created about 15 iPhone apps. I work 10 hours a day in Sketch. Maybe twice in the entire existence of all those apps did we need to use the pen tool.

        If your iPhone app somehow involves creating a bunch of art loading screens then use illustrator.

        If on the other hand you want to rapidly create an app that's going to use fairly standard Apple style UINavbar, tableview, or any of that stuff, Sketch is what you want to start with.

        Exporting from Sketch is easy. It works in pixels, multiple format. Has a mirroring tool to mirror it on all the devices at once, in realtime. Comes with artboard presets. Comes with Symbols. You can use the dozens of vector sketch libraries to copy and paste premade iPhone stuff into your app and customize it. Need a status bar? copy/paste change color. Need a header bar? How about a table row with some avatars? Copy and paste modify from a sketch template.

        Click export all assets in a folder instantly. Meanwhile on my 5k iMac Illustrator is busy redrawing the window every time I zoom or pan.

        You'll still need illustrator at some point if your using an icon pack or to copy and paste a complex path. But I probably do this maybe once or twice a month to get a logo or draw something with the pen tool. You will almost NEVER use the pen tool when creating iPhone apps.

        0 points
      • Ramis KhawajaRamis Khawaja, almost 6 years ago

        I love illustrator too, but as many have already said it is a vector based program. Sketch combines the pixel perfection of Ps and the freedom of Ai into one awesome program! :P

        0 points
  • Leslie WilliamsLeslie Williams, almost 6 years ago

    Recently picked sketch. I've never been faster at producing....anything.....ever!. I can make changes on the fly and i can cascade same changes across boards quickly. Plus, it lets you take an overview of the look and feel of the app you're building.....something PS will never let you do

    5 points
    • Wouter RamakerWouter Ramaker, almost 6 years ago

      You could though... .psb's and smart objects! If you want real time updates you'll need to add a script for that, but also doable.

      0 points
      • Account deleted almost 6 years ago

        1 sketch file with 30+ artboards for screens is pretty common and easy to do. Doing that with photoshop is doable but not built for it.

        0 points
  • Evan DinsmoreEvan Dinsmore, almost 6 years ago

    I have 15 years of experience with Photoshop. I can move very fast both to prototype and make high-fidelity mockups. The more I use it, the more I customize my workspace, keyboard shortcuts, and overall workflow to work even faster. If you're like me, Sketch will probably be several times slower and you'll be frustrated with type and image rendering.

    Use whatever tool allows you to produce high quality work quickly.

    4 points
    • Michael AleoMichael Aleo, almost 6 years ago

      I'm with you. I don't care what brand of tools you use to put together my car, just do a good job.

      1 point
    • Bryce York, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

      I actually find text rendering one of the ways Sketch beats Photoshop. I find it's much closer to the in-browser experience than photoshop.

      Plus it's nice not to have to think about crisp, strong etc.

      EDIT: I love love love Shopify, so whatever you're using works.

      0 points
      • Evan DinsmoreEvan Dinsmore, almost 6 years ago

        It's hard to match in-browser, especially when there's windows/mac, retina/non, etc. But most of the work I do ends up on mobile devices, so that could be why I find Photoshop's better. I also like the added flexibility of choosing the text rendering, since you can usually find one that will come close to whatever device you're designing for, especially with the Mac and Mac LCD options that were added recently.

        Glad you like Shopify! Our team uses a combination of Photoshop and Sketch, depending on personal preference, with some Illustrator thrown in there as well.

        1 point
  • Dave HallDave Hall, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

    From a studio workflow and efficiency perspective I'm a fan of :

    • Pixel coordinate layouts

    • Vector based

    • Shared styles across artboards

    • Custom symbol libraries for consistent, reuseable components (e.g. native OS UI elements)

    • Intuitive CSS inspection which developers can use to quickly see for things like corner radius and gradient rules for use in production code

    • Flexibility around exporting assets for different pixel density displays

    • Sketch Mirror app for projecting artboards to iOS devices while working

    • Price

    We're very pleased with it.

    4 points
  • Marcel Wichmann Marcel Wichmann , almost 6 years ago

    I wrote this post yesterday and it might help you with your decision. Sorry for the shameless self-plug: http://uarrr.org/post/102968522741/sketch-an-acquired-taste

    4 points
  • Braylan GrayBraylan Gray, almost 6 years ago

    If you're making an iPhone app, I would definitely give Sketch a try (Specifically since it is geared toward iOS design). Sketch even has certain aspects that integrate nicely with Xcode, so handing off assets and screens may be a more seamless experience between the two of you.

    Me personally.....I prefer a mix of Photoshop and Illustrator. Many people think PS is too bloated, but I think it's all about creating the best Photoshop workspace that's conducive to your design needs.

    I WILL SAY that I love Affinity Designer. I can't wait until Affinity Photo and Publisher come out.....It would be nice to actually own design software again.

    2 points
    • bradee evansbradee evans, almost 6 years ago

      What do you love about Affinity? It felt to me they went down a very panel-y bloat road when they could have simplified much more.

      1 point
  • Peter Assentorp, almost 6 years ago

    This should explain everything: http://blog.mengto.com/sketch-vs-photoshop/

    2 points
  • Bryce York, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

    I learnt to design and spend many years using Photoshop but I always felt like I was using a tool that wasn't quite right for the job.

    obscureMetaphor -- like using a flathead screwdriver for a phillips head screw.

    I then switched to Fireworks because: - everything was in pixels - UI overlap with PS made transition smoother - adjustable rounded corners

    I really liked it but when Adobe canned the project I knew I had to find something else. I got put onto Sketch and was really hesitant to use something indie (it wasn't so popular yet).

    I did one landing page design and I was hooked. It's infinitely better than anything else I've used. Quite simply, it's designed for the job.

    As everyone has said, it's great for exporting but every aspect I've used so far has been superior to PS or Fireworks.

    One thing I found really handy is that while I would never use the generated CSS (I'm a frontend dev first, UI designer second) the beauty is hidden in the fact that there's almost nothing you can do in Sketch that can't be represented cleanly in code (with blur being the notable exception for web-based projects).

    Also, I strongly believe that Illustrator will now and for the foreseeable future be the place to design custom vectors (icons, logos etc) but for everything else there's Sketch.

    Can't recommend Sketch highly enough.

    1 point
  • Edwin de JonghEdwin de Jongh, almost 6 years ago

    I have been using Photoshop for a long time now, and my whole workflow is based around Photoshop. I'm definitely open to trying new software, and I wanna give Sketch a go sooner rather than later (Once I get a proper Mac setup, I'm on Windows now).

    However, I feel like a lot of people don't really know the vast majority of things Photoshop is capable of. There are so many instances of people boasting a feature of Sketch that Photoshop already had for a long time, but they just didn't know about it.

    Also, I use Photoshops raster tools pretty often during general design, something that Sketch doesn't offer. I guess it depends on the project and style.

    1 point
  • Sam MorrisSam Morris, almost 6 years ago

    It depends what you use it for. I end up finishing off the design in the browser and where I'm at now, there's less of a requirement for producing polished jpegs. So in that sense, I use Photoshop simply because I'm quicker with it than I am with Sketch.

    That said Sketch is brilliant at exporting. We've had to export print quality mockups of screens for marketing and sketch allows you to do that incredibly easily. Same for exporting assets, which will help a lot with the app.

    For The Guardian app, we produced mockups in Photoshop and then asset sheets in Sketch. This made trivial to export for @3x when that went down.

    It really depends on the project though. Sketch has it's advantage and disadvantages, so does Photoshop. It's good to see Sketch because competition for Photoshop can only be a good thing. If you don't have a tight deadline, have a good sense of what you're going to do and you're willing to be slowed down for a week or so, then learn something new. It can't hurt to at least be aware of the alternatives, even if you do opt back to Photoshop in the end.

    1 point
  • Dan WilkinsonDan Wilkinson, 6 years ago

    I was in the same position a few months back, saw the boom in Sketch and thought I'd give it a try - haven't looked back since...

    Don't get me wrong, I still use Photoshop for 'Photoshop things', but as a web & app design tool.... Sketch all the way for me.

    I almost feel that Sketch is everything designers wanted Photoshop to be when it comes to Web, App & UI design.

    There's enough reviews & posts for you to get yourself going. Even better, Sketch offer a trial.

    1 point
  • Sean LesterSean Lester, almost 6 years ago

    I'm curious as well. I'm finally in a Mac environment so if there's a strong case for picking it up, I'd like to hear it.

    1 point
  • Matt Pringle, almost 6 years ago

    Thanks guys, all very useful. Think I'm going to go with sketch for this project. It will be a good opportunity to learn the program seeing how it's a personal project.

    0 points
  • Charlie McCullochCharlie McCulloch, almost 6 years ago

    I used it for the first time recently to design a small iOS app as an experiment (having used photoshop for apps for 6 years) and it was generally great.

    Some advantages over photoshop: - slicing is incredibly easy, no need to use scripts to export for different devices - symbols make it so quick to experiment with global styling as opposed to photoshop's cumbersome linked smart objects - very quick to learn because the whole package is made for UI design - built in grid system specifically for layout

    Disadvantages: - it's a bit of a pain to work with colour. OSX' built in colour picker is crap - some controls are needlessly nested within others (stroke settings for example) - working with text feels a bit fiddly

    0 points
  • Ma BaoMa Bao, almost 6 years ago

    Lightweight, easy to use, to fit degree is high, fast output IOS/tablet PC, CSS compatibility degree is higher;UI/UX VIEW:https://designcode.io

    0 points
  • Kat ☺, almost 6 years ago

    I only started using Sketch last week. I'm already as fast as I was in Photoshop/Illustrator (if not faster), which took me years to become quick in. It's intuitive and clean. I don't know about you but when I use Photoshop I feel like I'm cheating. Like I'm creating things in a really messy, half-assed way.

    0 points
  • Kip HolcombKip Holcomb, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

    Since people are talking about alternatives, I haven't seen PaintCode 2 mentioned yet. Because it exports Obj-C/Swift, and defining variables is critical to using it as a design tool, I feel like it's an interesting bridge between the designer and developer. The symbols are very powerful and StyleKit looks really cool. Check out the tutorials and you'll see what I mean.

    0 points
  • Cihad TurhanCihad Turhan, almost 6 years ago

    Align to pixel grid and background blur.

    My favorites :)

    0 points
  • John CanelisJohn Canelis, almost 6 years ago

    Most people covered everything... I'd say I feel happier doing UI in Sketch than any other application. I just plain enjoy doing the work more whereas in Photoshop I feel frustrated.

    0 points
    • bradee evansbradee evans, almost 6 years ago

      I work on/for Photoshop, and I feel frustrated sometimes too... I'd love to hear more... about all the various ways you feel frustrated. Other than the general busy feel of Photoshop... what about your interaction specifically is frustrating.

      1 point
  • Sean LesterSean Lester, almost 6 years ago

    Any good video series' out there that cover getting started with Sketch?

    0 points
    • Braylan GrayBraylan Gray, almost 6 years ago

      This Series is really good, and I think they are still adding to it.

      1 point
    • Bryce York, almost 6 years ago

      I'd recommend checking out DesignCode.io it's worth the investment just for the Sketch guides, but there's also XCode (Swift) stuff included as well.

      You also get a nice discount on Sketch as part of the purchase price.

      0 points
  • David KeeganDavid Keegan, almost 6 years ago

    For me the big advantage of Sketch is speed. I was hesitant to make the switch from Photoshop to Sketch as well, until I spent an afternoon designing a concept for an app and saw the advantages immediately. For me it feels that what I need in Sketch is always at my finger tips without having to be constantly switching tools like in Photoshop. The way that you can select any element in your mockup just by double clicking until you drill down far enough is huge for me for quickly laying out and adjusting controls.

    Other advantages are symbols and layer and text styles. These make it really fast to reuse icons and make sure all the colors and fonts are consistent throughout the design.

    We've switched over completely to Sketch at Acorns.

    0 points