I don’t like change. It makes me uncomfortable. Especially when it involves something that I’ve learned to use and appreciate for years, Photoshop.
When I first read about sketch I was naturally skeptic about it. I thought it was just a thing that was going to be hyped for a little while and then face the fate of numerous “gonna solve all the things” tools.
I would gladly admit that part of the reason behind this is that Sketch had the audacity and the nerve to confront head on what I assumed was the best and only way to do things, also know as “my way”.
I can’t say that I was adventurous or curious on that one…
I definitely didn’t win the right to brag about the fact that I was using it before anybody else.
Today was the launch of Sketch 3.0. I do not think you could have missed it if you follow what is happening in the UI design community even a little.
Feeling surprisingly adventurous, I caved and decided to click on the free trial button because I’m crazy like that.
The size of it was the first thing that caught my attention, I was expecting the mandatory few GB, ready to go grab a coffee and read one or two Games of Thrones book during the download, but no.
A few seconds later, it was unzipped and ready to go. The splash screen gave me a few options and just like that it was open. Impressive.
Quick note on that, having a sketch document explaining you how to use the program is an incredibly clever way to walk you through it.
And then I did what every user of every product always do:
I dived in without checking any documentation.
Downloading it was one thing but I wasn’t going to give it the satisfaction of walking me through a tutorial, no sir! This way if I didn’t get it, I would have had the satisfaction to do what I usually do when I do not understand something: violently hit ⌘+Q and yell “This sucks!” to anybody unlucky enough to be in my vicinity.
I was wrong… again
Nothing like this happened and that’s when I realized that the people at Bohemian coding knew what they were doing. The transition between Photoshop and Sketch is really smooth and doesn’t go against your habits.
Of course you’re going to make a few mistakes, especially with the shortcuts - I kept drawing vectors everywhere because I was constantly hitting “V” -but other than that, I started creating a fairly complicated project from scratch without having to Google any help.
The grid and panel system is a blast and the smart guides with the combination of the ALT key bring me to a level of satisfaction that is almost indecent. You find yourself checking every spacing and enjoying seeing all these numbers and rulers popping everywhere.
My life long quest of organizing everything perfectly finally has its tool.
Here is one thing I noticed after using it for a few hours. It felt like everything was so mathematical and pragmatic that I wasn’t really “designing”. It’s hard to explain (I tried to approach that in an other article) but seeing everything so perfectly suited for interface design made me approach my work in a different way, less about visual design that it was about UX. It made me see what I do on a daily basis differently.
I think this is due to the learning curve. Right now my visual process was deeply attached to the way Photoshop worked. In a sense, the tool was dictating the thinking. Change this tool and it’s like you do not know how to design anymore.
The benefit from a production and UX standpoint is incredible.
The way it handles asset export, artboards and slices has no match.
The benefit from a purely aesthetic standpoint is still to define for me.
I was inclined to do more simplistic stuff which can be good and bad.
That being said, the all vector based design and the way it handles curves and points is very solid, more than PS on that aspect.
Maybe I was also disoriented by the very Keynote-like interface, which is beautiful but way different from Photoshop CC.
Then again, this is an impression after a first day of use so don’t take this for granted, first impressions are rarely accurate. I do not know if it will fully replace Photoshop but it will be definitely a big part of my process.
I have a lot to learn. I should have started sooner.
I guess I wrote this just to share that this is absolutely worth trying, if you were still hesitating. Not only because it looks like a incredibly useful tool but also because you will approach your process differently, and this is worth a click isn’t it?
I’m definitely not ready to give any advice or guidance on how to use it, I’m still a newbie so I gathered a few links below from people that actually know what they are talking about. On my side, I’ll explore it more and maybe release a first Sketch freebie ☺.