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My 2 Day Crash Course in Sketch3

So Why All the Fuss?

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After a 2-day crash course experience with Sketch 3, a vector base design application, I’m torn between feeling embarrassed and accomplished. The point of this post is to explain why I’m wrestling with these emotions after just two days in Sketch.

Now, to be clear, I’ve had my days of going back and forth with designers over why they use Sketch. In fact, I’m finding this slightly ridiculous that I’m even writing about my experience in Sketch but please bare with me, there is a point.

So I asked myself, why am I still making such a fuss about Sketch?
I mean come on, to each is own, right? So why the fuss? Well, it’s simple.
I’m human.

According to an article from the Havard Business Review, people resist change due to the fear of losing control. I dedicated many years to master Photoshop to the point where I was teaching people, delivering meet-up seminars and skillfully setting myself apart from the pack. I could not accept another program outside of Photoshop that was possibly better than what I’ve worked so hard to perfect. So yes, due to my resistance to change, I resisted Sketch until this past Friday’s phone conversation with Miguel Vasquez a Manager of Digital Design with Credit Tracker.

During our deep design conversation, he acknowledged he was a user and fan of Sketch 3. My heart quickly pounded and I respond with, “What? No! Why (crying)?!” Soon after the conversation had ended I found myself fixed with a blank stare from the traumatic news Miguel whispered in my ear! Haha!

When I snapped out of the blank stare, I knew I’d had enough. It was time to explore Sketch and defeat the fear of losing control. Instantly, I found myself immersed watching 19 video tutorial based on Sketch 3. When I reached the 19th tutorial (part of a learning series), I immediately dove right into Sketch and challenged myself to recreate a realism piece that even after using Sketch 3, from my experience, I would NOT recommend using Sketch for a project to attain realism. And these are the reasons why: I found that certain texture techniques to achieve realism, via masking or breaking layers apart (to have more control in manipulating vector shapes), could not be achieved in Sketch 3. With that said, I’ve only had two days to figure it out so I tread lightly in fully committing to this assessment. Nevertheless, I knew if I had faced the challenges in replicating a piece of this magnitude, it would force me to solve and learn issues unique to Sketch and make me a Sketch designer over night.

Day 1 — The Foundation

Are there any singers in the house with recording experience? If so, you know very well it’s not a good idea to step into the recording booth while trying to learn the lyrics, melody and vocal delivery all at once. To be successful while recording a song, you must first learn the lyrics, then the melody and practice for hours before stepping into the booth. The same rules apply for design especially when learning a new program. I knew I had to watch enough tutorials to develop a sense of confidence before actually designing in Sketch.

Day 1 was all about designing the foundation and Day 2 was held for detailing. Originally, I created this piece in illustrator beginning with the pen-tool then I finalized the look & feel in Photoshop. My goal was to replicate this piece completely in Sketch.

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I started with a screen shot of the Illustrator piece, then imported the screen shot into Sketch where I began designing with the V tool (equivalent to the Pen Tool in Photoshop & Illustrator. Ehhh, not really). ;)

The challenges in Day 1 were:
· Becoming comfortable with the tools in Sketch.
· Achieve familiarity for the workflow.
· Learn Masking.
· Joining shapes.
· Memorizing Key Board Shortcuts.

Day 2 — The Fun Begins

This is where the real challenges began to surface. Ultimately, the more I used the program the more confident I became and convinced myself that yes, I can use Sketch. But the real goal was to learn, solve problems and see how far I could push the limits while designing in Sketch. There were a couple of moments where I became discouraged but I had come so far, giving up wasn’t an option. For example, Sketch’s masking power, joining of shapes and vector shape manipulation, were limited. I continued to remind myself, A. Don’t give up and B. you probably wouldn’t be using Sketch for a project geared toward this goal so keep on pushing and have fun.

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Finally, I designed and reached a level of realism that I was satisfied with. It felt amazing to see something of this magnitude being completed in a program not truly intended for realism but I think I’ve just created an argument for that.

Conclusion — To Sketch or not to Sketch.

Am I completely satisfied with the final result? I’d say I’m about 90% content. To the naked eye you may not be able to pick up the flaws but trust me, they are there. I’m almost hesitant to use the word flaws because are they flaws due to lack of experience on my part or just not possible to achieve in Sketch? What I am content with is finally being able to give my own perspective of what I think of Sketch.

If I wanted to design a movie poster or even attempt some realism and grunge something out, I’d definitely use Photoshop. If I want to do a Hand-Lettering piece, I’d definitely use Illustrator. However, if I wanted to design something that needs to be completely vector base that requires a better sense of efficiency for Mobile, Wire-Framing, UI Design or Web, I would absolutely use Sketch.

Within these two days, I have become a better person and a better designer by not allowing my fears to lose control nor my ego to get in the way of embracing the platform Sketch. To all of the designers reading this post that are facing or have faced the fear of losing control, know that you’re not alone and the benefits of risking into the unknown can be extremely rewarding. When mentoring my jr. designers I state the importance of never allowing yourself to reach a point where you have nothing more to learn. Design has an insatiable appetite to evolve as so should you.

Thank you Miguel ;)

Written by

Principal Designer - Microsoft / Creator of Living Design Language and the new http://Walmart.com . / "Being great is separated by a pixel." -Llanos.

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