Why I use sketch 3 and how I left Adobe

A story of my life through design software

It´s been 12 years trying to push pixels to the right place - and still keep trying. This story is about how designers have to be on the innovation wave lip if they don´t want to fall on the obsolescence.

1. Photoshop

Around 2003, when I received a grant to study sociology at Complutense, University of Madrid, I bought my first Laptop and a digital camera. I first started installing photoshop CS. That were hard times, no idea of the interface, with a very slow Windows XP, trying to play with images was just a matter of adding filters, lace cuttings, distortion and a lot of patient - I actually learned how to play with a Tech Deck finger board waiting for this long renders -.

It was really fun, I used to think that photoshop was infinite, everyday I was learning something new and fresh.

2. Macromedia Freehand

After a couple of years I met freehand and I felt in love. Vectors were definitely the thing I had been looking for. When I was 12 or 13 I started to write graffiti. Playing with letters, words and characters was a passion I still keep having and I found in freehand a tool with which keep somehow with this love.

I spent a lot of time drawing freak monsters and editing typefaces, also vectorising with the magic tool and producing plenty of stickers.

3. Illustrator, Indesign and Photoshop

Adobe finally ate Macromedia so I did the change to Illustrator, Indesign and Photoshop mainly. In 2006 I went to an Art School in Granada, Spain, because I received a mobility grant. I learned there a lot of creativity proceses and software skills. Illustrator was my favourite tool that I still keep loving and opening almost everyday. I learned to use it very deeply for multiple projects I was facing and improving day by day with tutorials, a lot of non sleeping hours and a river of ideas flowing.

When I finished the Uni I started my first job in an on/off-line magazine and had the opportunity to show all the skills and learnings I had been gathering during all this training years.

Mainly I was using Indesign for layouts and illustrator for graphic covers. Also Photoshop for editing and cropping images.

4. Dreamweaver and Flash

In 2011 I changed my location to Barcelona and I started to go deeply on the Internet. I love Internet so I was so serious about to know how it works. I learnt HTML, CSS, and how to install and edit Content Manage Systems in an Art School called Escola Massana. Here comes the Dreamweaver times.

I spent lot of time in front of Dreamweaver breaking my brain writing DIVs and CSSs and installing Jqueries. I know is not the proper tool for developers but, come on, I´m not a developer.

That days I was flirting with flash too. I learnt how to create banners and websites using this software. It was nice to play with frames and timelines because I didn´t had the chance to learn video editing tools like After Effects or Premier before. Nowadays flash is dead.

I remember that my teacher was making videoclips with Flash, that was crazy.

5. Fireworks

About 2013 I was using a mix of illustrator and photoshop for designing websites and apps. I was doing all the wireframes and mockups on illustrator because of the easy-to-use vector tools and wide workspace. When I was happy with the mockups I jumped to photoshop to built it pixel perfect. Sadly Illustrator doesn´t love pixels as much as I do.

I never though that much about Fireworks till some of my new colleagues at the office were already using it. I found on fireworks a tool that was mixing vectors and pixel love and despite of having a lot of disadvantages I started to use it on my daily projects.

Fireworks is a software designed for building interfaces but:

  • The visual rendering while working is not very sharp.
  • In 8 working hours could crash about 3 times and some of them you could lose not saved changes.
  • As a good designing pattern I like to do a lot of different versions before deciding which is the best one and I like to see all them on the same screen -to compare- but fireworks doesn´t allow you to do this task.
  • I never delete nothing, so I´m used to keep all the proofs floating around the workspace and Fireworks hides everything is not on your artboard.
Finally Adobe decided to don´t release more updates for this tool so it was an announced dead.

Sketch 3

About mid 2014 I felt in love by second time.

When a colleague showed us the tool all the team was very excited to learn how it worked. We needed to test it deeply in order to do a proper rollout so I installed on my laptop and started working on personal projects at home. I had forgotten how fun it was to learn a new tool!

A new world full of big workspaces, sharp pixels, shortcuts and multiple art boards has arrived.

Bellow some of the features of Sketch3 I would like to highlight.

The tools I need and nothing else

Instead of having a huge amount of tools that I probably won´t never use Sketch reduced them to the strictly necessary for building proper user interfaces. All of them come originally from Adobe and are familiar to me starting from the vector tool and finishing on the object tool, alignment and pathfinder.

Focus on devices

The main purpose of Sketch is to create user interfaces for multiple devices from mobile to desktop.

Autosaving and history

You don´t have to be worry about to saving or not, Sketch is taking care of your work the whole time even if your file is still called “Untitled”. If the software crash, no worries, all your work will be on your screen when you open sketch again.

A very cool feature that I truly never use is the “Revert to”. It´s a nice idea but still not used to it: you actually can navigate through the past versions of your file.

Sketch mirror

Sketch is integrated with your iPhone via Sketch mirror. This App allows you to see real time changes of the design on your device. When working with mobile webs or native Apps you need to constantly check your design in a real device to be sure that spacing and text size is the correct one, for example.

Before I was using Skala Preview which works pretty well but you have to stay drag and dropping constantly your design to the Skala desktop app.

Infinite workspace

While working I like to do a lot of proofs and mess all my workspace with ideas. Sometimes I reject an idea but after some iterations I realise that finally fits with my design. For me is very important a big workspace which I was missing in Photoshop or Fireworks.

Grid creation

Specially for desktop projects working with grids is a must. Sketch allows you to easily create grids and edit them. Still missing a shortcut to show the grid and hide it.

Export easily

When working across platforms and devices you have to export your assets in different densities when not working with icon fonts or SVG. Sketch allows you to easily export your images in all densities and formats needed.

One thing that I love is the possibility to drag and drop directly from sketch preview panel to your folder or to the browser, this saves me a lot of time.

The future

I fairly think that sketch came to stay for a while but you never know. I would love to see a future where design software and prototyping software merge into one.