5 Tips to Speed Up Your Workflow in Sketch

Since introducing our design team to Sketch over a year, we’ve now fully transitioned our workflow to be 100% Sketch. Before we used a combination of Photoshop, OmniGraffle and Illustrator. Sketch simplified and sped up our design process so I wanted to share my top 5 tips that help my workflow every day.

1. Use 1px rectangle instead of lines

I used to use lines for all my breaklines. After all, if I need a line using the line tool seemed like the best solution. If you draw a 1px line, you either have to give it a half-pixel y coordinate (A) or have a line that is on a whole pixel but one that looks blurry in mock ups (B.)

The half-pixel trick worked until I shared the spec with ui engineer. He was confused about how to render a line that started on a half-pixel coordinate. I started snapping the lines to whole pixel coordinates in mockups to avoid the confusion. Yet, I couldn’t stand the blurriness even if I knew it would look sharp in production.

Instead of using a line when you want to draw a line, draw a rectangle (C.)

Rectangles, even the ones only 1 pixel tall, start and end at whole pixel coordinates and result in a sharp image and easy math for engineers.

2. Rounded Corners

Confession: when I needed rounded corners, I used to edit rectangle points by hand. This took a significant chunk of time: getting the handles all the same, making sure both corners were the same amount of roundness, etc.

Don’t be like old me. You can type in the location where you want rounded corners to be and Sketch will round them to your specified digit of roundness.

The corner radius field will take input in this format: a/b/c/d. Using this format, you can specify which corner you want to round and by how much.

Using this trick, it’s easy to create rounded corners anywhere you desire. Below are few of square examples with their rounded corner values below them.

3. Moving and expanding elements just got easier than 2+2

Use simple math to move or scale your elements by adjusting the value in Position and Size fields.

This is especially useful when you’ve moved something about 27 pixels up and need to adjust your container to fit. It’s not super difficult to do the math in your head but there’s an easier alternative. You can just type +27 in the direction that you need the container to grow and Sketch will compute the new coordinates. Same trick applies to the Size field.

In the example above, I made the gray box 27 pixel taller and moved everything down to fit. This resulted in the white container being too short, so I used the + shortcut to grow it to accommodate my updated design.

4. Symbols — nest them, use them

If your designs call for repetitive elements like icons, Symbols will save you tons of time. I’m especially a fan of nested Symbols for different icon and button states. Ever spend an afternoon going through your mockups changing a green button to blue? That will no longer be necessary.

To create a Symbol, select the layers you want to re-use and click “Create Symbol”. To nest Symbols, use this naming convention: Symbol Name/State.

Now that you’ve defined your Symbols, you can use them anywhere in your document. If you need to alter a Symbol, change it anywhere and the changes will propagate to everywhere where this Symbol is used. Nesting Symbols allow you to quickly switch button states like in the example above.

If your buttons need to be flexible width or height, use Layer Styles instead of a Symbols.

5. Text Styles

If you haven’t explored Text Styles yet, you’re in for a treat. Similarly to Symbols, Text Styles take a little bit of upfront planning and ongoing maintenance but save you time in the long run. If you share your Sketch files with a big team, keep a copy with a source of truth in case somebody accidentally overwrites your working copy.

To create a Text Style, select your desired text and above the font attributes click on “No Text Styles”. Then scroll all the way to the bottom and click “Create New Text Styles” to create a Text Style. You can edit the name, now or a later, and you can organize and manage your Text Styles from the same dropdown.

Like Symbols and Layer Styles, Text Styles will preserve any changes you make to the text across your document. In the example above, you can see that when I change the text color to pink, it changes in all other instances where that Text Style (section title) is applied.

These are the 5 shortcuts I use the most in my day to day work. Let me know in the comments what tricks you use to optimize your workflow!

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