6 Awesome, but subtle new Features in Sketch 53

Sketch has brought some really valuable features with version 53

Marc Andrew
Feb 6, 2019 · 6 min read

As updates go, Version 53 is not what I’d call revolutionary in any shape or form, but the subtle changes that have been implemented in this version will make your time spent inside of Sketch a much more enjoyable, streamlined, and time-saving one.

Let me share my thoughts with you good people…

1 . HSL Colours are now in the mix!

HEX? RGB? Nah! They’re so retro maaannnn.

HSL is a much more powerful, more intuitive, and recommended format to use when creating colour relationships and swatches inside of your projects.

And if you’re still thinking ‘Pray tell, what is this HSL sorcery you speak of?’, here’s a super-quick overview…

Fire up the Colour Wheel!

Hue pretty much determines what colour of the Spectrum you’re on, with the value of the Hue being the angle of that colour on the Colour Wheel.

With Red starting at 0 degrees, and the rest of the colours following along the 360 degrees.

Saturation pretty much controls how vivid or dull the Colour appears, where 100% Saturation means there’s no addition of Grey to the Hue, and at the other extreme a Hue with 0% Saturation appears as a Medium Grey.

Lightness simply measures the relative degree of Black or White that’s been mixed with a chosen Hue.

Adding White makes the colour lighter (creates Tints) and adding Black makes it darker (creates Shades).

It’s great that HSL is now a format option in Sketch.

Happy colour schemes. Happy Designers (and Developers).

2. Symbol Overrides have had an upgrade

This just brings the power of Symbols to the fore even more.

Little by little Bohemian Coding are making their own take on Symbols more versatile, more reliable and simpler to use with each update.

Now, Symbols first arrived on the Sketch scene back in version 3.0 (yes they were using decimal points then. So, so Retro!), and Bohemian Coding have, over time, refined the way they function. The big one was when they introduced Overrides into the mix allowing us to easily customise elements of our Symbol instances via the Inspector panel. Oh the time saving they brought to the party that time!

But, and this is one thing I also had a bit of an issue with when working on creating my own Design System for Sketch; Cabana, is that there were, on the odd occasion, certain elements of a Symbol that I didn’t want appearing in the Inspector and which could bring on the dreaded Override-Overload.

So what’s the sneaky hack that we used to call upon? Yup. Click that Padlock icon to hide X, Y or Z element.

But this wasn’t ideal, especially when Sketch introduced Style Overrides, and it also felt, well, like I said, a bit HackyMcHacky. Ugh!

Now with the Manage Overrides panel (which is available in the Inspector when you select the Symbol Master), you can easily choose which of the elements for a specific Symbol are Overridable, and viewable in the Inspector when working on a project, by simply checking or unchecking the box next to the Layers name.

That’s more like it Sketch.

3. Check out those Overrides in the Layer List. Wow!

Like many of the new features added to Sketch 53, this is a subtle, but handy feature to have when working on a larger project, or when you and your team have implemented a Design System into your workflow.

When working with Symbols, and having that one Symbol that is verging on Override-Overload once more, it can be a bit of a chore to find the Override you’re looking for in the Inspector.

But with version 53, Overrides can now be viewed, and selected in both the Layer List and Canvas, which in turn allows you to quickly find the Override you want to edit, and isolate it inside of the Inspector panel.

4. Let’s label up those Colours shall we?

This again is such a subtle but oh so handy feature to have at your disposal. Being able to label your Colours for much easier reference is, well, let Dave and Sarah explain this better…

“Hey Dave, make sure you use that Pink for the Form Buttons”.

“What’s the HEX value again for that Sarah. I have 33 Pinks saved in my Document Colors?”

Dave and Sarah update to Sketch 53…

“Dave, make sure we use Hot Pink Summer for all Form Buttons”.

“You betcha Sarah”.

Cue an Anchorman style high-five from across the open-plan office.

And even better if you do have a Style Guide or Design System in amongst your team, you can have a solid naming consistency all the way through. Beautiful!

5. Find those Frequently used Images and Colours with ease

Another small but very handy feature to have, and something I’ve definitely appreciated more when working on a large Design System, and trying to search for that specific image I’d used 6 times previously but couldn’t for the life of me remember which folder I’d popped it into. Phew!

Frequently Used Images (and frequently used colours too) can now be selected from the Image tab in the Fill popover with a swift click of the Clock icon there on the panel.

Now, this is not a shout it from the rooftops feature, and more subtler than Mrs Subtle from Subtle City, but it does shave off time and keep you more focused on the project at hand. Always a bonus in my eyes!

6. Sketch 53 is not gobbling up RAM like PacMan

Well, it’s not exactly a feature-feature as such, but it’s welcome nonetheless.

In all the time I’ve been using Sketch, which is about since version 2 point something, I’ve never had any major performance issues with the app. The only time things went a little screwy is when 52 came around and Sketch did not play nicely with my Graphics Card, with my screen plagued with various anomalies.

Oh and the RAM on my MBP seemed to be melting from over usage also. Not cool.

But from what I’ve experienced with 53, things are back on more stable ground, and both my RAM and Graphics Card are now breathing a unified sigh of relief.

Wrapping things up here!

Version 53 is subtle improvements at their finest, and makes working with Sketch a much more streamlined and enjoyable experience.

Sometimes it’s the small things that count right?

📣 Oh! Before you go…

Just to let you know that my Premium Design System for Sketch; Cabana is Version 53 ready!

🎁 Design Better, Smarter, and Faster in Sketch. You can pick up a copy of my fully featured Design System — Cabana right here.

Use the offer code MEDIUM30 to receive 30% OFF.

Thanks for reading the article,


Designer, Author, Father and Lover of a little dose of Chicane on Spotify.

Design + Sketch

The best collection of articles, tips, tutorials, and…

Marc Andrew

Written by

Designer. Tutor. Created Cabana Design System for Figma https://cabanaforfigma.com & Sketch https://cabanadesignsystem.com

Design + Sketch

The best collection of articles, tips, tutorials, and stories on designing and prototyping with Sketch and beyond

Marc Andrew

Written by

Designer. Tutor. Created Cabana Design System for Figma https://cabanaforfigma.com & Sketch https://cabanadesignsystem.com

Design + Sketch

The best collection of articles, tips, tutorials, and stories on designing and prototyping with Sketch and beyond

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