Update: Sketch 49 changed the way Artboards are exported. A large Artboard with smaller Artboards placed on top of it can no longer be exported as a single image. To do this in Sketch 49+, convert the surrounding artboard to a slice layer to export all the content within. Read more at https://www.sketchapp.com/support/troubleshooting/nested-artboard-export
Sometimes there is no way around the need for a Slide Deck. It doesn’t seem to matter that you are designing and building at the same time, rapidly iterating a clickable prototype that you’ve made available online for everyone in the organization to go and have a look at, click through, read, use, test. But they don’t. They are waiting for the Slide Deck.
They want that landscape 16:9 file, the attachment-friendly PDF, and they want it sent in an email, with a copy in Dropbox, one low-res version, one high-res version, one detailed version, one really short version, the executive version, and the ultra-executive version.
If you’re creating a UI design in Sketch, chances are you have a pretty huge file on your hands. A lot of designs, assets, symbols and styles spread across tens or hundreds of artboards. And it’s all a work in progress, evolving on a daily basis, with every little change influencing all the other parts as you go along. And the last thing you want is to spend your time exporting artboards and endlessly updating links in a parallel Keynote, Powerpoint or InDesign presentation.
But you have to quench that organizational thirst for an always-up-to-date Slide Deck in ten different variants. So what do you do? Create a combined UI design and Slide Deck Sketch file!
This is a setup I like to use. I position all my UI artboards horizontally on an infinite canvas from left to right. Then I create 16:9 Slide Deck artboards below the UI designs. Now I can move my UI artboards into my Slide Deck artboards without ever duplicating or flattening anything. Then I select my Slide Deck artboards and make them exportable.
This is where the magic happens — any artboards residing inside other artboards are automatially included in the export of the outer artboard. So, depending on what kind of slide deck I need at any given time, I keep my UI artboards somewhere nearby their relevant Slide Deck counterparts.
When your slides are ready, there are several ways to turn them into a presentable and sendable PDF slide deck. A quick way is to export the slides as separate PDF files, open one of them in Adobe Acrobat, and use “Combine Files” to add the rest and save them as one PDF.
To avoid rearranging every slide when combining the separate PDF files, keep the order of your Sketch artboards in the Layer list in mind while working. If your document has gotten out of hand layer-wise, there are a few plugins to help you quickly sort layers and artboards.
Maintaining a Slide Deck within your Sketch file may not be the ultimate way of building a presentation, but in some settings it can save a lot of time. You won’t have to keep track of several versions of exported artboards, and you won’t have to work with several documents across several applications such as Keynote, Powerpoint, Indesign, etc. This comes in handy if you ever have to iterate on a UI design on a daily or weekly basis, and at the same time stay ready to present your progress on short notice. That tends to happen in bigger organizations. And when it happens you’ll be happy that your Sketch file is all set up and ready for quickly exporting an awesome Slide Deck.