Two computers and a laptop displaying app tutorials for graphic design.

A Guide to Sketch: Top Use Cases and Pro Tips

Sketch is a design and prototyping app that has become a top alternative to Photoshop. Sketch is widely used in the web and graphic design industries. Learning how to use Sketch will help you add value to your resume, regardless of whether you have a background in design or not. This article will act as your guide to Sketch, providing you with Sketch tips and tricks that will help you get started. 

What Is Sketch?

Sketch is a vector-based application that allows you to create prototypes, icons, and all types of web and graphic designs, with the exception of 3D models. This app was designed for Mac users, functioning as a lightweight version of Photoshop for iOS. This platform only takes up 45 MB of disk space compared to Photoshop’s 2.17 GB.  However, being lightweight does not mean that it is not as efficient.

Why Do You Need Sketch?

You need Sketch to create your graphic and web designs. This app is mostly used for developing and enhancing UI and UX designs. You can also develop prototypes, icons, and logos, by using Sketch. Designers also use Sketch for mobile app development and mockups. Once the design is ready, web or software developers can use these files to build a website or application. 

Sketch Use Cases:

  • UI design: Sketch is applied in the early stages of user interface design. It’ll allow developers to visualize what the interface will look like. You can create wireframes and mockups by using Sketch. 
  • Graphic design: Since Sketch is a vector-based software, it is ideal for graphic design. You can create logos, flyers, icons, and all types of graphic designs with Sketch.
  • Mobile design: You can develop an engaging mobile app using Sketch. Through Sketch you can create graphic illustrations, mockups, and typography. 
  • Web design: Sketch has helpful artboards that work as a canvas for your site. The best thing about this is that you can create your entire website with this tool, and the speed at which your computer runs will not be affected. 
  • Prototyping: Sketch allows you to create, preview, and share prototypes of your design ideas with your colleagues.

Key Terms You Need to Know to Use Sketch

Sketch Workspace

The Sketch workplace is a design space where you build design systems and prototypes and share them with other members of your organization or team so they can preview or edit them. It was called Sketch for Teams in the past, but there was a terminology update in 2021.

The Cloud

You can use the Sketch Cloud to store your projects or share your design process with others. This feature allows other team members to provide feedback and comments on your project. 


Proximity is a key principle in both graphic and UI/UX design. The design proximity indicates a correlation between elements. Designers can leverage proximity to improve user experience as they can easily scan through the website and digest information quickly. One of the best things about Sketch is that it allows you to distribute elements efficiently. 


Similarity is another key term you should know when creating UX and UI designs in Sketch. The similarity principle means that elements with the same size, form, or color palettes are connected with each other. So, users identify them as a group or pattern. You are provided with multiple similitude techniques through this tool, so you can design and modify matching elements easily.


This term in UX/UI design refers to the process of grouping elements into lines or circles to guide users to a desired visual path. This way, users will jump from one element to another as if they were connected. This feature helps create a user journey map. Sketch includes a “make a grip” option from the “Arrange” menu, which allows you to build a grid that contains specific elements. 

Equipment You’ll Need for Sketch

  • Mac computer: Sketch is only available for Mac at the moment, so you’ll need to have a Mac device, whether it is a laptop or a PC. However, you should know that Sketch requires a macOS Catalina (10.15.0) or a newer macOS version.
  • Internet connection: Sketch allows you to work online and offline, but some features are only available with an Internet connection. Having online access is essential as you will need to install the program and any updates that may be required in the future.

How to Set Up and Start Using Sketch

Step 1: Install the App

Before you start, you should download the app from the Sketch website. You can begin with a free trial and buy the subscription later if you like the tool. You will need a Catalina (10.15.0) macOS version or another recent update. 

Step 2: Start a New Project

Now, it is time to start your project. First, you can play around with the program’s features and create a rough drawing for practice. Do this before you start working on a real project.

Step 3: Use Artboards to Create Your Designs

Once you open a new project, you will see a large blank space called an artboard. This is literally a canvas that you can use to design your website or app. This canvas provides you with a holistic view of your design ideas.

Step 4: Change the Device Perspective

Another fantastic feature of Sketch is the ability to switch between iPhone, desktop, and Notebook perspectives. This will allow you to see how your designs look on different devices to improve the user experience. 

Step 5: Select Grids/Layouts 

The next step would be to select a grid. Think of grids as the skeletons of your project. They give you more consistency, rationality, and clarity when it comes to the elements you’ll use. 

Step 6: Include Images, Fonts, and Icons

It is time to play around with your elements and designs. You can upload images, fonts, design icons, and symbols to make your design come alive. 

Step 7: Export Your Design

Once you have used Sketch’s powerful design tools to create your project and you are happy with your design, you can export it into multiple formats. These formats include TIFF, PNG, WebP, and JPG. You should click on “share” and then “export.”

The Importance of Sketch for Business

Sketch is an innovative and efficient program that streamlines the design process by implementing multiple handy features. Businesses can benefit from this app because it optimizes the design cycle and encourages designers to be more creative. 

Top Sketch Tips: Use Sketch Like a Pro

  • Share your designs with your team: The designs you create on Sketch can be shared with other coworkers by creating Sketch libraries. You will have to create the Sketch Symbol in separate Sketch files and share them with your team. Through this collaborative design process, everyone can update the project. 
  • Divide your projects by page: Organizing your artboard by pages makes it much easier for software or web developers to understand your project. Sometimes it can feel like you have unlimited possibilities with the canvas you’re using, which is true. However, you can end up with messy ideas. Sketch also allows you to create alternative designs. 
  • Organize your image exports into folders: You can organize your images in Sketch by renaming the layers using this format: “subfolder/asset.png.” This will help developers find information quicker without sorting through multiple exported image assets. 
  • Customize your toolbar: When you start watching Sketch tutorials, you’ll notice that your toolbar is different from the one in each tutorial. This is because you have the preset toolbar. You can customize it however you want with the “customize toolbar” feature.
  • Create your Sketch shortcuts: You can automate processes in Sketch by creating your own shortcut menu. This will save you time and help you be more productive. This can be done using the “App Shortcut” option in the macOS preferences and defining the shortcut function.

Sketch for Different Professions

Profession Applications
Graphic designer Create logos, fonts, illustrations, and flyers
Web designer Design layouts, fonts, items, and icons
UX/UI designer Create user journey maps, develop designs that help users understand the platform, create correlations between items
Web developer Design a website’s graphics such as mockups, prototyping
Software developer Design icons, symbols, and other UX-focused items

Should You Use Sketch?

Yes, you should use Sketch if you’re passionate about art and creative ideas. This tool can help you bootstrap your designing skills and is beginner-friendly. Keep in mind that the app is only available for Mac users. However, there’s a browser version available for Windows/Linux users, although it doesn’t have as many features as the desktop app. 

How to Use Sketch FAQ

Is Sketch free?

No, Sketch is not free. You have to pay for a subscription to use this tool. Previous versions of the app included a lifetime license, but this is no longer available. When your subscription expires, you can still use the app, but you will not be able to have access to additional updates. 

Is Sketch hard to learn?

No, Sketch is not hard to learn. It is actually considered a beginner-friendly design platform compared to alternatives like Photoshop or Illustrator. If you become a UI/UX designer and start utilizing various design tools, Sketch will be one of the best software to start with.

Is Sketch better than Photoshop?

No, not necessarily. Sketch and Photoshop are both great tools. If you learn Photoshop or already know how to use this tool, you will see that it has more advanced features than Sketch, making it ideal for professional use. With Photoshop’s complexity comes difficulty in learning it, which is why some artists prefer Sketch. 

Can you use Sketch to make 3D designs? 

No, you can’t use Sketch to make 3D designs, at the moment. Sketch is not a 3D design platform, so it does not include any 3D model components. It is limited to 2D designs and illustrations.

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