Should You Switch to Sketch?

For years, Adobe has dominated the world of creative software, with Photoshop and Illustrator being the lead software applications for photo editing and graphic design. Even though other programs were available, none of them were able to match the amount of features found in the Adobe suite of tools. However, seven years ago things began the change when Sketch entered the market and established itself as a viable alternative to the famous Adobe Illustrator.

Since its launch, the app has been adopted by design professionals at Apple, Facebook, and Google, and has become a topic of a heated debate among web and UI designers: Photoshop/Illustrator or Sketch?

If you’ve been debating the switch yourself, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll share ten things you need to know about Sketch before making the switch from Adobe applications.

1. Less Expensive

You can purchase Sketch for $99 dollars which will get you a one year license. This means that for the duration of the year, you will receive regular updates for Sketch. Once your license expires, you can renew it if you want to continue receiving updates. If you don’t want to renew, Sketch will still continue to work. Compared to Adobe’s subscription model which ranges from $19.99 for a single app to $49.99 for all apps on a monthly basis, Sketch is significantly cheaper, which may be a deciding factor for some.

2. Vector Based

Like Illustrator, Sketch is vector-based. That makes it a perfect tool for digital illustrations and user interface design. In fact, the developers market it as “made for mobile/web/product designers like you.” It uses Shapes, where each shape is a separate layer. You can combine them into more complex shapes while each individual shape still remains completely editable. On top of that, Sketch’s  Union button for merging shapes closely mirrors Illustrator’s Pathfinder tool which makes it easier to design realistic icons and various UI elements.

3. Better Exports

Sketch comes with built-in tools that automate file export and allow you to drag any element from Sketch directly to a folder, browser, or your desktop. You can export files as SVG, PDF, and EPS, as well as JPG, PNG, TIFF, and WebP.  When it comes to importing files, Sketch supports PNG, JPG, TIFF, and WebP file formats. It can also open the SVG, PDF, and EPS vector formats. Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop files can only be opened as a single flattened layer which means you won’t be able to collaborate with someone who works with Adobe’s applications.

4. No Photo Editing Features

Given that it’s a vector-based program, Sketch cannot compete with photo-editing software that works with raster graphics. In this case, Photoshop still reigns supreme since you won’t find tools that serve simple purposes like reducing red eye, duplicating & patching certain areas, blending colors/textures, and exporting photos as optimized images.

5. Not As Many Learning Resources

Nowadays, you can find a tutorial for almost anything online. Considering the popularity of Sketch, you can find decent tutorials for the app, however, the  available tutorials cannot compete with the sheer amount of Photoshop and Illustrator tutorials. If you’re completely new to the software, this may be a drawback.

6. Simpler and Easier UI

Directly tied to the point above is the fact that the user interface in Sketch is a lot simpler than that of Adobe programs. Getting used to a new program is definitely a lot easier when you don’t have hundreds of different options and tools to go through to find the one you need.

7. Familiar Terminology

If you’ve been using Illustrator for a while and are thinking about moving to Sketch, you’ll be pleased to know that Illustrator and Sketch share a lot of terms, like “layers” and “paths.” Some of the terms are undoubtedly different but they are still easy to understand; for example what Illustrator refers to as boards are called pages in Sketch. In that aspect, migrating from one program to another will be easy.

8. Not Suited for Digital Painting

While the color tool in Sketch is more intuitive to use than in Adobe’s programs, Sketch is not suited for digital painting. Unlike Photoshop, Sketch doesn’t have the pixel-based brush tool that allows for custom settings for pressure sensitivity and compatibility with a wide array of drawing tablets.

9. Custom Text Styles

One of the things Sketch has going for it are the text styles. If you’re working with a document that has a lot of text layers, you can quickly define a Text Style to apply to these layers. This allows you to update the text style and see the changes reflect across your entire document. You can also convert any text to outlines and modify each letter as an individual shape.

10. Mac Only

Unfortunately, Sketch is available for Mac only. If you’re a Windows person, you will have to find an alternative for Illustrator and Photoshop, or continue using them.

Should You Switch to Sketch?

Considering all the hype Sketch has received and its quick rise to fame, you may be wondering if it’s time to say goodbye to Adobe’s Creative Cloud.  If you’re a veteran user of Adobe and rely heavily on the integration between Adobe’s programs, switching to Sketch may not be a good idea. Similarly, if you’re primarily working with others who use Adobe’s programs, dropping them in favor of Sketch may not be a wise move.

If, on the other hand, you’re new to design and your primary focus is UI and icon design, Sketch is a worthwhile and capable option to consider.  Keep in mind that both Sketch and Adobe programs come with free trials as well as free video tutorials. so now would be a perfect time to experiment with both and see which one fits your workflow best.

Brenda Barron is a writer from southern California specializing in business and technology. Read more about what she’s up to on her site Digital Inkwell. More articles by Brenda Stokes Barron
  • bettywacka

    Interesting article, in regards to point 3 I disagree somewhat as you can open and export really easily with Adobe’s latest update.

    Whilst I’ve used both I must admit personally I find the UI on Illustrator and now XD much easier and more simplistic than Sketch and Flinto

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