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Learn Sketch

A Comprehensive Guide to Start Learning Sketch

Sketch is a macOS user interface design tool that lets users build vibrant and interactive web layouts and designs for user interfaces.

Sketch is a tool for building vector graphic layouts of user experience interfaces using text, images, graphics, and a host of interactive elements. Sketch users can both create design layouts and convert those layouts into interactive prototypes ideally suited for testing and iteration. If you’ve always wanted to learn Sketch but can’t figure out how to get started, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about the various ways to learn Sketch, free resources to take advantage of, and the types of careers that commonly use Sketch.

What is Sketch?

Sketch is a design tool for creating user interface (UI) layouts for webpages and mobile applications. Sketch is a vector-graphics design program, meaning that the assets created can be modified and resized for optimal performance on screens of any size. Sketch’s significant features include its easy customization tools, digital collaboration tools, and, most importantly, Sketch symbols. Sketch symbols let users create reusable design elements that can be modified individually, allowing users to build layout assets like buttons and drop-down menus, which all look the same but function differently as the design demands. Advanced Sketch users can use the built-in tools to make even more complex, interactive symbols to optimize their workflow and the functionality of their design.

Sketch originated on the macOS app store and is only available on machines that run off macOS. Therefore, the program can be slightly limiting but is built with the specific functionalities of this operating system in mind. Sketch has features common to almost all macOS native programs, such as touch bar support, Retina and non-Retina displays, and native font rendering. These features allow macOS device users to learn Sketch more efficiently and quickly pick up advanced skills. Web designers can also create layouts designed to operate on devices like next-generation iPhones. The functionalities of Sketch designs won’t be limited to these devices, but the program gives users the tools to optimize their layouts for specific platforms.

In recent updates, Sketch has added new features to make collaboration and prototyping easier for teams of users. Sketch lets designers work together to build clickable prototypes of their webpages that designers can distribute for testing and iteration, a crucial feature of any user-interface design software. And Sketch is constantly evolving to meet the needs of its users.

Read more about what Sketch is and why you should learn it. 

What Can You Do with Sketch?

Sketch allows web designers to create layouts for webpages and mobile applications. Users can create vibrant, interactive webpage models for testing and development using text, images, graphic designs, and artboards. Because Sketch is a vector graphics illustration tool, these designs are easily reusable and scalable. They can be optimized to work on any-sized screen and used in multiple contexts in any design layout. Sketch also recently added advanced features for collaboration and prototyping, allowing team members to work together more efficiently to build model user interfaces.

Sketch’s most unique features are symbols and reusable digital interface assets that can be replicated across multiple pages. Sketch lets users define symbol characteristics to repurpose them as the design warrants. In addition, users can manually override the function of individual symbols, letting users give each asset a different interactive functionality without having to start from scratch. More advanced users can build complicated, multi-purpose symbols that make designing interfaces a breeze.

Sketch also has a robust community of designers and developers who are constantly building new adds-on and templates for Sketch. Users who learn Sketch can take advantage of these resources to make working with the program more straightforward and efficient. Since this community is so active, new resources are available daily.

Careers that Use Sketch

Sketch is used predominantly by Web Designers, Graphic Designers, and other User Experience (UX) Designers tasked with building assets for handover to Web Developers when a team is building a digital project. Sketch lets these designers build and test web applications and interfaces to ensure that their layouts and outlines meet the needs of their teams and clients.

Web Designers: Web Designers create the visual design and functional layout of a client’s webpage. They guide the creative vision of a project and use programs like Sketch to produce prototypes that will be handed over to Web Developers to code and launch. This field works primarily with the graphic design side of web design, building assets and interfaces rather than programming webpages, so Web Designers won’t need to learn how to code. Sketch designers may also be tasked with designing plug-ins, add-ons, or templates for use by other Web Designers in different projects.

User Experience (UX) Designers: UX Designers ensure that a website’s user interface provides a positive user experience and is optimized for use and accessibility. UX Designers aren’t strictly invested in specific projects but perform testing and market research to observe and analyze user behavior. They use this data to produce models or philosophies of webpage design for other Web Designers to incorporate into their work. UX Designers use programs like Sketch to build prototypes for research purposes. They may also learn fundamental data science skills to test their interfaces better.

Digital Designers: Digital Designers are professional creatives who build the elements of webpages and other digital applications. Digitals Designers primarily work with tools like Illustrator and Photoshop to build digital assets, but they may find themselves tasked with building specific, interactive webpage components. In these cases, they will use programs like Sketch to add interactivity and functionality to the assets they are building.

Why Learn Sketch?

Web Designers looking to build interactive prototypes of their layouts will need to learn a user interface (UI) tool to create their designs. Sketch is ideal for experienced designers and novices who aspire to become Web Designers. It is an accessible, customizable program that lets users build unique and functional prototypes using an array of tools. Sketch symbols enable users to create a customized collection of reusable interactive assets. And Sketch’s website boasts approximately six thousand add-ons and plug-ins for the program, with more being added daily.

Additionally, even though Sketch is among the older dedicated UI design tools on the market, it is constantly updated with new features and functionality. So, a growing number of designers are picking up Sketch, particularly now that it has more robust collaboration features. Sketch is among the more cost-effective tools relative to its market share and features list, making it ideal for small teams working on individual projects or for individual users hoping to break into the world of web design. Finally, because Sketch is native to macOS, it is an excellent skill for aspiring Web Designers who are mac users since they will have a leg up with the program’s features and tools.

Read more about why you should learn Sketch

How to Learn Sketch

Students interested in learning Sketch have several training method options available: in-person instruction, live online instruction, or self-paced learning with on-demand courses or free online resources. Find Sketch classes near you with Noble Desktop’s course search tool that can help students find the right option, regardless of their preferred methodology.

Live instruction options are available both in-person and online, enabling students to learn in their preferred environment. Expert instructors teach all courses; even in an online setting, students can interface directly with their teachers to ask questions and receive feedback. Most live instruction courses boast small class sizes, meaning that students won’t be competing for the attention of their instructors. In-person instruction can be somewhat restricted by a student’s location, so students should explore the options available in their area.

Students who need or desire more flexible learning options may wish to consider taking an on-demand asynchronous course to learn Sketch. These courses are ideal for students with family or work obligations or whose schedule prevents them from attending a regularly scheduled class. Courses are available in various formats, letting students dictate their learning pace and giving them more control over when and where they study Sketch. However, these courses may require students to troubleshoot for themselves any issues that arise.

The final option is free online tutorials and resources for learning Sketch. These courses are more limited in scope, and while they are a good introduction, they likely aren’t sufficient for students looking to use Sketch professionally. Still, they are excellent starting points for new users. The Web Design and Development playlist on Noble’s official YouTube page provides users with many free tutorials, including an in-depth look into the functional differences between Sketch and its largest competitors, Figma and Adobe XD. The Sketch website also offers a handful of free training resources.

Read the complete guide on how to learn Sketch.

Free Introductory Sketch Course Online 

Students who want to learn Sketch but are undecided about investing in an immersive training course may wish to consider exploring the free online options available. While these courses won’t replace professional skills training for those looking to build a career using Sketch, they are great for familiarizing users with the program in preparation for an in-depth training course.

Noble offers free seminars and training courses through the free seminars page on its website and the Web Design and Development playlist on its official YouTube channel. These videos guide users through the basic principles of user interface (UI) design, user experience (UX) design philosophies, and the differences between Sketch and other major UX design platforms. These tools are ideal for students just entering the world of web design as they are built to give new users necessary background training in advance of more in-depth skills instruction. Noble also provides blog posts, interviews, and other articles through the Sketch tag on its official blog.

Sketch also offers free tutorials through their website. These micro tutorials and blog posts will help users get a handle on the Sketch interface and set them on the right path as they begin designing their first UI project. These tutorials are ideal for students who aren’t familiar with navigating design interfaces or aren’t sure what kinds of projects Sketch is optimized to build.

Free course options are also available through other service providers, such as General Assembly and Udemy.

Read about more free Sketch videos and online tutorials.

Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost 

Sketch is an accessible program that is reasonably easy for new users to become familiar with and use. Sketch has a lightweight interface, and new users will find themselves able to experiment with designs almost immediately. However, many of the unique features of Sketch will require significantly more training to optimize, particularly the Sketch symbols. The program is, therefore, ideal for beginners experimenting with a user interface (UI) program and aspiring Web Designers looking to learn a program that they can use professionally.

There are no formal prerequisites to learning Sketch. However, users should be familiar with macOS and the basic philosophies of UI design if they hope to use the program professionally. Since Sketch is only available on macOS devices, users must be sure that their device is compatible. Additionally, as a UI design program, a background in user experience (UX) design is not required but is strongly encouraged.

Sketch is available for users and teams for a monthly subscription fee of $9 per editor. Yearly subscriptions are also available for $99 per person. New users can take advantage of a 30-day free trial of the program. Large organizations (those with more than twenty-five editors) can contact Sketch to get a quote on the cost of a Sketch Business subscription.

Read about how difficult it is to learn Sketch.

How Does Learning Sketch Compare to Other Applications?

One of the first issues aspiring Web Designers will face is choosing where to begin, as there is no unified industry-standard user interface (UI) design tool. Sketch is a top-three player, alongside its competitors Figma and Adobe XD, so new users should compare the functionalities of each program to learn which one is best for them. A more in-depth explanation of the differences between Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD is available through Noble Desktop.

The most significant difference between Sketch and its competitors is that Sketch is only available for macOS devices, meaning that users will only be able to learn Sketch if they have access to a Mac device. But it also means that Mac-device users may have an easier time learning and practicing Sketch because it is optimized for a system with which they are familiar.

Sketch also gives advanced users powerful tools like Sketch symbols—repurposable design assets that users can add to their UI designs. These symbols let users build assets with interactive functionality and replicate them across the layout. Specific symbols can then be re-defined individually or as a group to alter their functionality, giving users a powerful tool to optimize their designs.

Aside from being platform-locked, Sketch's major drawback is that it is the oldest of the three top programs and has less built-in functionality for collaboration and prototyping than its peers. Sketch has added collaboration and testing features, but they are not as robust as those offered by XD and Figma.

Check out Noble’s Learn Hub to learn more about Adobe XD and Figma.

How to Decide the Best Way to Learn Sketch

Many different training options are available for learning Sketch. Students can learn in-person or live online or opt for self-paced learning. They can pay for professional instruction or rely on free resources and tutorials. It’s an individual choice that depends on how much a student plans to use Sketch and how much time they have to dedicate to their training.

Sketch novices who want to learn the basics of the program but aren’t ready to pay for a training program may wish to take advantage of free resources and tutorials. Sketch and Noble offer users an overview of the program and how to use the program's basic features so that they can become comfortable using Sketch. However, these resources will necessarily be limited in scope, so students hoping to master the advanced features of Sketch will need more professional training.

Users interested in professional training to learn Sketch should consider their goals. Do they want to learn Sketch as a standalone or as part of a career-focused training course? Users who only want to learn Sketch to plug a skill gap, expand their knowledge, or add another skill to their resume may wish to consider a focused course, like Noble’s Sketch Bootcamp. In such courses, students receive hands-on Sketch training designed to teach them how to use the program in real-world professional settings.

Students looking to pivot to a new career should consider career training courses, like Noble’s UX & UI Design Certificate program. These courses will teach students how to use Sketch as part of their toolkit, but they will also teach students other programs and UX design theories and provide career mentorship advice. These are the most expensive and time-consuming courses that students can choose. They are also immersive and provide the most significant benefits for building future earning potential.

Learn Sketch with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Students looking to master Sketch may wish to consider any Sketch classes and bootcamps offered through Noble Desktop. These classes, which range from short seminars offering students a basic understanding of Sketch to in-depth career skills training courses, give students the tools they need to use Sketch in their personal and professional lives. These courses are available in person at Noble’s Manhattan campus or live online from anywhere in the United States. Courses are taught by experts with whom students can interface directly, and class sizes are kept small, even online. So, students can ask questions and receive timely, personalized feedback on their work. Plus, courses include a one-year free retake option. Students can repeat the course to review a lesson that gave them trouble, attend a seminar they missed, or just get more hands-on practice with Sketch.

Students seeking in-depth training in Sketch should consider Noble’s Sketch Bootcamp. This intensive skills training course teaches students to use the basic and advanced features of Sketch, such as its layout design tools, interactive elements, and prototyping capabilities. Students get hands-on instruction in building web layouts using text, shapes, and images, all built with Sketch’s vector graphics illustration tools. They then learn how to optimize those illustrations for web and mobile viewing, including Hi-res and Retina displays. Finally, students receive hands-on training in using Sketch symbols, including how to override symbol functions to make them work differently and how to alter their functions universally after they have been implemented.

Noble also offers Sketch training as part of its immersive, career-focused UX & UI Design Certificate program. This course is designed to help aspiring Web and user experience (UX) Designers receive comprehensive career training and mentorship. Students learn to use an array of design tools, including Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD, and receive hands-on training by working through practical exercises that reflect the work they will do professionally. Students also learn the best practices of UX design and how to best conduct user research and analysis. By the end of the course, students get the opportunity to have one-on-one career mentorship discussions with trained experts in the field of UX/UI design, and they will have built a sample design portfolio to take with them into the job market.

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