Sketch vs. Photoshop: The 5 things Sketch can do that Photoshop can’t

4 min read
Joseph Angelo Todaro
  •  Jun 28, 2017
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Even if you haven’t made the switch yet, you’re likely aware of the mass exodus of Photoshop users switching to Sketch. So what makes Sketch the tool for designing digital products? To put it simply, Sketch can do a number of things that Photoshop can’t.Twitter Logo And it makes sense—Photoshop wasn’t built for product design.

So let’s put ’em head-to-head, Sketch vs. Photoshop. Here are our top 5 indispensable Sketch capabilities that are currently missing from Photoshop.

For those who prefer reading to watching, get the step by step below.

1. Sketch vs. Photoshop: Shared styles

Layer styles in Photoshop are a great way to save time when you plan on applying the same style to a bunch of layers. The problem is that layers do not become connected to the style or to one another, in the case the style changes in the future.

Have 125 layers with the same fill and drop shadow? Tweaked the style 3 times? Then in Photoshop, you’re looking at applying the style 375 times.

Yes, I’m crying too.

Enter shared styles in Sketch. Much like a paragraph style, shared styles in Sketch save the stylistic attributes of a layer and keep every layer connected to the style in case it changes. If you decide at any point to change the style of a layer, one click will instantly sync the style to every layer sharing it. Try living without this one.

2. Sketch vs. Photoshop: Prototyping directly on the canvas

So you’ve got your beautiful screens designed in Sketch and you’re ready to throw together an initial prototype. In the past, we would sync to InVision from either Sketch or Photoshop, open our browser, and head to build mode.

Using Craft, we can now prototype for desktop and mobile directly within Sketch and sync the finished result to InVision to test, share, and collaborate. It’s just a matter of downloading and installing Craft, selecting a layer, pressing the C key, and clicking the artboard to link to. Then it’s one click to sync to InVision and create your fully interactive prototype.

Related: Prototyping in Sketch is here—powered by InVision

3. Sketch vs. Photoshop: Swapping symbols

On the surface, symbols in Sketch appear to work similarly to smart objects in Photoshop. They do serve a nearly identical purpose: Use multiple instances of the same graphic that sync with a “master. ” When designing digital products, we end up with a lot of little icons and graphics that get reused on a ton of screens, making symbols or smart objects a must.

Where Sketch really pulls ahead is when you need to switch out one icon for another, like a normal icon state and an active icon state for example. In Sketch, you can select any instance of a symbol and swap it out for another on the Inspector. When you start nesting symbols within other symbols, things start to get interesting.

4. Sketch vs. Photoshop: Overrides

Smart objects in Photoshop are a double-edged sword. The good news is that every instance of a smart object is the same. The bad news is that every instance of a smart object is the same.

So what do we do when we have multiple instances of a symbol that each need unique content?

In Sketch, every text layer, symbol, and image within a symbol is considered a variable that can be “overridden” on the Inspector. This means we can design one button, use it as many times as we want, and always be in control of the content for each individual instance.

Related: Sketch tutorial—How to override colors

This functionality happens to pair nicely with another feature…

5. Sketch vs. Photoshop: Group resizing

Photoshop allows you to resize groups and smart objects, but with only one “physical” mechanic: stretching the contents together. This creates distorted layouts and necessitates going back and forth wrestling with the position and scale of individual layers.

In Sketch, the contents of a group or symbol can be assigned to behave more “responsively” by preserving margins or fixing dimensions in place. When combined with symbol overrides, this adds a staggering amount of flexibility to a symbol.

More posts on Sketch:
What’s new with group resizing in Sketch 44
30 free Sketch plugins to grab right now

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