Getting Started with Sketch

Part 1: Artboards and Shapes

Why I'm writing this tutorial

In 2015, I was TA for a UX Design course at General Assembly in San Francisco. I scoured the internet for Sketch tutorials for absolute beginners, but couldn’t find any that covered all the basics without mentioning Photoshop. So I put on a workshop and made this tutorial for the students.

This tutorial will teach you the absolute basics of Sketch 3, whether you have background in design or not. Part 1 (what you’re reading now) focuses on artboards and basic shape creation, Part 2 covers layer and text styles, and Part 3 covers symbols and exporting. Let's get started!

Creating Artboards

First, make sure you have Sketch 3 installed. Create a new document by clicking File > New. When you see the blank screen, look in the top left corner for the "Insert" menu. This menu contains all the tools you need to create new layers.

Insert new layer

Start by creating an Artboard, which is like a canvas. The size that you select determines the final dimensions of the image you export.

Artboard tool

Once you select the Artboard tool, you can either draw an artboard freehand like this:

Drawing an artboard

Or you can look at the Inspector column on the right side. As you can see, there are preset dimensions for several different device sizes. I've selected iPhone 5.

Select artboard

Note: If you need to resize an artboard, simply select its name and drag the white boxes that show up on the corners.

Sketch makes product design super simple.

What if you want to see the entire canvas? Let's try zooming out using the tool located on the top of the screen.

Zoom out

You can also do this by selecting View > Center Canvas or by using the shortcut ⌘ + 1

Fit canvas to screen

Adding shapes

Now that your artboard is fully visible, let's add a rectangle to it. Located in Insert > Shape > Rectangle.

Rectangle tool

I made a thin bar at the top of the artboard, like a navigation bar in mobile apps.

Draw rectangle

Next, locate the right side menu, officially called the "Inspector". There is a "Border" section here with a checkbox. Uncheck it to remove the default border.

Remove border

Let's also change the fill in the section right above the border. I used #104F8A. You can enter this number in the box below the eyedropper icon.

Change fill

Notice that if you click the + sign at the bottom of the fill window, you can save this color swatch for later!

Ready for more? Move on to Part 2

Thank you!

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