Sketch : Review / by Goondaba

I've been messing around with Inkscape lately, just for fun.  But what's not fun is seeing your Core i7 iMac struggling to redraw your document while zooming in.  You see, Inkscape isn't multi-threaded. So, during intensive tasks I'll just see a single core at 100% while the other 7 are just chilling, presumably talking smack about integers.

Thus began my search for a cheap, Mac-native vector drawing application.  And after a grueling 10 minute search of the internets, I decided to try out Sketch.

Initial Impressions


Sketch touts "Infinite Size" documents as one of its features.  When you open Sketch, you have an infinite sized canvas on which to do your vector drawing thing.  When you've achieved something worth exporting, you make a "slice" or selection of your canvas to export. That's nifty.

I was using a mouse when I started up Sketch, and was going nuts trying to find a way to scroll around the canvas.  I went into the toolbar configuration, and found that there was indeed a hand tool; it just wasn't in the default toolbar. "Why is that?", I wondered. But switching to the Magic Trackpad, I was easily able to scroll and zoom my way around using the two-finger scroll and pinch.  It seems Sketch was made for use with the trackpad, so that's something to keep in mind.

Sketch has a stroke width tool that's easy to use, and the transforms (stretch, scale, skew) are easy to apply. But that's where the ease stops.


I spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to select a vector I'd already drawn. Not modifying it; just selecting it. You see, Sketch doesn't have a mouse tool. Whenever I tried to select a vector, I'd find myself applying the effect of whatever tool I had selected. It wasn't until I realized I had to deselect my current tool, that I could select elements. That was annoying.

Also, Sketch seems very green; it feels buggy in places.  Selecting layers and then deleting them doesn't always work on the first try.  Additionally, a reference layer I had put in the document and hid, wouldn't then un-hide. Useful.

Which brings me to the layers.  Sketch definitely supports layers, but that isn't apparent when you open up the application.  You have to enable layers in the View menu.  And once you have your list of layers, you might be inclined to order them… Well, good luck with that.

For whatever reason, Sketch has decided to make the process of ordering layers as maddening as possible.  You might assume that sending a layer backwards, would change the relative order of the selected layer. Guess again! Rather, in order to send a layer backwards, you must first click the behind tool, then click on the layer you want your selected layer to go behind. Get it? It's so intuitive!

Sketch also includes a set of distortions:

These distortions are easy enough to use, but they aren't very precise. Thus, I don't really find them that useful. But you know what are useful? Bezier handles.

In working with already made vectors, I found it difficult to grab the Bezier handles; sometimes they were easily visible, other times they weren't.

Bottom Line

Sketch seems very promising, and I look forward to updates and seeing where it goes.  But for right now, I'll put up with the sluggishness and stick with Inkscape. 

Sketch is made by Bohemian Coding, and is available on the Mac App Store for USD 39.99.