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A woman holds up an art print commissioned by Sketch inside a printing studio

From Sketch to Screen — how Blake Stevenson created our Ambassador art print

Go behind the scenes and see how Blake illustrated and produced our beautiful Ambassadors’ posters — all in Sketch

If you’re familiar with Sketch you probably know it as an industry standard platform for web and product design. But its power and versatility make it the perfect tool for almost any project. From floor plans and technical drawings, to game design and illustration, it can do a whole lot more than UI and UX design. With a powerful vector editor at its core, and over a million designers using Sketch to create their best work, we’re forever inspired by the different uses they find for it.

With this in mind, we wanted to create something that would showcase Sketch’s flexibility. The end result would also be a gift for our Ambassadors to thank them for running events, organizing workshops and putting on meetups around the world where creators can gather and learn.

To help us out, we commissioned Blake Stevenson — a UI/UX designer by day and a revered illustrator by night, creating incredible illustrations under his Jetpacks & Rollerskates moniker. Blake uses Sketch at his day job, but he’d never used it for illustration work before. We challenged him to see if it was flexible enough to illustrate in, too.

A screenshot of an Instagram grid of photos showing the work of Jetpacks and Rollerskates

Some of Blake’s work on Instagram

The brief was simple — create an eye-catching design in Blake’s signature illustration style that we could print and give away in poster form. The challenge was that everything had to be done in Sketch, right through to the color separations that Mama’s Sauce — who created the prints for us — needed to do the final, three-color screen print.

Blake started out by defining his limitations. He had to create everything in Sketch, without relying on other tools, and because Sketch doesn’t support brushes or textures, he decided to rule out any organic shapes. He already had an idea of where things might get tricky from his UI/UX work, but illustrating in Sketch meant thinking differently.

A photo showing an open notebook with notes about the poster brief

Blake’s original notes based on the brief

With a long history of working in tools like Adobe Illustrator, Blake initially expected Sketch’s Vector Editor to work like the pen tool he was used to, but Sketch is different — and for good reason. So Blake adapted and began to think of it more like “draw mode”, creating the initial shapes with a view to tweaking them more precisely later. Luckily, there wasn’t too much tweaking to do, as Sketch’s automatic rounding took on a lot of the work of smoothing things out.

Even with Blake’s loose and whimsical style, he found Sketch’s snapping really helpful when it came to keeping things tight with composition and structure. And with constraints like stroke widths always staying consistent, it was easy to go back and edit existing work.

Blake captured his entire process in this time lapse video

Another challenge for Blake was working with Boolean Operations. For small icons, Sketch’s math and nested Boolean Operations make sense. But Blake found applying Boolean Ops to more complex shapes less helpful. [Editor’s note: Since this project, we’ve refactored our Boolean Operations to improve their behaviour and make them a lot more predictable.]

If you’re talking about straight up vector illustration, you can do anything in Sketch that you can do in Illustrator.

Despite a few small challenges, Blake found the experience of illustrating purely in Sketch a positive one. Previously, he’d only recommend Sketch to web designers, but now he says: “If you’re talking about straight up vector illustration in Sketch you can do anything in Sketch that you can do in Illustrator.”

Overall, Blake describes Sketch as the, “foundational tool for everything”, down to its speed and ease of use when it comes lay things out and get an initial structure for a piece of work down.

The finished print speaks for itself, marrying Blake’s love for design and Sketch with his love for illustration. The final three-color screen print by Mama’s Sauce compliments Blake’s eye-catching style with custom match purple and orange colours on a bright Colorplan Factory yellow paper stock. We can’t wait to get it in our ambassadors’ hands.

You can check out some process shots of the screen printing process below. We produced a limited run of these posters that we’ll be sending out to Sketch Ambassadors throughout the year, as a reward for their achievements. If you’re interesting in getting your hands on one, and want to help grow a community of thousands of designers around the world, you can find out more and apply to be a Sketch Ambassador on our website.

Photo by Mama’s Sauce

Photo by Mama’s Sauce

Photo by Mama’s Sauce

Photo by Mama’s Sauce

Photo by Mama’s Sauce

Photo by Mama’s Sauce

Photo by Mama’s Sauce

Photo by Mama’s Sauce

Photo by Mama’s Sauce

Now you’ve seen what Sketch can do, why not try it for your next project. Whether you’re a total beginner or a seasoned pro, Sketch has everything you need to get started. Whatever you’re making, make it with Sketch.

P.S. This print was a limited run, but we have one to give away! To enter for your chance to win, simply send us a Tweet with something you’ve made in Sketch, along with #madewithsketch, by 14 November. We’ll draw one lucky winner on 15 November. 😎

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