Skip Navigation
Learn design

Getting to know the Sketch Interface

The more you know your way around, the smoother your workflow will be

The first step to creating amazing things in Sketch is to get comfortable with the interface. So today, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know, including some tips to set yourself up for success. By the end of the article, you’ll feel like a pro.

Let’s get started.

The 5 main parts of the Sketch Interface

An annotated screenshot showing the five main parts of the Sketch Interface.

The Sketch Interface consists of five main parts: the Toolbar, the Layer List, the Inspector, the Canvas, and the Components View.

Let’s break the interface down into five parts:

  1. The Toolbar
  2. The Layer List
  3. The Inspector
  4. The Canvas
  5. The Components view

We’re about to cover each part in more detail. But if you prefer, you can also watch a video by our very own Joseph Todaro below.

The Toolbar

Just like a painter needs a good set of brushes, a digital designer needs a good set of tools. That’s where the toolbar comes in. Located along the top of your Sketch window, it’s packed with powerful design tools to help you create your best work.

Insert Insert, for example, is one you’ll likely use often. Clicking it launches a drop-down menu filled with various everyday functions, like the Vector tool, Pencil tool, Shapes, and Artboards.

Tip: To get more familiar with each toolbar item, control-click anywhere on the toolbar and choose Icon & Text. This will display the name of each item below it.

Think you’ll use some tools more than others? Make your life easier by customizing the toolbar to your needs. Just control-click anywhere on the toolbar and choose Customize Toolbar… to pull up our full library of tools. Drag and drop any items you want onto your toolbar and hit Done.

The Layer List

The Layer List lives on the left side of the interface. At the top, you’ll see all the Pages within your document, each with its own Canvas. But we’ll talk more about that in a moment.

The bottom half of the Layer List is where you’ll find your Artboards and all of the layers within them. You can rename both your Artboards and layers to make them easier to navigate. You’ll find new or duplicate Artboards here too. From there, you can also drag your layers to reorder how they appear on the Canvas.

The Search bar at the top of the list comes in handy if you have tons of layers and want to find them by name. You can also use the magnifying glass to filter for a layer by its type, like Text, Shape, Groups, or Symbols.

Tip: Make sure to name your layers as you create them. You’ll have an easier time finding them later!

Create as many Pages as you want within your document. You can always collapse your list of Pages to hide them.

The Components View

Above the Layer List, you’ll see two buttons: one for the Canvas view Canvas, and another for the Components View Components View Tab. The latter is where you’ll find all the Symbols, Text Styles, Layer Styles, and Color Variables in your document.

The Inspector

The Inspector is located on the right side of the interface. As its name suggests, it’s there to help you take a closer look at your design. Each time you select a layer, the Inspector will display all of the relevant properties of that layer, like colors or dimensions.

Clicking on a text layer, for example, will prompt the Inspector to show properties like typefaces and font sizes. Similarly, selecting a shape will bring up properties like opacity and style. In other words, the Inspector will adapt to your needs no matter what you’re designing.

The Canvas

The Canvas is where the magic happens. As you can tell, it takes up the entire middle part of your interface, giving you plenty of space to add multiple Artboards and layers. The Canvas also gives you an infinite amount of space. So feel free to scroll as far up or down — or zoom as far in or out — as you need. There’s no need to worry about running out of room.

Set your document up for success

Now that you know your way around the interface, here are some handy tips to help you make the most of your document setup.

Create as many Pages as you need

We’ve mentioned that each Page has a Canvas with an unlimited amount of space. But did you know you can have as many Pages as you want within a single document?

To create a new Page, head to the top of your Layer List, click the plus sign, and rename it. Got too many Pages? Click on the arrow to the right of the plus sign to collapse or expand your list.

Use Artboards

While you don’t need an Artboard to start designing in the Canvas, it can make your workflow much smoother. Artboards provide a fixed frame for you to design in. And you can create Artboards in any dimensions you need. By pressing A, you can either draw your Artboard manually or select one from the preset list. The latter is especially useful if you’re designing for a specific screen size, like an iOS or Android device.

Alternatively, you can also create your own Artboard Templates for your document, including elements like Symbols, shapes and text. This will save you time if you’d like to re-use your Artboard in the future.

By pressing A, you can either manually draw an Artboard or select one from the preset list.

Remember, the best way to get to know the interface is to dive in and try different features out. So don’t be afraid to experiment and take control of your experience! We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

You may also like

Try Sketch for free

Whether you’re new to Sketch, or back to see what’s new, we’ll have you set up and ready to do your best work in minutes.

Get started for free
Get started for free