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Sketch Tutorials

When nested symbols came out for the first time way back in Sketch version-whatever-it-was, it was kind of a big deal. At least I thought so:

This is, without a doubt, the coolest Sketch technique you’ll see all day.

At the time, a couple designers were figuring out ways to really stretch Sketch to its absolute limits. We wanted it to work for us, not against us.

So with nested symbols in our toolboxes, we set out creating hundreds of symbols out of things like colors, border, and text styles, and masking just about everything so we could quickly toggle between various styles in things like our fancy new button symbols.

Clever? Sure.

Suuuuper hacky? Well…I mean yeah…


Style Overrides

Sketch is changing the way overrides work. Well, not changing…but adding a new way to apply overrides to symbols.

Instead of just overriding nested symbols (like an icon inside of a button), now you’ll be able to override the TEXT STYLE and COLOR. There is a god.


There’s a catch.

You must use text styles and layer styles when you build your symbols.

Let me say that bigger.

You MUST use text styles and layer styles.

That’s the only way Sketch allows you to override the text and color attributes within a symbol.

This may still seem really inconvenient:

“Great, now I have to make a whole bunch of styles. Why can’t I just update the font/color attributes on the fly, however I want?”

Fair question. Other design apps have this kind of flexibility.

Frankly, I don’t like this freedom. It makes it really easy to get inconsistencies in your app when you can update text/colors all willy-nilly without sticking to some guidelines. It’s very dangerous.

I’ve always been a little curious as to why more people don’t use text styles and layer styles. If you ask me, it’s absolute best practice and you’re missing out on being a much more efficient and consistent designer.

However you feel, this is still a dramatic improvement.

Why It’s Better

  • It completely eliminates the need to create color symbols and text symbols
  • It dramatically reduces file size.
  • It minimizes room for error.

I’m not gonna say “I called it” but check out #4 one of my articles from last May 2017.

5 Little Feature Requests from a Sketch Power User

Screenshot for you lazy people.

How it Works

I’ve been using the private beta for a while now and it’s like using a completely new product. I love it.

The best way to show off style overrides is by showing you a before and after of two common elements: icons and buttons.

Here’s how build icons using the old color masking technique:

BEFORE: This icon symbol uses a color symbol mask for overrides.

Here’s how you make them in the Sketch 52:

AFTER: This icon symbol just has a layer style applied to it.

Because I applied a layer style to the volume icon symbol, Sketch 52 will allow me to override that style with any other saved layer style I’ve created.

Check this out:

Let me remind you: Those are NOT color symbols. Those are saved layer styles. I have a giant stylesheet that I use to manage layer styles and text styles throughout my file, so there are literally thousands to choose from:

This is available for download at the bottom of this article!

If you’ve made a saved style, you can use it as an override. It’s really that easy.

Let’s take a look at an old button symbol that uses the color masking technique and the text symbol technique:

Looks simple enough, but both of those layers are nested symbols, and I had to create a text symbol for every damn color I thought I might want to use in a button:

This is cool, but REALLY SUPER ANNOYING.

Don’t get me wrong, all of this work still made working in Sketch faster for me than making new button symbols for every single variation I might want. I was also one of the earlier pioneers of this technique, so I’m not gonna talk too negatively about it

Anyway, here’s what my button symbol looks like in Sketch 52:

That “Shape” layer is a nested symbol too, but it’s just a rectangle with some rounded corners. Nothing special:

Since my button symbol has a text style for the button text and a layer style for the container color, I can do style overrides just like I did in my icon symbol:

How amazing is that?!

I’ll answer that for you. It’s VERY amazing.

Soooooo when can I get it?

The public beta of Sketch 52 is available NOW to start playing with:


I STRONGLY recommend you start a project from scratch in this new version. It’s completely new, and it’s best you explore in a clean file.

Don’t wanna create all of those text/layer styles yourself?

We are actively working on an entirely new version of UX Power Tools that we built from the ground up so that it utilizes all of the new features coming in Sketch 52. You’re gonna lose your minds.

Here’s where we are right now. It’s amazing:

Get Instant Access Now

As you’re reading this, we are actively designing the new UX Power Tools, but we wanted you to have something to play with as soon as possible so you get a feel for these amazing new Sketch 52 updates.

If you buy now, you’ll get access to:

  • Style Guide
  • Components Sheet
  • Symbols

Updates coming soon (which you’ll get for free by subscribing):

  • More Symbols
  • More Components
  • Sample Pages
  • Charts & Graphs
  • Getting Started Guide
  • Tutorials!

We’re basically releasing the product now so that you early adopters can play with it, test it, and help us decide what else we should build into the system. Don’t be shy about feedback! We are real product designers using this on real client projects, so are completely bought in to making this the greatest Sketch resource possible.

Buy it now to subscribe to updates:

When I’m not building design systems, I’m the lead designer at Innovatemap.

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The Sketch Update We’ve All Been Waiting For, plus a BRAND NEW UX Power Tools! was originally published in UX Power Tools on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.