5 Steps to easily create symbols in Sketch

Afonso Vitória


Sketch symbol creation
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Sketch is a great tool for UX/UI designers to easily create symbols. On one hand, symbols can speed up your workflow! They give you a way to save and reuse common elements across your interface designs. On the other hand, symbols are an essential part of the user experience. They visually express objects, actions, and ideas, as well as enhance the aesthetic appeal of an interface.
As a designer, I know exactly how much effort and time we need to put on to create a simple and expressive symbol, helpful for the user. When I found out that I could create symbols in an easy way in Sketch I couldn't help sharing with you! And to exemplify it, let’s start by button symbols.

How to create a Button Symbol in Sketch

A button design conception is a crucial one to have in your toolkit. You need to ensure that your button is recognizable and user-friendly. That’s why a button can be a good example to understand the process of creating symbols with the elements color, text, and icon. And Sketch can help you with it!

Step 1: Create Color Symbols in Sketch

First, you start by creating a square with 100px by 100px without border and choose a color fill you like. After that, click on the Create Symbol rectangle in the top bar, and name it “Color/Blue” to create your first symbol. Double click in your Color Symbol and jump to Symbols Menu.
Now you can create more color symbols in Sketch by duplicating this one. Name the second one “Color/Green”.

Step 2: Connect the Color Symbols with the Button in Sketch

We can start to create our button shape with 200px by 44px, then go to Insert > Documents and choose the Blue color symbol you create in step 1. Make some adjustments so the symbol will have the same size as the button shape. After that select both, the shape and the color symbol and press the Mask rectangle in the top bar menu. As you can see, the color symbol is no longer a rectangle, and have the shape of our button background.

This is the best way to connect the color with a component in Sketch. So in the future, if you need to change your theme color you just have to change the color symbol and it will change in every component that it’s connecting with.

Step 3: Create a Text Symbols in Sketch

The process to create a text symbol in Sketch is similar to step 1. Start to write “Download” in white inside the shape. Click on Create Symbol rectangle and name it “Text/Button”. After that pressed to go on the symbol menu, and as you can see you have your text button symbol created.

Step 4: Create Icon Symbols in Sketch

Now that we have the button almost done, let’s add an icon. The process of creating an icon symbol in Sketch is alike to the previous steps.
Add an icon into the button shape, change the color to white and center it with the text. After that click on Create Symbol and name it “Icons/20px/Download”. Go to the symbols menu and make sure the artboard of the symbol have 20px by 20px. And you get your icon!

Remember! If you want to use other icons in this Sketch component, don’t forget that the artboard of the symbol must have the same size.

So let’s duplicate this icon symbol, change the name to “Icons/20px/Loading” and change the icon inside to a new one.
Now as you can see, you can easily change the icon in the button, because they have the same artboard size.

Step 5: Create the Button Component Symbol in Sketch

With all the important elements in symbols, it’s time to make consistency check-up. See if your set of symbols feel related. Styling choices such as rounded corners, sizing, and other details should be, on this final step, be coherent!
Once every symbol is checked we are able to turn the button into a component symbol.
Start to select the button, click again on Create Symbol and name it “Component/Button”. After, double click on it, and as you can see, our button symbol is created.

Opcional Step: Name your Symbols with emojis in Sketch

If you want to have some fun organizing your symbols use emojis to beautify your layers.
It’s simple, you just need to press CTRL + CMD + SPACEBAR and an emoji window will popup. Then it’s up to you, use your imagination and rename each symbol with the emoji you like.

By the Way

If you need more tips about how to organize symbols in Sketch, see the article Our Symbol Guide in Sketch.


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