Sketch has become a popular tool for UI and web designers. But quite a few still feel more comfortable designing directly in Photoshop.

Moving to a new piece of design software demands a level of time and learning that most designers just don’t have. 

Problem is, Photoshop doesn’t prototype (or deploy quickly to the web). The answer, folks assume, is to convert Photoshop files to Sketch.

XD, a chief Sketch competitor, makes this process painless. Both XD and Photoshop are in Adobe Creative Cloud.

Sketch, though, is a bit tougher. In this post, I’ll break down how to convert .psd files to .sketch files. Then I’ll tell you why you … probably shouldn’t.

Convert Photoshop Files to Sketch

How to Convert Photoshop Files to Sketch

The most obvious Photoshop-Sketch conversion solution is as simple as it is painstaking:

You export images and text from Photoshop, then rebuild the design in Sketch.

Yes, newer versions of Photoshop automate some asset exports. But you’re still duplicating efforts. Never ideal.

Avocode offers a free solution that lets you convert Photoshop files to Sketch automatically. It couldn’t be easier (in theory):

  • Upload your PSD
  • Enter your email
  • Get a Sketch file back

You’re done! Congratulations!

But … wait.

Here’s where we started in Photoshop:

Pre-conversion Photoshop file

And here’s where we landed in Sketch:

Finished conversion in Sketch

That doesn’t look … good. 

So, what happened?

Why You Shouldn’t Convert Photoshop Files to Sketch

We’ve tried this many times with many different PSDs. And some of the conversions were pretty close! Some of the conversions came out completely empty. Some were just jumbled messes. 

Even with the “good” conversions, not all layers made it over. And the ones that did were nested several levels deep in folders. Text styles from the Photoshop file didn’t come over to Sketch. If they did, the text blocks reverted to a single typeface after editing one.

We’ve broken this down in a handy “Pros/Cons” list for automatically converting Photoshop files to Sketch:

Pros

  • Speed. The automated conversion is a surprisingly  quick process.
  • A good repository of assets. Even if the conversion isn’t up to snuff, it’s still a decent way to pull some assets into a Sketch file.

Cons

  • Not a “catch-all.” Even when conversions can get pretty close to the original PSD, there is still quite a bit of work that needs to be done to the converted file to get it right.
  • Prototyping & artboard issues. Even if you set the width of the Photoshop file to a standard Sketch artboard size (say 1440px wide), Sketch will read it as a custom size. So if the end-goal is using the comp as a starting point of a prototype, some work will need to be done. 
  • Text issues. If there is more than one typeface, weight or style in any text block, those multiple styles will not be honored in Sketch.
  • Layer issues. The conversion does its best to work with Photoshop layers, but it’s by no means perfect.

Conclusion: Photoshop -> Sketch

Your mileage may vary on how successful the conversion tool will be with individual files, but there are significant steps to get the newly converted Sketch file to match the styles and structure of the Photoshop file.

But a converted file can be a decent repository of assets for rebuilding the design in Sketch. 

For now, there is no “magic bullet” for converting Photoshop files to Sketch.

Your best bet – close your ears, Photoshop evangelists – is to start designing in the prototyping tool itself.