Sketch interview: Rafael Conde

Photo of Christian Krammer

by Christian Krammer on

In the coming weeks we will be interviewing designers from various places who employ Sketch in their daily workflow. Rafael Conde from breaks the ground.

Portrait of Rafael Conde

sketchtips: Please introduce yourself briefly and tell us how you got into design?
Rafael Conde: Hi! You guys can call me Rafa, I’m a designer and human being living in Portugal.

I went to university to study Computer Science and in my second year I had this course called Human-Computer Interaction where we discussed the fundamentals of UI and the logic behind simple things like why is this button here?. This was the spark that ignited everything. I then started to play around with UI design in my spare time, doing unsolicited redesigns of some apps that I thought needed one and sending an email to it’s creators. It was around this time that Sketch 2 just came out and I was fortunate enough to get a promo code for the app from Emanuel Sá.

During my third year in college I kept myself busy on the side by doing those redesigns and doing a couple of web development freelance jobs, and this was enough to put together a capable portfolio that wasn’t that embarrassing. So I decided to drop out from my CS degree and pursue design as a career.

It was a scary leap of faith – I googled best startups in Portugal, picked 5, knocked at their doors asking if I could help them, and got a job.

Did you ever use Adobe products? If yes, why did you switch over to Sketch? If no, what did you draw to Sketch initially?
I’ve occasionally used Photoshop before, but I never paid for a license and never used it for serious work.
I started using Sketch, with no experience in the area before that and it seemed like a simple but capable tool at the moment. It hadn’t changed since.

Nowadays I still have to install Creative Cloud to sync my TypeKit’s fonts, but that’s it.

What do you think, why do more and more people favor Sketch over Photoshop?
Photoshop is a great and powerful tool, that never changed, but Sketch came out as a focused piece of software, it never tried to feature compete with the competition, instead it focused on UI designers and their workflow.

The result is a fast and lightweight professional tool with little things like Artboards and export @2x that delighted designers who had to hack their way around Photoshop to fit their needs.

I believe there are two kinds of users – the ones who like to have every bit of functionality, control and customization available to them, and the ones who are willing to change their habits in order to find an easier and simpler solution to their problems. Think Android and iOS.

Both are valid, there is no good and bad way to do things, and Sketch, I believe, fits perfectly with the second group.

What is the best feature in Sketch that you couldn’t live without anymore?
The fact that everything is vector base, and all that comes with it.
In a world where responsive, DPI, Retina and non-retina are keywords that every Designer and Developer have to deal with, the ability to scale everything is a godsend, and something that Sketch nailed right in version 1. Looking back, the fact that Export at @2x was a big and awesome feature tells us that our tools weren’t really pushing the industry forward.

But because this is probably a boring answer I’ll say that both the Vectorize Stroke and Convert Text to Outlines greatly improved my workflow.

Where do you see room for improvement in Sketch?
Bug fixes.
In every release there’s a couple of sneaky new bugs, and it’s totally understandable.
Bohemian Coding is a very small and responsive team, and that’s something that I really like when compared to the competitors, but when/if Sketch is going to be used as the designated professional design tool in a team, performance and reliability are a must.

Which other tools do you use in your daily workflow as a designer?
Ok, let’s geek out a little bit:
I use Ember on my Mac and iPhone to collect images, webpages, whatever I find visually interesting. This proves to be my indispensable repository when I’m creating a moodboard for any project or just looking for inspiration.
Then there’s Omnifocus to keep my life manageable, Omnigraffle for flow charts and some wireframes, and Keynote for presentations and quick animations/prototypes.
I also religiously keep a Field Notes notebook on my back pocket for some quick sketches or random thoughts – there’s something about pen and paper that makes my mind work in a way that software can’t touch, go figure.

If you could immediately change one thing about Sketch, what would it be?
Open PSDs – BAM, Designers rejoice!

Is there anything else you want to add or mention?
Well, you can hear more from me on for some screencasts on Sketch, and you can hear me babbling about design on The Artboard podcast.
Thank you so much for having me.

Thank you Rafael, it was a great pleasure to have you on sketchtips.