I've always been intimidated by Illustrator and it's pen tool to the point that I void using it. I usually do everything on Photoshop and then import to Illustrator to use the live trace feature whenever I need to create my own vectors.

Today I bought Sketch, gave it a try and I am very amazed on how easy the vector tool is. I was able to create my first logo within a few hours. I know that Illustrator is the industry standard but I really want to keep using Sketch from now on.

I'm trying to figure out what is the best way to export my work to Illustrator. I exported as an eps but Illustrator merged the mop/center part of the logo (highlighted layer) as you can see here:

Illustrator esp

I wanted to show my Sketch file with all it's layers but I don't have enough reputation to add more images. But the mop is basically a composition of a bunch of layers in it's own layer group.

I tried again exporting as pdf and that seemed to separate all the layers correctly but I did get the "The document contains PDF objects that have been reinterpreted: An unknown shading type was encountered, An unknown shading type was encountered. To preserve appearance, some text has been outlined." message when opening.

I also noticed the main gradient on the mop disappeared (even though it did gave me gradients on other elements), and the Gaussian blur I used for shadows looks weird:

Illustrator PDF

Both exporting options left some text to be editable and turned other characters into shapes, and all borders became independent layers, they are no longer part of their original shapes.

I'm doing something wrong? Is there a specific procedure to exporting to Illustrator that you can share? Am I supposed to export every individual layer and recreate the whole thing again in Illustrator?


2 Answers 2


Ah, yes, PDF... lovely support for transparent gradients, which I'm assuming is what happened to your file.

From the Sketch Documentation on File Formats for Export:

  • PDF or EPS: Preserve vector objects. Note that transparent gradients are not supported in the PDF standard.

In your case, exporting an SVG might yield the result closest to what you're looking for: preserving your gradients and maintaining editable text layers.

I nearly always find myself exporting SVGs when I want to move from Sketch into another program (even Photoshop). But there's a bit of a caveat in that same document from above:

  • SVG: SVG support is quite good on shapes and text support, however, shadows are not supported.

The preferred file format is EPS which has been an Adobe pre-requisite for 20 years back to the early postscript printers and Adobe Type Manager on Mac OS 6. Illustrator's vector pre-decessor, Freehand (formerly by Macromedia) also worked best with EPS files. It might not like everything you produce in Sketch though which is down to that programme. I believe that Sketch is primarily aimed at vector to font / web applications rather than serious vector design (like say biscuit packaging).

In terms of SVG as a vector format, I only use this to deliver transparent icons to my web author team mates so that they are easily edited in code and download quickly - we convert them into a font. Otherwise I stick with EPS or the originating AI file.

Speaking of Illustrator, if you can get access to a copy I would persevere with learning it as it is an industry standard, assuming you will move on to some more complex vector work in time. I understand your feelings totally and as a former Freehand user I resisted the move until my Mac would no longer install Freehand (I keep a 2006 Mac with 10.6 so that I can still use it).

Illustrator on first use, is overly complex as it adopts wider Adobe software palettes and shortcuts, great if you know Indesign, odd otherwise. For example, in Freehand you can colour a stroke within the stroke tool palette (logical) whereas in Illustrator (CS6) you have to go to another vertical Photoshop like palette and select fill or stroke first. I appreciate there will be a key shortcut before anyone jumps on me - my point here is as a new adopter it isn't the easiest software to work with. Another example; the way transparency works with the expand control and the canvas being white by default (even when its actually transparent) is real confusing when you first start (I had to Google that one). Easy in Freehand.

However, once you get into it and have followed a couple of tutorials it is flexible, resilient and fast... I can create a simple transparent icon now and export to SVG in minutes. Here is an example I made on my second look at the programme - no scan or font in this.

simple vector icon in RGB

Best wishes and happy learning


  • 1
    Although I agree on the fact that knowing the basics of illustrator is great for any designer, I disagree that illustrator is 'the industry standard'. I've been designing with Sketch for a while now (webdesign, which is what it's made for) and haven't needed to lay a hand on illustrator even once. You are correct, for other types of design like packaging, stick to illustrator. For web based design, even logos, I would disagree.
    – Summer
    Sep 7, 2016 at 13:54
  • 2
    Industry standard foes not really mean anything particilar @JaneDoe1337 it is just one of those things you say to impress people.
    – joojaa
    Sep 7, 2016 at 14:19
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    JaneDoe - a good point - Sketch is fine for Font / Web work if that is all you do. It has limitations for wider vector work. @joojaa - mate, this is a ridiculous comment and I have no need to impress you or anyone else. In my universe (not sure where you inhabit) Adobe CS Suite is the industry standard for professional designers for too many reasons to list but I will give you a few: ongoing development over 2 decades, support (official and community), co-operative projects across countries, file transfer acceptance, colour consistency, Mac compatibility.... etc, etc. But, you know best. Sep 7, 2016 at 15:08
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    Actually last 5 years adobe has been a bad steward. So no development for 2 decades is not a really a good reason. Illustrator while still one of the best ones is by far the weakest link in adobes arsenal. It could easily be replaced with something else. The days are gone when adobe was the only one to offer color management and so on. Illustrator is king today, but not very long at this pace.
    – joojaa
    Sep 7, 2016 at 15:47
  • 1
    Do you want me to get your coat now, or do you want me to get you a spade so that you can dig that hole a little deeper. Read my original post. I am not an Adobe fan. Sep 7, 2016 at 15:55

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