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Sketch for Beginners: Design a Bold Email Newsletter

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Read Time: 12 min
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial we’re going to learn how to create a simple and bold email newsletter template using Sketch.

The Brief

If you engage in sending out email newsletters, they should be considered a key point in your marketing strategies. They give us direct contact with potential customers but we have to pay attention to how we design them to communicate properly, grab attention and (most importantly) meet our objectives.

Here’s the briefing behind this design exercise: let’s imagine that we are a company which offers online learning resources. We want to get in touch with our potential customers, revealing the benefits of using our platform. In this situation we can start by creating a clean but effective email newsletter using Sketch to accomplish our needs.

We’re going to start totally from scratch, using the most common tools that we have in Sketh to create our template.You’ll be amazed at how easy it will be!

Warming up

To successfully complete this tutorial you’ll need to download the available attachments. In the zip file you’ll find some text and the images we’re going to use in the following steps.

I’ll use Helvetica Neue as the default font but if you don’t have it available, try with Helvetica or Arial.

Note: remember to be a responsible designer! By that I mean: remember to rename your layers using descriptive names, group the layers and organize the content. Your coworkers will thank you for that, trust me.

Are you ready? Let’s begin!

1. Setting up an Artboard

Step 1

Let’s start by creating a new artboard. Go to Insert > Artboard (A) from the main menu or toolbar. Now click and drag inside Sketch’s canvas to create a 620 x 3000px artboard. If you find it difficult, remember you can modify these values through the Inspector to the right of the screen. You can also change the artboard’s name from the Layer List on the left side of the screen.

Out artboard in SketchOut artboard in SketchOut artboard in Sketch

Tip: A common approach when designing email templates is to start with a document width around 550-650px. Learn more about email marketing in this great article by Nicole Merlin.

Step 2

Now let’s create some guides we’ll use as a reference to correctly place our elements, resulting in a sound and balanced design. Where should we place the guides? Let’s think a little:

An email template can be designed in many ways. One of the most common is simply creating a 1-column layout. This layout lets us guide the user in an easier way, using a vertical flow of content blocks, one after another. In addition, designing with a single-column structure in mind, give us the opportunity to easily adapt it to different devices.

For the purposes of this exercise however, we are here to practice a little bit more so we’re going to create a 3-column layout. Sorry!

Activate the rules and start creating guides. Go to View > Show Rulers (^R). Now click on the horizontal ruler at 30px, 200px, 225px, 395px, 420px and finally at 590px. You can move the rulers by dragging and moving them around. Also you can move your own guides in a similar way. To remove guides, drag them beyond the rulers.

Guides in SketchGuides in SketchGuides in Sketch

2. Designing the Header

The header of our email is very important. It’s the first contact we have with the user and therefore we must communicate our main proposition. It’s also a good decision to display the name of the company and a good slogan followed by a CTA button that encourages registering or getting more info about us.

Firstly we should add a preheader, a simple text link which allows the user to access to the web version of our newsletter in case their email client doesn’t allow them to view it correctly.

Step 1

Select the Text tool (T) and click anywhere on the canvas to insert a text layer. Notice how the Inspector has changed to show you all the text layer properties. Start typing “Problems viewing this email? View it online”.

Change its color to #8FA6B3 and set Size to 11px. Now select only the “View it online” part and change its color to #FF736D. Keep it selected. Click the Options icon next to Color and click the second Decoration option to underline the text.

Our first linkOur first linkOur first link

Move the object from the top of the artboard leaving a 30px margin.

Aligning our preheaderAligning our preheaderAligning our preheader

Step 2

Create a 620x500px rectangle using the Rectangle (R) tool and place it just under the text link, leaving 30px between them. Select the rectangle and change its color to #F5F7F8 using the Inspector panel. Uncheck the borders option to remove it.

Background for the first blockBackground for the first blockBackground for the first block

Step 3

Open the “icons” svg file attached to this tutorial. Select all the icons, copy and paste them into the document we’re designing our template. We’re going to use them to decorate the background of our header.

I’ve put the icons group at X= -50 and Y = 0 (look for Position properties on the Inspector Panel) but feel free to adapt on your own.

Masking and grouping objectsMasking and grouping objectsMasking and grouping objects

Tip: You’ll see that some parts of our icons are outside the artboard and Sketch automatically hides them. Nothing’s wrong. The program understands that you’re using an artboard to limit your design area so it hides the parts of elements positioned between the artboard area and the rest of the canvas. Try to move the entire group outside the artboard to view it completely. You see? Don’t forget to move it back to its original position!

Step 4

On the Layer List select the “icons” folder and the rectangle you previously created. Group them using one of the available options in Sketch. For example use the Group icon in the Toolbar or use the (⌘-G) keyboard shortcut to do it. Move the group down to the bottom on the Layer List, rename it to something like “Background” and use the little arrow on the left to reveal its contents.

Creating a mask in SketchCreating a mask in SketchCreating a mask in Sketch

Select the rectangle and go to Layer > Use as Mask. Wait for the magic. Sketch will use the rectangle to mask every layer above it on the Layer List. If we previously grouped the content we want to be masked and the mask together, we won’t affect the elements outside the group. Pretty useful tip!

Now you should have the icons already masked like the following image:

Step 5

Open the “logo” svg file and copy the logotype into our document. I know it’s too big, so go to the Inspector Panel to change its dimensions to 90 x 31px. Move it to X = 265, Y = 100.

Adding a logotypeAdding a logotypeAdding a logotype

Step 6

Create a new text layer and set its width to 560px. Move it to X = 30 and Y = 220. Now edit the text and change it to “Your place to discover real world skills”. Set its properties to Weight = Bold, Color = #424242, Size = 48, Line = 45 and Alignment = Center. Select only the “real” word and change it to italic.

The sloganThe sloganThe slogan

Step 7

Now we’re going to design our primary action button. Draw a 220x45px rectangle. Go to the Inspector panel and set Radius to 30. Change Fill to #D92B2B. Move it under the slogan text, leaving around 50px between the two objects.

Creating the CTA buttonCreating the CTA buttonCreating the CTA button

Step 8

Our button makes no sense if we leave it empty! We need a call to action text, a few words that focus on the main proposition and grab the user’s attention. I would love to talk more about this kind of marketing, but to speed up a little we’re going to simply create a text layer, then type “Join us from 10$/month”.

Change the properties to Weight = Bold, Color = #FFFFFF and Size = 15. Move it to X = 225, Y = 375, just inside our rounded rectangle.

We’re going to use this button again later so it’s a good idea to save it as a symbol. Group the text and rectangle layers and click the Create symbol option from the main toolbar. Notice how the folder color on the Layer List has changed from blue to purple.

The CTA symbolThe CTA symbolThe CTA symbol

Step 9

I think we need a little bit more contrast between the foreground contents and the background image so let’s make a minor change. Go to the Layer List, expand the Background folder and duplicate the rectangle you’re using to mask the background icons. Move it to the top of the group, go to the Inspector panel and change Blending to Lighten and Opacity to 50%. At the end you should get something like this:

Our header is done!

3. Designing the “Who we Are” Block

Now that we have the user’s attention we need to talk a little about ourselves and our services. Who we are? What do we do? We have to answer these questions in a direct, concise way, trying to show some additional benefits about using our platform.

Step 1

Create two new text layers. Set their width to 480px. You can type whatever you want, but I’ve used the text you will find inside the attached text file.

Done? Now use the following positions and properties:

Step 2

Draw a 100px wide line (Insert > Shape > Line) and set Thickness to 2px and border color to #E24A4A. Place it between the two text layers, leaving a distance of 25px between each element. Remember: if you press the Alt key while moving the cursor, you can see the distances in pixels between the selected elements.

Adding some texts to our email campaignAdding some texts to our email campaignAdding some texts to our email campaign

Step 3

We’re going to replicate the previous structure a couple of times throughout this tutorial. But for now, select the line and the text layers and group them. Remember to be organized and give it a name. I’ve used “first-block”.

Select the “Search for online...” text layer, go to the Inspector Panel and create a new Text Style by clicking over the “No Text Styles”, then Create New Text Style. Do the same with the second text layer. Now every layer linked to these styles will be updated at once when you edit their properties.

Creating stylesCreating stylesCreating styles

Note: take into consideration that Sketch can’t save Text Styles with multiple font-weights applied in the same layer. Saying that, I won’t be using styles for this tutorial. If you want to learn a little bit more about styles, check out our A to Z guide of Sketch.

Step 4

Open the “highlights-icons” svg file. Copy the three icons you will find into the document and paste them in your design. Use the guides you already have to align them as if you were using a 3-columns layout, just under the previous block. Don’t put them too close to that block, leave whitespace of around 40px. If you need help, just check out the following image:

Adding some iconsAdding some iconsAdding some icons

Step 5

Create three 170px wide text layers using Helvetica Neue Bold, Size = 15, Line = 18, Color = #424242 and Alignment = Center. Put these elements around 30px under the icons using the guides and start typing–or copy the text from the attached file!

Writing benefits about our companyWriting benefits about our companyWriting benefits about our company

Another block finished!

Designing the “New lessons” Block

A common feature in newsletters is sending out the latest articles or content that readers would be interested in. So after our primary CTA and the part where we talk a little bit about ourselves, let’s create a block where we show the most recent lessons available on our learning platform.

Step 1

Start by duplicating the “first-block” you already did. Put it under the previous blocks, 40px margin, and use the contents inside the .txt file to modify the text layers. It should be something like this:

Putting some additional content into our email templatePutting some additional content into our email templatePutting some additional content into our email template

Step 2

Go to the “lessons” folder in the source files and import all the images into your document through Insert > Image. Now you have seven images, 620px wide. We’re going to use one of them at full size and resize the rest to fit into our 3-columns layout.

Our lessons thumbnailsOur lessons thumbnailsOur lessons thumbnails

Step 3

Let’s add some text for our big image. Insert three text layers, use the text file one more time and set the properties and positions as follows:

Text layers propertiesText layers propertiesText layers properties

Step 4

We need a few more text layers for the other lessons we are showing. Let’s do it again; insert three text layers, type whatever you want or copy texts from the file provided. Set their properties and positions using the following image as reference and repeat the process five times to finish the rest of the lessons you’re showing.

More text layers propertiesMore text layers propertiesMore text layers properties

Another block finished. Take a moment to organize your layers, then move on to the next part!

The Lessons blockThe Lessons blockThe Lessons block

Main Proposition, Again

I know our email template is... long. But it’s not a problem if we know how to deal with it! Users will have to scroll all the way down through your content so it’s a good idea to offer an easy access to another call to action without having to scroll all the way back to the top of the email.

Step 1

Do you remember the “first-block” you duplicated before? Do it again, move it under the “lessons block” leaving a margin by around 40px and change its contents as follows:

Adding another info blockAdding another info blockAdding another info block

Step 2

Insert a 620x243px rectangle and fill it with #F5F7F8. Now add a text layer and change its content and properties using the following image as reference:

Catchy slogan for our secondary CTA blockCatchy slogan for our secondary CTA blockCatchy slogan for our secondary CTA block

Step 3

Go to Insert > Symbols and pick the CTA button you created before. Put it under the previous paragraph.

We’re almost finished!

Designing the Footer

Ok, we have our main block and a call to action. Next, we added some secondary messages and a little bit more content. Later, we talked again about our main proposition, repeating the call to action. Now it’s time to design the footer and finish our template!

Step 1

Create a 620x130px rectangle. Fill it with #555E68 and put it under the CTA block. Next, create another 620x45px rectangle and fill it with #383E44. You should end up with something like this:

Designing the footerDesigning the footerDesigning the footer

Step 2

Import the “logo-white” file into your document and move it to X = 265 and Y = 2787.

Put the logo into the footerPut the logo into the footerPut the logo into the footer

Step 3

Let’s add the final text. Insert three text layers and set their properties and positions as follows:

Text layers propertiesText layers propertiesText layers properties

It’s not necessary, but you can adjust the artboard’s height to match only the space you really need. You can do so by selecting it on the Layer List and changing its height on the Inspector panel. I’ve changed it to Height = 2937px.

You’re Done!

Here is how the final product should look.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Let me know if you get stuck or you need to ask for something. Do you have an idea for my next tutorial? Leave a comment! I look forward to seeing how you get on!

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