In Sketch, How Can You Make Nested Symbols?

While Sketch may seem simple, its Symbols functionality can prove to be a time-saver. To streamline your design process, check out our tutorial on creating nested Symbols in Sketch.

To efficiently manage icons and symbols in your design, updating the original version is key. Rather than making changes to each instance individually, update the source icon or symbol and propagate the changes throughout the file, saving you time and effort.

Designers can take advantage of Sketch’s powerful tools to make quick adjustments, with Symbols being a standout feature. Our latest tutorial delves into the benefits of nested Symbols and how they can be used to create cohesive design systems.

What are Nested Symbols?

Simplify your workflow and speed up your design process by creating nested symbols in Sketch. These symbols are generated by combining existing symbols, and while it may initially seem complex, our tutorial will show you how to easily harness the power of nested symbols.

How to Create Nested Symbols

To better illustrate the process of building nested symbols, let’s use the example of the button shown above.

Step 1: Create Colour Symbols

Firstly, let’s choose the colours for our button. Create a 100px by 100px rectangle with no border and fill it with PRIMARY-BLUE. To convert the rectangle into a symbol, right-click on it and select ‘Create Symbol’ from the context menu. From the Symbols menu, duplicate the entire symbol by double-clicking the rectangle.

Rename the duplicated symbol to **COLOUR / SECONDARY-BLUE** and change the fill colour accordingly. You can repeat this process to create symbols with other colours.

Step 2: Create Icon Symbols

In addition to colours, we will also include icons in our nested symbol. The process is similar to that of creating colour symbols: start by creating a single icon and converting it into a symbol. Then, from the Symbols menu, duplicate the entire symbol with the icon and give it a unique name.

It is crucial that all icon symbols have the same artboard size.

Step 3: Creating a Button Using Stacked Symbols

Let’s combine the colour and icon symbols we created in steps one and two to create a nested symbol.

Begin by creating a new artboard and shaping the coloured symbol into the form of a button. Add text on top of the button and place the icon symbol on top of that. Group all the layers together by selecting them and save the resultant group as a new symbol.

That’s it! Now you can use symbol overrides to easily customise your button in just a few steps.

Step 4 (Optional): Naming Layers with Emojis

Including emojis in your layer names can enhance the readability of your design project. Check out my previous article, “Emoji Evolution: Creating the New Face of Messaging” for a detailed guide on how to do this.

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