Design & UX
Article
By Daniel Schwarz

Adobe XD Tutorial: A Pain-free Way to Import Assets

By Daniel Schwarz

Ever since Adobe decided to take on Sketch by finally building a dedicated user interface design tool, many have wondered how long it would take before both apps were fighting in the same weight division.

Let's take a look at Adobe XD‘s new drag and drop asset import feature, and then you can decide for yourself. Adobe XD is only available for Mac at the moment, but it’ll be available for Windows very soon. Here’s how we typically import assets today:

  • Save AsFileImport or
  • Ctrl/Command+CCtrl/Command+V

“Drag and drop” has also been a feature in most design applications for as long as I can remember, but there’s no way to automate this action with various reusable components at once, essentially offering unique content to a set of components that are otherwise identical in terms of visuals – until now that is.

Designing a Grid of Article Cards with Repeat Grids

Start by opening a new “Web” document from the splash screen – it doesn’t matter which size you choose, as long as there’s a lovely white canvas to work on. Press R to create and draw a rectangle, and ensure that the dimensions are 400x300px.

Now create another rectangle (400x100px), remove its border, and then use black (#000000) with 80% opacity for the “Fill” color – make sure to select Color SlidersRGB Sliders first.

Building a base for the card

Let's create a series of text layers to lay over this rectangle; in a moment it’ll be clear that we’re designing article cards consisting of the article’s category, title, and date. Press T to select the “Text” tool and use the following optional styles:

  • Fill: #F39C12
  • Text: Helvetica Neue, 15, Bold
  • Height: 18 (same as Line Spacing)

Creating text layers

And again:

  • Text: Helvetica Neue, 21, Condensed Bold
  • Fill: #FFFFFF
  • Height: 26

Final time:

  • Text: Helvetica Neue, 14, Regular
  • Fill: #FFFFFF
  • Height: 16
  • Align: Right

Styling text layers

Reusing Components with the Repeat Grid Tool

Drag the mouse cursor to select all of the layers at once, then select the “Repeat Grid” tool from the sidebar. You’ll notice that the component now has tug-able side handles – you can tug these handles to tile the component as many times as needed. What happens to one tile will happen to all of them (in terms of styling, but not necessarily in content, which is very handy).

Defining a Repeat Grid

Tip: you can easily adjust the width of the gutter by dragging the spaces in-between each row or column of the grid.

Adjusting the gutter width

Replacing a Series of Images with Drag and Drop

Now this is where the magic happens. Before we begin, here are the four images by the wonderful Evgeniya Porechenskaya that I’m using in the screenshots: Red Calla Minimalism, Calla Fashion Minimal, Blue Roses on a Crimson Background and Red Tulip Bouquet.

Save these images to your computer (the samples will do fine). If you then drag one of the images into one of the rectangles, the image will be automatically clipped (and of course applied to each tile). If you select all four images, however, one image will be applied to each tile; this is how we can save bundles of time when importing image assets into Adobe XD. So far, this is the quickest method when compared to Sketch or Photoshop.

Why?

  1. No need to mask, clip or resize the images to fit
  2. No need to repeat the steps over and over
  3. No need to use Overrides (in Sketch)

Automating image imports

Populating Text Layers Using Text Files

We can do the same thing with text. Lets say that we want to replace each instance of the lorem ipsum title with a unique title, we would open TextEdit (or whatever app you use to create simple .txt files), write each title on a new line, and then drag the file into the layer, like we did with the images.

Adobe XD will automatically extract each new line and distribute them to every instance of that repeated layer.

Dragging files into the canvas

Warning: TextEdit uses Rich Text Format by default, but you can change this under FilePreferences (choose “Plain Text”).

Conclusion

It’s not always the designer that chooses the images or decides upon the text, but thanks to Adobe XD’s update, whoever is in charge of that can create an asset folder of image and text files, and the designer can then simply drag them directly into the design file and use them as-is. This highly-energetic workflow is much easier and can save you huge amounts of time.

What do you think? Will Adobe XD become a real contender against Sketch? What vital features do you think Adobe XD lacks?

Adobe XD is still in Preview, so it’s free to try right now.

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