Create Beautiful App Store Screenshots with Sketch

You’ve succeeded in creating an awesome app, and it is now time to submit it to the App Store. Step it up a notch by easily creating screenshots with captions that impress and excite potential users.

In this post I’ll show you how to do this using Sketch and the SketchToAppStore template from LaunchKit.

The template has everything defined to create screenshots for all device sizes.

Assuming you already have Sketch, start by downloading the template using the link above. Once you download the zip you’ll see the following files in it.

template-files

You just need the SketchToAppStore.sketch file. I put it in a screenshots folder to which one size of iPhone and iPad screenshots will also be added.

First, you need to take screenshots of your app using the Simulator, for one flavor of iPhone and iPad (assuming you support both). To do this, in the Simulator use File >> Save Screen Shot. Do this for 5 iPhone and 5 iPad screens that you would like to upload to the app store. The template will take care of duplicating those screens in the other sizes.

Create a generated folder under the screenshots folder, for all the files the SketchToAppStore template will export.

Open the template in Sketch and now we’ll begin to define everything needed. I’ll do this with the screenshots I uploaded for my 1Goal app last year. I didn’t use this template for them, so I think this short tutorial is the perfect time to enhance those screenshots and add some captions.

Once you open the template you’ll probably have to zoom in a little. The instructions are excellent, so I won’t repeat too much of the content.

In Step 1 you need to provide your own photo as a background. You could simply use the one that is there by default. I will change it and use one of my own that I took at  Varadero Beach in Cuba. It actually looks very much like the default photo, but I like having my own.

To replace the photo, click on Background Workspace and open the Photo Background layer (in the objects on the left). Select Background Photo, and then in the Inspector (on the far right), click on Fill, and then select the Choose Image… button. Choose your background image.

You can see this in the screenshots below, where I’ve chosen my ocean and beach image so far on just the iPhone background.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 6.44.08 PM
Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 6.44.19 PM

Repeat for the iPad background and then select both images, then click Export Layers in the Inspector. I export into the generated directory so everything exported is in one place.

For Step 2, you specify the two exported files as the Master Background and Master Background iPad images. You do this by selecting Fill in the Inspector and then Choose Image…, for both devices.

In Step 3, you specify the 5 screenshots for iPhone and iPad by clicking on each Master Screenshot, and like previous steps, select Fill and Choose Image…, and you do that in the order you would like the images to appear. Here is what mine looks like when I’ve added my 5 iPhone screenshots.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 7.02.03 PM

Do the same for iPad screenshots and then you can move to the next step.

In Step 4, you define the text you’d like to see above your device screenshots. For each of the 5 screenshots, you need to define the same text 3 times for different size devices, as the template instructions indicate. I suggest you zoom in to make the text bigger, and then you can just double click on each text block and replace with your new text. Here is what my screen looks like when I’ve highlighted the text that I’m going to replace for the first screenshot.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 7.08.49 PM

Once you replace all the text with your amazing statements that will interest users, you can move onto the next step, and the process is almost finished.

In Step 5, you can change the device color to be black instead of white. If you are happy with white, then there is nothing that needs to be done in this step.

If you want to change the device color to black, start with the 5.5 Device Setup and open it, then open up iPhone 6 Plus and click on White. You need to select Hide Layer, and then click on Black and select Show Layer.

When you’ve done it for just the one device size as described above, you’ll see the first device changed to black like this image.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 7.31.15 PM

Follow the same steps for the other devices shown to change them all to black. In my case, even though my own iPhone is black, I like the softness of the white for these App Store screenshots on the ocean and beach background, so I’ll undo the change I made and leave them all as they were defaulted.

Those are all the steps other than exporting, however there are a couple of other tweaks I elected to make. Specifically, I prefer to change the text color and make the font Medium. In my case this is what the 5.5 screenshot will look like prior to those changes.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 7.39.30 PM

You make these changes by double clicking on the first text object in Step 4, and in the Inspector you will see the screen below if you then click on Color and enter 255/255/255 and Medium as I’ve done. You have to do it for all sizes of text in the first device size, and then the other device sizes are automatically updated.

Text color would depend on what your screen background and app colors are, so I’ve chosen what blends nicely with my screenshots. This is what it looks like now.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 8.18.44 PM

The difference is subtle but I like how it looks better than the default, so when using the template I suggest you plan to change the text to suit your particular user interface and preferences.

Changes are now complete and all that remains is the File >> Export into the generation directory. You’ll have to click Export on the next two screens that pop up, and choose the generation directory on the second screen. Once you’ve done that, go ahead and look at all the generated files. The template explains what is generated.

For comparison, here is one of my screens and the generated screen with text and the device. I think it is a big step up to see the screen presented on a device with a caption above it so your potential user doesn’t have to guess at what the screenshot is attempting to convey.

iPhoneCalendar
5.5 Device 4

One thing you’ll notice is that the bottom of the device is always cut off. In general this is fine, and you see it on many App Store screenshots, although when you’ve got something you want to show at the bottom then it might be an issue.

If you like the concept of having device screenshots with text and you want to customize where the text is, you can bypass using the template in Sketch and instead use LaunchKit’s Screenshot Builder. There is a free plan and a paid plan. If you want all the bells and whistles you’d need to opt for the paid plan.

I have not tried this, but you could probably unlock layers in the template and customize where the text is displayed. However, the paid plan is only $5 per month. For that small cost you would have easy point and click control over your screenshots. That is worth considering if you want to save time and effort.

I like the look of a device screenshot with text so I’m quite pleased with what can be achieved with Sketch and the free template.

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