By Howard Pinsky
May 14, 2019 ·
4 min video
In this video, we're going to take a look at the Assets panel in Adobe XD. And how it can not only store elements for future use, but keep everything up to date as well. Let's take a look.
The Assets panel, which can be triggered at the bottom of the application or with the associated shortcut, is home to the elements you use most often, from colors, to character styles, to symbols – all in one, easy to access place.
Starting out with colors and character styles, as you’re building out your designs, you’re able to quickly add either by pressing the plus button, right-clicking on an element, or using the corresponding shortcut – and what’s neat about assets, is that they can be added at any point in your project and you’ll still be able to make global edits. To quickly catch you up, you can also select an entire artboard to add any missing colors or character styles all at once. Once added, just like layers, you’re able to rename and rearrange your assets to keep them organized – and if you’re like me, sometimes the colors just have to flow.
Now, the most obvious benefit of adding assets is quick access. At any point in a project I can apply a color or character style to a selected layer by simply clicking on it in the assets panel, and even if I have multiple layers selected, they’ll apply to them all. But what if, later on in a project, your creative direction changes. Imagine having to go through every single artboard to update your highlight color. Well, as along as that color exists as an asset – and again, it can be added after the fact – all you have to do is right click on the color, choose edit, then make the change. It’ll not only update on your active artboard, but across your entire document.
The same works for character styles. We’ve all been there. It’s late on a Saturday night and you’re cramming in some last-minute designing. Unfortunately, you decided to use Papyrus for the header text on all of your screens. Thankfully you can quickly correct that embarrassing mistake by adding that awful style as an asset, then making the edit. XD will figure out where else you committed this unspeakable sin, and make it all disappear.
So that’s colors and character styles, but what about symbols? In short, a symbol can be a single layer, or multiple layers, and just like a smart object in Photoshop, it will appear as one. Let’s use this element as an example since it’s likely to be used across multiple artboards. In the layers panel, I’m going to select all layers that I want included, then I can either use the Command/CTRL + K shortcut, or hop over to my assets panel and press the + button beside Symbols.
You’ll notice that a single symbol has been added containing all the layers that make up the object. But, how is this any different than a group? For one, it gives you quick access to objects you frequently use, but best of all, just like colors and character styles, symbols allows you to keep all instances up to date. Let me quickly drag out another onto this artboard. Now imagine if you had a document that contained dozens of the same object that you want updated. Because they were placed as a symbol, I only have to update one.
Double-clicking on a symbol will let me access the individual layers, and in this case, I want to change the background color. As I adjust the Fill to the right, all instances update at the same time, no matter where they are on the document.
Another really neat benefit of symbols are their ability to swap. Let’s say you want to change the design of this icon, with this one over here. I’ll first start by turning the new one into symbol just like we did just a few moments ago, and once it’s saved in my assets panel, all I have to do is drag it on top of an existing symbol to swap not only that one, but any others that may exist in the document.
And that’s a look at how assets can be used in Adobe XD to reuse colors, character styles, and symbols, and just as importantly, keep your projects up to date. In a future video, we’ll also take a look at how symbols can be linked between documents – both locally and in the cloud.
The Assets panel keeps your design elements organized. Rename and manage your custom colors, character styles, and components. Reorder frequently used elements by dragging them to the top of the list. Organize your assets by primary and secondary colors and list character styles by H1 tag hierarchy.
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