Design

Procreate Guide: Everything You Need to Become a Procreate Pro

Want to become a Procreate pro? From top tools and features to helpful Procreate courses and tutorials, this guide contains everything you need to know!

Portrait for Marie Gardiner By Marie Gardiner
Posted 6 May 2021
Procreate Guide

Designers, illustrators and digital artists all around the world are now using Procreate to produce their personal and professional work. Teamed with an Apple tablet or iPhone (with the Procreate Pocket app) and a stylus, Procreate has the tactile feel of traditional art – recreating tools like pens, paint and pencils – but with all the benefits of digital: quick deletion, instant sharing, and hundreds of resources at your fingertips.

We know many of our Envato Elements subscribers are using Procreate due to the popularity of brushes, textures and fonts that can be integrated into Procreate projects. In fact, the search term ‘Procreate’ was consistently trending within Graphics and Add Ons on Elements throughout 2020.

With a one-off cost, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a professional artist who needs to work on the go, Procreate makes drawing and designing super easy and efficient. It has a minimalist interface, meaning it’s uncomplicated and instinctive to use, reducing the time you’ll spend learning a new piece of software and maximizing your creative output! 

Covering everything from how to use Procreate, to installing and using Procreate brushes, to mastering your Procreate skills with courses and step-by-step drawing tutorials, our helpful guide contains all the tools you need to become a Procreate Pro. Ready to start creating? Let’s jump in!

1. What Is Procreate?

Procreate advertisement

Procreate is an award-winning app which recreates the sensation of drawing physically onto paper while allowing you to take full advantage of all the benefits of working digitally. Packing all of the design tools you’d expect from a desktop program, Procreate for iPad means you can draw and design flexibly and portably wherever you are.

How Does Procreate Work? 

With a minimal, smooth interface, intuitive tools and impressive canvas resolutions, Procreate includes customizable brushes and a heap of useful tools for tweaking and editing your artwork, like blur, color balance, sharpening and much more.

What Are the Benefits of Using Procreate?

Kyle Lambert's poster for Stranger Things designed on Procreate
Kyle Lambert’s poster for Stranger Things designed on Procreate.

If you’ve previously used Adobe software like Photoshop for your design and illustration work, then many features of Procreate will look and feel familiar to you, making getting started much easier. Procreate allows you to import files from other devices and locations, and integrates with other apps and programs meaning you can move around your various workflows, seamlessly.

Designers and illustrators of all levels are using Procreate, but it’s always cool to see well-known artists demonstrating just what you can do with the app. For example, British creator Kyle Lambert designed the instantly recognizable poster for Stranger Things in Procreate, using it to sketch and do some tonal blocking before importing to Photoshop, demonstrating the versatility of being able to move seamlessly between workflows.

DC Comics creator Jim Lee demonstrated his sketches on Procreate with a time-lapse of his creation of Batman and Joker and Lucasfilm’s VP and Executive Creative Director for Star Wars, Doug Chiang praised creating digitally on iPad with Procreate, saying he used to have to throw away a whole design when he made a mistake, and now he can just hit undo!

How Much Is Procreate?

Procreate is available to download from the Apple App Store at $9.99

Procreate is available to download from the Apple App Store at $9.99, a refreshing one-off cost compared to many design programs. You’ll need to be sure that your iPad or iPhone is compatible and able to run Procreate but the great news is that you can check whether your device is supported on the Procreate website.

As a designer, illustrator or artist, you’ll know how important RAM is to be able to process multiple layers on your device and the same applies when you’re looking at your iPad specs to run Procreate. The processor is important too, and in fact it’s essential to some of Procreate’s newer features like FacePaint – which only works with faster processors. You’ll also want to think about the screen size and canvas resolution. The bigger the better! While you can zoom in, it makes for a much more comfortable workflow if you’re working on a larger screen.

When it comes to a stylus, no doubt you’ll have heard about Apple Pencil. Procreate has been designed to work with this in your toolkit, so to get the best experience for your digital art, it’s something you might want to consider investing in.

2. How to Use Procreate

Like learning any new program, the key is to start with the basics and then develop your skills as you go. It helps to have a grip on the essentials though, so here are some of the things we think you’ll need to know when you get started with Procreate.

Getting Started with Procreate

Getting Started with Procreate

As Procreate is great for beginners and professionals alike, it’s designed to be easy to use. Let’s take a look at the things you’ll find most useful when you start using Procreate.

Setting Up Your Procreate Canvas

When you create a new file, Procreate will give you some options for creating a custom canvas, you’ll be able to set the size and resolution yourself, or choose from standard sizes like A4.

Installing Procreate Brushes

As well as coming with hundreds of versatile brushes, Procreate also lets you organize and store them easily in a Brush Library, plus you can import new brushes, opening yourself up to thousands more options. Procreate supports Photoshop brushes too, and makes it easy to import brushes. Just tap the + and choose import, or tap on the brush file elsewhere on your iPad to bring up the option to import.

Sketching a New Procreate Layer

Layers are essential for most artists to be able to confidently progress a piece and make changes easily, without affecting the whole creation, and there are lots of ways to interact with layers in Procreate. You can create a new layer by tapping the + icon in the Layers panel. You’ll then be able to give your layer a name and choose from content options like Reference, Fill Layer and so on.

Using the Selection Tool

Selections help you isolate parts of your work for editing, giving you finer control. There are four selection options: 

  1. Interface and Gestures for repainting, editing and transforming.
  2. Automatic for a quick, single touch selection.
  3. Freehand to allow you to hand-draw around your content
  4. Rectangle and Ellipse where you can select content using those shapes as a guide. 

There’s also Advanced Selection which has further options.

Adding Texture

It’s easy to add texture to your work in Procreate. You can use a photograph, a specially created textured background as your canvas, or you can use bespoke brushes to build up a suitable amount of texture yourself.

Creating Backgrounds in Procreate

If you want to create your own custom background in Procreate to help give your artwork depth, you can take and import your own photographs – or use stock images – as a starting point and then adjust colors, and blur to help blend it with your drawing. You can also use Procreate brushes to make your own textured background.

Export Your Procreate Drawing

You can export your artwork and preserve your layers, names, effects etc. as a .procreate file or as a PSD for Photoshop. To export your designs as a flat visual file, you have the option of JPEG, PNG (with transparency), TIFF or PDF.

How to Use Procreate Brushes

Procreate brushes are great for everything from sketching and inking illustrations, to creating texture and hand-lettering words. Whatever technique you can think of, there’s a brush for that! There are free Procreate brushes available, you can customize existing brushes to create something bespoke, or you can make your own Procreate brushes. It’s really easy to install and use them, so you don’t need to be limited to what comes with the app. Visit Elements and sign up today to access our brush library.

Other Procreate Tools

Actions

Actions let you do everything from adding photos and text, to sharing images and even creating time-lapse videos. Customize your actions menu for total control over all your options, in a way that suits your needs. Use your bespoke menu to then add files, photos, text and more.

Smudge Tool

Smooth, Blend and Mix the colors of your designs with the Smudge tool. Simply tap Smudge and then choose a brush and tap or drag your finger across your brushstrokes to smudge it, changing the opacity slider to create different effects.

Erase Tool

Mistakes are no more with the Erase tool. Select a Procreate brush from the library and tap or drag your finger for the erase effect. Paint out errors, remove pigment or simply soften areas of your work by adjusting the opacity slider and using the same brush as you painted with to lessen the effect.

Layers

Layers are the foundation of your artwork. Stack them to have complete control and paint over existing work without altering previous layers. Organize your layers with Move, Lock, Duplicate and Delete with just a tap or a swipe. Choose a blend mode to change how layers interact or blend, and use masks for finer control over smaller areas without impacting others.

Color

Color is so important to any design, artwork or illustration, and Procreate has multiple color interfaces to help make sure you always get the best out of your color palettes. Drag and drop color into your work, import and share palettes or try Procreate’s nifty Harmony tool which suggests colors based on the mood of your art. Of course, if you’d prefer traditional color selection you can use Classic Color Picker with sliders for hue, saturation and brightness.

Brush Size and Opacity

Procreate’s Brush Studio has three sections: Attributes, Settings and Drawing Pad. With these, you can really explore your brushes in detail and adjust multiple options with sliders, toggles and other controls. Here you’ll be able to choose everything to do with your brush, including the size and opacity, with a handy drawing pad so you can test out each change as you make it.

Undo and Redo

We all make mistakes and need to be able to undo or even redo those quickly and easily. In Procreate, simply tap the canvas with two fingers to undo an action, or to undo a series of actions tap and hold two fingers to the canvas. To redo, just tap with three fingers.

3. Mastering Your Procreate Skills

Procreate for the iPad

Guides, resources and tutorials are essential assets when it comes to either learning how to use software or how to do a particular process or technique. Envato Tuts+ is a great place to find the latest design tutorials, including how to best use Procreate.

Procreate Tutorials

You’ll be an expert in Procreate in no time at all with our top resources to help you master the basics and move on to more complicated techniques, all with the help of dedicated professional artists, designers and illustrators who have made easy-to-follow tutorials.

Procreate Tutorial for Beginners

This Procreate Tutorial for Beginners contains everything you need to know to get started with Procreate. Start by learning how to open an existing artwork or create a new one, before moving on to controlling your brush strokes and learning essential tools like undo, redo, copy and making color choices.

How to Find Your Way in Procreate

Where can you find the most important tools in Procreate? This tutorial takes you through some of the most essential features and workflows in Procreate, including adding new layers, selecting colors, how to zoom, rotate and reposition the canvas, and how to use gestures to make adjustments quickly.

How to Install and Use Procreate Brushes

Learn how to install and efficiently use your Procreate brushes as well as some customization basics with this Tuts+ tutorial. The tutorial covers different methods of downloading brushes, whether on desktop or iPad, and then once installed, looks at how you can make targeted changes to them to get bespoke settings that fit your needs.

How to Use Procreate Layers

Layers are powerful tools and, in this guide to using them, and in this Tuts+ tutorial, you’ll learn how to separate, organize, preserve and expand your work. The tutorial covers renaming, copying the contents of your layer, merging and combining layers, using fill layers and much more.

How to Install and Use Fonts for Procreate

Discover how to download fonts onto your iPad and then add them in Procreate in this Tuts+ tutorial. By learning how to use the Design Panel, you’ll find out how to change the size of fonts, as well as adjusting the baseline, leading, tracking and more. This guide also shows you how to tap and drag to move your text.

How to Create and Customize Procreate Brushes

If you’d like to create and customize your own Procreate Brushes then this tutorial is essential reading. Take a look at brush categories, learn how to duplicate your original brush before making changes, and discover how to make adjustments to things like the stroke path, tapering, grain and more.

Hidden Features in Procreate

Think you know all there is to know about Procreate? Let this video tutorial amaze and surprise you with 23 hidden features. These include going quickly back to full screen mode after zooming, hiding your menu for better access to your canvas, and how to see and customize gesture controls.

For more great tips, tricks and guides to Procreate, check out these 30+ Best Procreate Tutorials on Tuts+!

Procreate Guides & Resources

Although it’s easy to use and minimalist in design, Procreate is packed with features and ways to make your workflow quicker and easier. Learn how to use the app to its full potential with Procreate guides written by those in the know. Here are some of our favorite resources for Procreate.

The Official Procreate Handbook

Procreate Handbook

Whether you want to expand your existing knowledge or just look up a particular task, the Procreate Handbook covers absolutely everything. From getting to grips with menus and gestures, to finishing and exporting your work, they’ve got you covered.

The Best iPad and Accessories for Procreate

Keeping up with technology and compatibility can be tricky. Let this article on the best accessories for Procreate take away the stress with a full guide to the best iPad to use, including some budget options, and a useful explanation of the Apple Pencil 1 and 2.

A Beginner’s Guide to Procreate Pocket

Intending to design and draw on iPhone with Procreate Pocket? No problem, this video will show you how to get started by making a cute iPhone wallpaper.

30+ Best Procreate Tutorials on Tuts+

30+ Best Procreate Tutorials for Beginners and Advanced!

You’ll be spoilt for choice with this set of Procreate Tutorials from Envato Tuts+. For Procreate beginners to advanced users, this list covers topics like how to use clipping masks, how to install fonts and how to digitally color sketches.

25 Procreate Tutorials for Drawings, Illustrations, Paintings, and More

25 Procreate Tutorials for Drawings, Illustrations, Paintings, and More

Streamline your workflow with these 25 tutorials for Procreate, like how to create a step-by-step digital illustration, how to make 3D lettering and how to sketch, ink and color.

Step-by-Step Drawing Tutorials for Procreate

Drawing tutorials are great because you can learn by doing, following along with an artist, illustrator or designer who’ll take you through a process gradually. Check out some of our best step-by-step tutorials.

Step by Step Digital Illustration with Procreate

Learn to draw like a professional with this beginner’s guide to digital painting in Procreate, a step-by-step tutorial which will take you from a simple sketch to a full digital illustration, in manageable, easy-to-follow stages.

3D Lettering in Procreate on the iPad Pro Tutorial

Make fancy 3D lettering from sketch to final product with this tutorial video for Procreate. As well as taking you through the process step-by-step, the artist will also demonstrate some useful Procreate tricks along the way.

How to Digitally Color Sketches in Procreate

In this video, see how a digital illustrator colors their sketches, including a look at color palettes and how to paint over sketch lines with a variety of brushes without obscuring your lines.

How to Create Painted Calligraphy with Procreate 

Make bright, hand-painted lettering with this tutorial for Procreate. It also includes a free color palette and an additional tutorial to help you create your own.

How to Create a Portrait in Procreate

Punk Rock Portrait Procreate

Learn how to paint a cool, punk style portrait in Procreate with this tutorial, starting with the Sketching set of brushes in the Brush Library before moving on to line art, coloring and adding shadows and highlights.

Watch Me Work: Neon Portrait in Procreate

In this tutorial from Tuts+, watch artist Mary Dimary create a stunning neon Procreate drawing and learn how to recreate it yourself. 

Over to You!

Designers all around the world love Procreate and we know you will too. Procreate is great for those who want to work on the go and have the flexibility in their workflow to be able to move it between devices and programs. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned professional, Procreate has something for everyone and once you try it, it’ll quickly become part of your regular toolkit and you’ll wonder how you coped without it!

We hope you enjoyed this Procreate Guide and learned some valuable tips and tricks! For more great content, read our interview on creating procreate brushes with Envato Elements Author Pixelbuddha, or brush up on our Illustration Trends for 2021!

And don’t forget to head over to Envato Elements to start creating today!

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