If you are starting with digital art for the first time, using Procreate can become intimidating at times. While the app is a great place to start your digital art journey, drawing on an iPad would certainly come with learning curves. That is why, in this Procreate tutorial, I will be covering all the basics and how to great started with Procreate. Not only you would learn what is Procreate, but also how to use the Procreate app and make your own masterpiece. So, let’s dive into it.
Over the past year, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using Procreate. It’s a magic tool for drawing and painting on my device. I learned a lot and created cool art. Procreate simplifies everything, from sketching to adding tiny details. It’s like a superpower for art on my digital canvas. The more I use it, the more I love it. Though I am not a seasoned artist, Procreate unlocks endless possibilities to make my art work exciting and enjoyable.
What is Procreate?
Procreate is a painting application exclusively available on iPad. Keeping simplicity in mind, with utmost user-friendliness, Procreate has become the go-to digital painting app for both beginners and experts alike.
Things You Can Do with Procreate
Procreate allows you to replicate the feeling of using a pencil on paper while drawing. In addition to that, you can have a lot of flexibility as well. Along with simply drawing on the screen, you can make use of the various brushes to replicate different materials. You can easily create watercolor or oil paintings on Procreate.
Procreate makes it seamlessly easy to automatically rotate the canvas when needed so that you can toggle between landscape and portrait mode. Since Procreate is specifically optimized for iPads, you are going to have a smooth user experience while working on the app. Overall, Procreate opens a whole new world of possibilities for digital artwork.
How to Install on Procreate?
In order to create your next masterpiece, you basically need three things to get up and running. An iPad, compatible stylus, and Procreate from the Apple App Store which you can get for a one-time purchase at 12.99 USD.
Our recommendation would be to stick with the Apple Pencil since it is specifically made for iPad. Not to mention, the Apple Pencil is by far one of the most responsive and precise stylus you can find out there in the market.
You will also like: 18 Procreate Tips and Tricks to Jumpstart Your Digital Art Journey
How to Get Started on Procreate?
Now that you have familiarized yourself with Procreate, get your iPad and Apple Pencil to bring life to your digital artwork.
1. Explore the Gallery
Once you open Procreate, the very first thing you will see is the Gallery. Here you can see all the artworks you have completed so far. For first-time users, you will be prompted with sample artwork.
While opening Procreate, you can get a detailed view of the current app version you are using. Try to keep your app up-to-date to get the most out of Procreate. On the Gallery window, you can find 4 different options in the top right corner, namely Select, Import, Photo, and ‘+.’
Using the ‘Select’ option you can pick multiple artworks at a time. Once you have selected all the artworks, you can tap on the ‘Stack’ group and organize them accordingly. You can also use the Select option to create mass export, delete multiple files and create duplicates.
2. Create a New Canvas
In order to start creating your artwork, you need to add a new Canvas. Top on the ‘+’ icon to bring forth a new canvas. You can either go with Procreate’s default canvas size or create your own canvas.
The default canvas allows you to simply pick the ‘screen size’ while creating a new canvas, you can customize the dimensions, time-lapse settings, color profile, and other canvas properties.
3. Set Up Your Canvas to Start Painting
In this section we are going to discuss all the different ways in which you can manipulate your canvas and get your ideal digital artwork:
A. Pick the Right Dimension
If you want to customize your canvas, you can pick the dimension size based on your project. Dimensions can be set in mm, cm, inches, and even pixels. Furthermore, Procreate also allows you to change the DPI of your canvas depending on the artwork you will be working on. But, for the most part, you can keep your DPI set to 300.
Note: Creating a larger canvas allows you to set fewer layers on your artwork. So, make sure to keep the perfect balance between the two.
You can also manually change the color profile of your canvas as well. By default, it is usually set to RGB, but for printed designs, you can go with CMYK.
B. Set Up Your Brush Size and Opacity
In order to start painting, make sure first open up the brush library. You can access the same from the brush icon at the top of the screen. Procreate offers a wide range of default brushes to choose from, within the Brush Studio.
You can read my artilce on best Procreate brushes and pick one from different types and textures including watercolors, pencils, and pastel colors. Just make sure not to get intimidated by such a wide range of offerings. Not to mention, once you get accustomed to the default brushes, you can pick custom ones based on your requirement.
Along with the brush, you can use additional tools such as smudge and eraser. Furthermore, with Procreate, you can use the same brush to paint, smudge and erase.
C. Learn About QuickShape
QuickShape is a unique feature in Procreate that allows you to transfer any wobbly lines in perfect shape. You achieve the same by simply drawing any line or shape and holding it until it snaps into its perfect form. This is applicable to all lines, circles, ellipses, arcs, and even quadrilaterals.
4. Choose the Right Color for Your Artwork
Procreate has made it very simple when it comes to choosing colors. You can pick various interfaces to choose a color. Here are some of the most common ways in which you can pick color on Procreate:
A. Color Disc
The color disc on Procreate is similar to the standard color wheel you can find on any other application. You get complete access to all the different colors within the spectrum and check how it changes based on different saturation and hue.
Change it to the classic interface, and you can change the brightness, saturation, and hue within 1 slider. This, in turn, allows you to pick the right color based on your preference.
The harmony color interface on the other hand offers you various color suggestions based on the color and color scheme you have selected.
C. Value Color
With the value color interface, you can be more specific on your color choice, while setting up values and percentages. You can also use the hexadecimal code for any color, to search more precisely.
With pallets, you can actually group colors based on a particular color scheme. You can either pick the default Procreate palette or create your own for that matter.
E. Color Picker
Last but not least, Procreate actually allows you to pick colors from any workspace. This is often done from reference photos or any color you have already used in your previous work.
5. Work Your Way Through the Layer Panels
One of the most important aspects of Procreate is the Layer Panel. If you know how to use layers properly, it can add more flexibility to your work. Here are some of the most integral layer functions in Procreate:
A. Layer Visibility
Tap on the checkbox from the right side of the layer to show or hide any layer on your work. You can also select multiple layers at once by simply swapping right next to the layers you want to select.
B. Rearrange Layers
With Procreate you can easily rearrange layers with an ease as well. Tap and hold any layer and move it in any order you want. Furthermore, you can rearrange layers as much as you want. Select multiple layers at once to move them to a new location as well.
C. Delete and Group Layers
You can also delete more than one layer at a time. Select all the layers you want to delete and tap on ‘Delete’ from the upper-right corner. The same steps can be followed, to Group multiple layers at once. This adds more flexibility while dragging multiple layers altogether.
D. Clipping Mask and Alpha Lock
This clipping mask is by far one of the most important features in the layer panel. Using the clipping mask option, you can clip the current layer to the layer below from the Layer Panel. This way, everything you paint on the top layer where the clipping mask is activated, would only reflect on the parts of the below layer.
Alpha lock on the other hand allows you to draw directly on the filled parts of the layer, although only limited to the filled parts. Bear in mind, with clipping masks, you can make further changes to your drawing, but the change is irreversible with Alpha Lock.
That being said, you can seamlessly use both mask options to add colors or textures to selected areas. In fact, it can also contain texts as well.
6. Select and Transform
The select and transform tools are particularly used to move specific parts within the layer. Here’s how each of the tools actually works:
A. Selection Tool
From the top of the screen, tap on the ‘S’ symbol to activate the selection tool. You will get a few options including Freehand, Automatic, Ellipse, and Rectangle. For better understanding, consider picking Freehand and selecting a particular part of your drawing.
Once you have tracked the outlines of any object, you can see broken lines around the same. With Automatic, the outlines are created on their own.
B. Transform Tool
Now that you have selected your object, you can transform it based on your preference. Right beside the selection tool, tap on the arrow. This would give you the options to move, resize and distort your object.
Four new options will appear including uniform, freehand, distort, and warp. As long as you don’t pick ‘warp’, you can easily move your selection.
Note: Using the Distort and Warp option, your selection will change in shape and angle.
7. Insert Photos and Add Texts to Your Artwork
In case you want to add a photo or simply use one as a reference, you can easily insert photos in your workspace. Open the Actions menu by tapping on the ‘wrench’ icon right beside your Gallery. Select ‘Add’ and tap on ‘Insert photo’ to pick any file from your gallery.
8. Crop and Resize Your Artwork
You can also resize your canvas even after completing your artwork. Go to the Actions menu > Canvas > Crop & Resize. Simply drag the canvas edges outward to enlarge your drawing, or inward to crop it. Once finished, tap on ‘Done’.
9. Export Your Work
Congratulations on completing your first digital artwork on Procreate. Not to mention, this is going to be one of the many masterpieces you would create over time. Now, to export your artwork, go to the Action menu and tap on ‘Share.’ You can select the file type for which you want to export your work and save it on your iPad.
10. Share a Time-Lapse of Your Work
Now that you have completed your masterpiece, Procreate allows you to record the entire process and create a time-lapse for the artwork. While you can toggle the feature on/off, it can definitely come in handy at times.
With Procreate you can export the time-lapse recordings and use any video editing software and share it among your social media handles. Go to the Action menu and tap on ‘Video’ and select ‘Export time-lapse video.’ You can either export the full-length video or pick a 30-second version.
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Learn Procreate in No Time
That’s it for the article. While Procreate comes with a learning curve, it is not the hardest program to master. While starting out, you might feel overwhelmed at times, but using the right resources would certainly guide you in the right direction.
Though I will keep sharing my experiences with Procreate in my upcoming articles, you can also learn from YouTube videos, Procreate Handbook, Procreate Masterclass and joining the related communities on Social Media.