A Beginner’s Guide to Procreate

A Beginner’s Guide to Procreate main article image
Posted on October 14, 2021 by Becky Liddle
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Do you want to get started creating amazing digital art, or are you looking for some tips to help you on your way with Procreate? If so, keep reading for a beginner’s guide to Procreate! Below we’ve put together some of the most commonly asked questions about the app, and some handy tips and tricks for getting started, and how to use Procreate on iPad.

Contents

Getting Started

  • What is Procreate?
  • I’m a beginner, can I use Procreate?
  • What do I need to get started with Procreate?
  • How much does Procreate cost?
  • What’s the best iPad for Procreate?
  • Do you need an Apple pencil for procreate?

Procreate 101: Gestures, Essential Tools and Interface
Gestures

  • Procreate’s Interface
  • Gallery Screen
  • Creating a New Canvas
  • Quick Menu and Drawing Interface
  • Further Reading

What is Procreate?

Procreate is a program created for iPad, designed for professional creators and digital artists. It has many great features which means that we can create some fantastic works of art, right there in our hands. Whether you’re a professional artist, or a hobby creative, Procreate is sure to have something for you.

I’m a beginner, can I use Procreate?

Absolutely! Anyone can learn to use Procreate and make beautiful works of digital art. The program may seem daunting at first due to its many features, however, once you get started and learn how each function works, it all comes together and you really can get the most out of it. Keep reading this article for some Procreate for beginners basics, and check out this video for a quick roundup of some essential hints and tips.

What do I need to get started with Procreate?

All you’ll need is an iPad and some form of digital stylus or Apple pencil, alongside downloading the Procreate app itself. You also need a passion for creativity and be willing to learn a whole host of digital art techniques in order to get the most out of it. You really don’t need much equipment to start drawing and creating amazing works of art!

How much does Procreate cost?

Procreate is an absolute steal for the extensive features it holds. You can download it from the App Store for a great price of $9.99. This is a one-off price, and there are no hidden costs or monthly subscriptions. It’s an incredibly good buy and is a lot cheaper than other graphic design programs for your digital drawing.

What’s the best iPad for Procreate?

The app is available on any iPad, and you will be perfectly fine on whichever model you have, however, it is generally easier on larger devices. Personally, I have a standard-size iPad and I use Procreate as a hobby. Some professional digital artists have the iPad Pro which has a larger screen, which means you can zoom in further and generally have a bigger viewable canvas. All in all, any iPad is suitable, even the iPad mini – however, a regular-sized iPad or the iPad Pro would be easier.

Unfortunately Procreate is only available on Apple devices, so if your tablet is an Android or other model, the app is not available. Hopefully, in the future, this will change!

Do you need an Apple pencil for Procreate?

Not at all! You do need a digital stylus or drawing pencil, however, an Apple Pencil is not a requirement. The main difference with an Apple Pencil and other brands is that there is a pressure sensor that you can use to create thinner or thicker lines in Procreate. That said, this really isn’t a dead set requirement, there are many other options on the market that are cheaper than the Apple Pencil, such as the Adonit Dash which I use. I bought this when I first began using Procreate, – I honestly love this stylus, and the price is easier on the wallet than an Apple Pencil.

If you do have an Apple Pencil, it may be an advantage as a lot of professional digital artists use these, so some online tutorials are specific to the Apple Pencil. There are ways to work around this though and the differences aren’t dramatic, so you would truly be more than fine with a different brand stylus!

If you have any technical queries on your iPad model or issues with the app itself, check out Procreate’s FAQ and support pages. If your question isn’t answered here, get in touch in the comments and we’ll do our best to help.

Procreate 101: Gestures, Essential Tools and Interface

There are so many settings on Procreate, some of them are quite advanced and you need to master the basics first. In this article, we’ll go through some high-level Procreate tips and how to use the app.

Gestures

In Procreate, a “gesture” is a shortcut you can use which is quicker than going through the tools or menus. Once you get used to the programme, these can really be a lifesaver!

Below is a full list of shortcuts & gestures for Procreate. They may take a little getting used to, but they are really handy once you master them – a little finger tap is way quicker than going into a menu! We’d advise saving or writing down the below until you can remember them.

Zoom in
Pinch two fingers outwards, the same way you’d zoom into a photograph on your tablet or mobile phone

Zoom out
Pinch two fingers inwards, the opposite to zooming in

Rotate your canvas
Twist the canvas with two fingers

Undo
Tap the screen with two fingers

Redo
Tap the screen with three fingers

Continuous undo
Tap and hold on the screen with two fingers

Continuous redo
Hold down on the screen with three fingers

Colour eye dropper
Tap and hold one finger on your desired colour

Erase layer
Wiggle three fingers on the screen

Full-screen mode
Tap with four fingers

Make your canvas the regular size
Pinch two fingers closed

See the copy-paste menu
Swipe downwards with three fingers

Those listed above are default presets in Procreate. If you want to edit or customise these you can do this by going to the settings tool and selecting prefs and then gesture controls.

Editing Procreate gesture controls.

Editing Procreate gesture controls.

Procreate’s Interface

There are quite a lot of different options within Procreate’s main interface. In this section, we’ll go through a few of the settings and what’s included in each menu.

Gallery Screen

Once you’ve downloaded Procreate and opened the app, the first screen you’ll see is your gallery. This will contain all works of art that you’ve created.

You can tap on any one of them to go into the artwork and edit. If you swipe left on one of the gallery icons, you’ll see a menu that lists share, duplicate, and delete.

Procreate's gallery screen.

By tapping on share, you can export the canvas to various different file types, including Photoshop and JPEG or PNG.

Exporting your artwork out of Procreate.

Selecting a file type to export from Procreate.

You’ll most likely want to save your work as an image, so to do this select either JPEG or PNG from the pop-up menu. You’ll then see the share menu appear on your iPad.

Exporting artwork in Procreate.

Tap on save image and then it should arrive in your camera roll.

Note: the options you see may vary slightly depending on what apps you have downloaded on your iPad, however the option to save an image should always be there.

Creating a New Canvas

To create a new canvas, tap the + symbol in the top right-hand corner.

Creating a new canvas in Procreate.

You can then select which size canvas to use, I generally just go for screen size. You can always crop this later if you need to.

Selecting a canvas size in Procreate.

Quick Menu and Drawing Interface

This is your main Procreate interface where everything happens. Let’s take a look at some of the essential features.

To the left of your canvas, you’ll see two sliders. The top one is the brush size, slide it up to create a larger brush, and the bottom one is opacity – these two sliders will be your most used tool on Procreate.

Brush size and opacity sliders in Procreate.

Now, along the top of the screen on the left, you’ll see four icons, which are:

Actionsbutton which looks like a spanner
Adjustmentsbutton which looks like a magic wand
Transformbutton which looks like a ribbon
Selectbutton which looks like a cursor

All of these menus have some useful settings inside, but let’s take a look at the most commonly used ones.

Tap the actions menu, and you’ll see a sub-menu across the top. Ensuring add is highlighted, you will see a list of options. This list contains frequent actions such as inserting text and images.

The add menu in Procreate.

Also within the actions menu, tap on canvas. In this section, you can rotate, flip, crop, and resize your canvas.

Canvas options in Procreate.

The next button is the adjustments (or magic wand) tool. Tap into this to see some effects which can be applied to your artwork. This menu is a little advanced, so you may want to master some basics before using these options, however, the image adjustments and blurring tools in this menu are extremely useful.

Adjustments menu in Procreate.

Next, we have the transform menu. In here we can add shapes, this one is pretty much what it says on the tin!

Transform menu in Procreate.

The last button in this menu is the selection tool. This is an option that you’ll use frequently as it’s how we move our elements. Tap on this button and then a box should appear around your work. You can then drag it to a new position or use the menu along the bottom of the screen to rotate or resize.

Selection tool in Procreate.

For an in-depth look at some of the Procreate tools, check out this page from the app’s official handbook.

To the right-hand side of your canvas are five more buttons, these are:

Brush tool
Smudge tool
Eraser tool
Layers panel
Colour palette

Procreate interface menu.

If you tap on the brush tool, you’ll see the brush library appear. Procreate has some really great preset brushes for all different projects. Tap on each title along the left-hand side to see each section and the brushes available for you to use to draw in Procreate.

Procreate brush library.

You can also tap on the brush itself to adjust more settings. For a more in-depth look at Procreate’s brush library, check out this article or if you want to download extra Procreate brushes, check out Creative Fabrica’s great range here.

Brush studio in Procreate.

The next button is the smudge tool, this is really great for blending colours together. Again, you can change your brush size, opacity, or brush type.

Smudge tool in Procreate.

Using the smudge tool in Procreate.

Next is the eraser tool, if you tap into this setting, you can change the brush you want to use as the eraser which is super handy!

Procreate's eraser tool.

Our next button, which looks like two squares, opens the layers panel. You’ll be using this menu a lot as it’s where we can rearrange and add layers.

To add a new layer, tap the + in the corner.

Procreate's layers panel.

To rearrange layers, hold down and drag the layer into a new position.

For more info on how to use Procreate layers and all of the applicable settings, check out the official Procreate Handbook.

There are also some really great ways in which you can use layers, such as creating layer masks, clipping masks, and using alpha lock. These techniques are a little advanced, so we’d advise that you get the hang of the basics, and then check out this post on how to use clipping masks or this one for a general guide to Procreate’s masking techniques and the differences between them.

The last button on this menu is the colour tool. Tap on this to select a colour.

Procreate's colour tool.

You’ll also see options along the bottom which offer different views of the colours, take some time to experiment with these and get used to the different settings.

You can also quickly fill an element on your canvas by holding down on the colour circle, and dragging it into the area you wish to fill.

For an in-depth view of Procreate’s colour tools, check out this article and click here to take a look at some of Creative Fabrica’s best colour palettes available for download.

Further Reading

There are hundreds of really great Procreate tutorials online and endless resources offering handy Procreate tips, we’d recommend checking out the below links to enhance your knowledge and gain a more in-depth view of the app and all of its tools.

This video by Emma Jane Lefebvre is a great watch if you have some time to spare, and walks you through the process of getting started with Procreate.

For a hand-picked selection of some of the best free Procreate tutorials online, check out this article.

To download elements to use in your artwork, take a look at Creative Fabrica’s selection here.

Alongside these resources, Procreate’s official website has great walk-throughs and guides to all of the app’s features.

We hope you enjoyed this guide to getting started in Procreate, if you have any questions or issues please drop us a note in the comments and we’ll try our best to help.


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