Beginner’s Guide: Starting Your Digital Art Journey in Procreate

Software & Applications

Procreate has rapidly become a go-to digital drawing app for artists ranging from beginners to professionals, offering a robust platform on the iPad for art creation. Known for its intuitive interface and extensive capabilities, this art software for beginners allows users to unleash their creativity with the help of tools like the Apple Pencil. By integrating advanced features with user-friendly controls, Procreate stands out as a premier choice among creative software options. Whether you’re sketching, painting, or designing, Procreate provides a comprehensive suite of tools that cater to a wide array of artistic needs.

Setting Up Procreate

To begin your journey in digital art with Procreate, first ensure your iPad is compatible with the app. Start by opening the App Store on your device. In the search bar, type “Procreate” and select the app from the search results. The details page will display information about the app including price and compatibility.

To purchase Procreate, tap the price button, which will then change to a ‘Buy’ button. You will need to enter your Apple ID credentials if not already logged in. After authentication, the purchase will be processed, and the ‘Buy’ button will change to ‘Install.’ Tap ‘Install’ to begin downloading Procreate to your iPad.

Once the installation is complete, you can find Procreate on your home screen. Tap the icon to open the app and start setting up your digital art workspace. The installation process is straightforward, allowing you to quickly move to creating your first artwork with Procreate.

Optimizing iPad Settings for Procreate

To ensure a smooth Procreate experience, it is essential to set up Procreate correctly from the start. First, adjust your iPad’s display settings. Setting the brightness to a comfortable level reduces eye strain during extended drawing sessions. Also, consider modifying the screen refresh rate. A higher refresh rate can make drawing motions appear smoother, which is critical when working on intricate art projects.

Next, optimize the gesture controls specific to Procreate. Enable multitasking gestures in the iPad’s settings to streamline your workflow and switch between apps effortlessly. This is particularly useful when referencing images or tutorials without disrupting your creative process.

For artists using Procreate, customizing these iPad settings enhances the app’s performance and your overall drawing experience. Adjust these settings before beginning a project to save time and improve the quality of your digital art creations.

Understanding the Procreate Interface

Mastering the Procreate interface is the first step to effectively utilizing this powerful app for digital art creation. The interface includes a main menu, toolbar, and layers panel, each designed to optimize your workflow on the digital canvas.

The main menu in Procreate offers quick access to essential features such as the gallery view and settings, providing a centralized hub for your project management needs. The toolbar, positioned at the top of your screen, is your go-to resource for selecting tools. It houses the brush library, which offers a diverse selection of brushes for various artistic needs, and the color palette, where you can customize and choose colors with precision.

The layers panel is a critical component of digital canvas management in Procreate. It allows for intricate control over each element of your artwork. This panel lets you add, adjust, and merge layers, significantly expanding creative possibilities and making complex compositions manageable.

Additionally, the actions menu, accessible from the top left corner of the interface, includes options for canvas settings, sharing, and other utilities that support your art creation process. Understanding these aspects of the Procreate dashboard will streamline your digital art creation, making the process more intuitive and effective.

Customizing the Toolbar

To optimize your digital painting experience, personalizing the Procreate toolbar is essential. Tailoring your toolbar by adding, removing, and rearranging tools ensures a workflow that suits your unique artistic approach. This customization allows you to access the most used features quickly, streamlining your creative process.

Start by exploring the toolbar customization options within Procreate, where you can integrate custom brushes alongside default brushes, reflecting your frequent needs. The toolbar setup not only saves time but also keeps essential tools at your fingertips, making your art sessions more efficient.

Utilize the quick menu feature to establish shortcuts, enabling immediate access to your most utilized actions with a simple tap. This setup minimizes disruptions in your creative flow, allowing for a smoother transition between tools and actions.

By personalizing the interface, you not only create a space that feels intuitively yours but also significantly improve the efficiency of your artistic production. Adjusting your Procreate toolbar setup can transform your digital canvas into an extension of your creative mind.

First Steps in Drawing

Starting your journey in Procreate begins with creating a new canvas. Choose the canvas size that fits your project needs; most beginners might find a medium-sized canvas approachable. Next, familiarize yourself with the basic brushes available in Procreate. Brushes like the ‘Hard Airbrush’ and ‘Nikko Rull’ are excellent for initial sketches.

Once you have your canvas ready, start by sketching simple shapes to get a feel for the digital drawing process. Use light strokes to map out your ideas, adjusting brush sizes and opacity to enhance your control. This stage is about getting comfortable with the Procreate interface and its drawing capabilities.

After sketching, move to inking. Select a finer brush, such as the ‘Studio Pen’ or ‘Technical Pen’, to define your drawings with clean, precise lines. This step transforms your sketches into clearer, more defined drawings.

The next phase involves coloring. Choose a basic palette and begin applying colors using the ‘Soft Brush’ for larger areas and ‘Medium Hard Brush’ for smaller details. Layer your colors to create depth, and use the layering feature in Procreate to keep your work organized.

Throughout this process, experiment with different drawing techniques. Adjust pressure sensitivity to see how it affects line thickness and texture. This exploration will help you develop a personal style and better understand the tools at your disposal in Procreate.

By following these steps—creating a canvas, sketching, inking, and coloring—you’ll build a solid foundation in digital art using Procreate. These basic techniques are crucial for developing your skills and confidence in this versatile digital art application.

Layer Management Basics

Mastering layer management is fundamental when starting to use Procreate for digital art. Layers function like individual sheets of transparent paper stacked on one another, allowing for non-destructive edits. Beginners should focus on understanding how to create and name layers to maintain organization throughout the creative process.

Creating a new layer in Procreate is simple and aids in separating different elements of your artwork, which can be crucial when making adjustments or applying effects. To add a layer, tap the “+” icon in the layers panel. Renaming each layer according to its content or role in the composition will help you keep track of your artwork’s structure.

Managing layer visibility is an essential skill. By toggling the visibility icon—a small checkbox next to the layer—you can hide or show layers to compare changes without permanently altering your work. Understanding opacity settings is also critical; adjusting a layer’s opacity will affect how it blends with layers below it, offering a versatile way to fine-tune your art.

Blending modes in Procreate are powerful tools that dictate how layers interact. Familiarize yourself with common modes like Multiply (for shadows) or Overlay (for light effects) to enhance the dimensional quality of your work. Experimenting with these can dramatically alter the mood and depth of your artwork.

Lastly, efficient layer management involves merging layers when necessary to reduce clutter and save on processing resources. To merge layers, pinch them together in the layers panel, or tap a layer and select “Merge Down.” Remember, merging is permanent, so ensure the layers are set exactly as you want them before combining.

By mastering these layer techniques in Procreate, you can maintain an organized workflow that supports more complex projects and artistic growth.

Tips and Tricks for New Users

Mastering Procreate requires knowledge of its features and shortcuts, which can significantly streamline your creative process. Here are some practical Procreate tips and tricks that every beginner should know.

Utilize Gestures and Shortcuts Efficiently: Procreate’s interface is gesture-rich, allowing for a smoother workflow. Familiarize yourself with pinch gestures to zoom in and out quickly, and a two-finger tap to undo a step. Learning these shortcuts early on will save you time and improve your efficiency.

Avoid Common Pitfalls: A frequent mistake beginners make is overusing layers without understanding their functionality. Use layers wisely; excessive layers can make your file size unnecessarily large and slow down the app. Also, be cautious with the digital brush size; larger brushes can reduce the precision in your artwork.

Master the Undo Feature: Procreate’s undo gesture (two-finger tap) is a game-changer, enabling you to easily correct mistakes. This can be particularly useful when experimenting with new techniques or effects.

Leverage QuickLine and QuickShape for Precision: These features are invaluable for creating precise lines and shapes. Draw a line and hold your pencil in place to activate QuickLine, or start forming a geometric shape and hold to snap it into a perfect QuickShape. This method is ideal for technical drawings or when exactitude is required.

Use Reference Layers for Accurate Coloring: The Reference Layer feature is crucial when you need to color separate parts of a drawing without going outside the lines. Set one layer as a Reference Layer, and Procreate will recognize boundaries on that layer even when you’re applying color on a different one. This keeps your coloring clean and within desired limits.

By integrating these Procreate tips and tricks into your routine, you’ll notice a marked improvement in both the quality of your digital art and your overall comfort with the app. Practice regularly, and don’t hesitate to experiment with all the features Procreate offers to fully realize your artistic potential.


Begin your artistic journey in Procreate by immersing yourself in continuous learning and frequent experimentation. Take advantage of the abundant learning resources available, from online tutorials to detailed guides, all designed to aid your advancement in digital art. Engage with the Procreate community through creative forums where ideas and techniques are freely exchanged among both novices and experts. Each art project you undertake enriches your skills and broadens your creative horizons. Stay connected and active within the art community; your participation fuels both personal growth and collective innovation in digital artistry. Keep pushing the boundaries of your creativity as you progress in Procreate, always looking forward to what you can achieve next.