Procreate Basics Overview: How to Start Digital Drawing Today

Procreate is a pivotal tool for artists venturing into the digital realm, offering an intuitive platform to bring creations to life. This article aims to equip you with a foundational grasp of Procreate’s essentials, ensuring a smooth transition into digital drawing. 

You’ll uncover the core techniques to kickstart your digital art journey today. As a digital artist, mastering these basics is crucial for your artistic evolution.


Getting Started with Procreate

This section will guide you through the initial steps: downloading and navigating Procreate’s interface. Gain confidence as you learn to navigate this powerful app. Let’s transform your digital art aspirations into reality, starting now.

Download and Setup 

To begin, install Procreate from the App Store onto your iPad. Ensure your device meets the app’s requirements for a smooth experience. 

Once installed, open Procreate, and you’ll be greeted with the gallery view; this is where your art collection will grow. Tap the “+” icon to start a new canvas and embark on your digital art journey.


Understanding the Interface

Procreate’s interface is user-friendly and customizable. The top toolbar houses essential tools like brushes, smudging, and erasing. 

The right side of the screen allows you to control brush size and opacity on the fly. Meanwhile, the Layers Panel on the left helps you manage the various elements of your artwork.

Core Procreate Tools: Your Digital Palette

Learn to select and tailor these tools to match your artistic vision. These foundational elements are where your style comes to life. Master these, and you’re well on your way to creating outstanding art.


Brush Mastery 

Procreate offers a vast library of brushes for every texture and stroke. Experiment with different brush types to find your favorites. 

Brushes can be customized in size, opacity, and behavior to suit your technique. Remember, the right brush can transform a simple line into a stroke of genius.

Layering Like a Pro 

Layers are powerful, allowing you to separate different elements of your artwork. You can reorder, merge, or adjust layers’ opacity to enhance your composition. 

Use layers to experiment without altering the underlying work. They’re your safety net, so you can try new things without stress.

Choosing and Using Colors 

The Color Wheel is your playground for selecting and applying colors. Create custom color palettes for consistent theming across your artwork. 

The Eyedropper tool lets you pick colors directly from your canvas. Use Procreate’s color harmony tools to find complementary shades and enhance your art’s aesthetic.

Fundamental Drawing Techniques with Procreate

Grasp the essentials of Procreate’s drawing methods. Here, you’ll learn the foundation: sketching, line art, and shading. These skills form the backbone of your digital artwork. Let’s refine these skills to enhance your digital drawings.

Sketching Foundations 

Start with a light sketch to outline your ideas. Use a soft brush to create loose shapes and define your drawing’s composition. 

Don’t press too hard; light strokes make it easier to make changes. Think of sketching as laying down the groundwork for your masterpiece.

Line Art and Inking 

Line art is where your sketch gains clarity and precision. Choose a firm brush to define your drawing with clean lines. 

Adjust the pressure sensitivity for variable line thickness. This step transforms your sketch into a defined illustration ready for color.

Shading and Textures 

Shading adds dimension and depth to your art. Use a combination of soft and textured brushes to simulate light and shadow. 

Experiment with layer opacity to get the perfect shade. Proper shading techniques bring your images to life with a realistic touch.

Leveraging Procreate’s Advanced Features

Unlock Procreate’s potential with its advanced tools. You’ll learn to smudge, erase with precision, create custom brushes, and use masks for complex edits. These features give you control over fine details. Advance your skills to transform your digital art.

Smudge and Erase 

The Smudge tool blends colors for a smooth transition. Use the Eraser to clean up edges or create negative space. 

Adjust these tools’ settings to match the desired effect. Both tools are essential for refining your artwork to perfection.

Creating Custom Brushes 

Custom brushes give you unique textures and effects. You can tailor brushes to mimic traditional media or create something entirely new. 

Experiment with settings like grain, shape, and dynamics. Custom brushes are a game-changer for personalizing your art style.

Mastering Masks 

Use masks to make non-destructive edits to layers. Clipping masks let you apply changes to a single layer, while layer masks hide parts of a layer for complex compositions. 

They’re vital for editing without altering the original layer. Mastering masks equates to greater creativity and flexibility.

Streamlining Your Workflow in Procreate

Streamline your drawing process with shortcuts and gestures in Procreate. They save time, making your workflow more efficient. Let’s learn to navigate your canvas and tools with simple moves. Make these gestures second nature to speed up your creation process.

Essential Gestures for Efficiency 

Before you dive into drawing, knowing these gestures will keep your workflow smooth:

  • Tap with two fingers to undo three fingers to redo.
  • Pinch to zoom in and out of your canvas.
  • Swipe with three fingers to clear a layer or access the copy-and-paste menu.
  • Hold the color picker to lift a color from the canvas.

These gestures will make navigating Procreate more intuitive and your drawing time more productive.

Customizable Quick Menu 

Procreate’s Quick Menu can be customized with your frequently used actions. Activate it by tapping with your thumb and two fingers. 

Choose which tools and features appear for easy access. Tailoring the Quick Menu to your needs will keep your favorite actions at your fingertips, saving you time.

Beginning with Basic Procreate Projects

These projects are designed to apply the basics without overwhelming you. They’re stepping stones to more complex artworks. Let’s kick off your digital art portfolio with projects that build confidence and ability.

Simple Projects for Beginners

Choose projects that align with your current skill level to avoid frustration. Start with basic shapes and compositions to familiarize yourself with Procreate’s tools. 

Create variations of these simple projects to explore different techniques. These initial creations paved the way for more advanced artwork.

Step-by-Step Creation Process 

A structured approach to your projects helps to manage complexity:

  • Start with a rough sketch to outline your idea.
  • Move on to refining the sketch, adding details and corrections.
  • Apply base colors, considering light and shadow.
  • Finalize your artwork with textures, details, and additional effects.

By following these steps, you build a project piece by piece, ensuring each element receives the attention it deserves.

Procreate Learning Resources Unpacked

We’ll cover the official Procreate Handbook and where to find quality tutorials. These resources are tailored to help you grow as a digital artist. Your learning journey starts here with the best tools at your disposal.

The Official Procreate Handbook 

The Official Procreate Handbook is your comprehensive guide to all things Procreate. It’s free and available directly within the app under the ‘Help’ section. 

This handbook is regularly updated to reflect the latest features. It’s an invaluable resource for understanding the depths of Procreate.

Online Tutorials and Classes

Online resources are plentiful and can cater to your specific learning style:

  • Free video tutorials are available on platforms like YouTube, offering a range of lessons from basics to advanced techniques.
  • Paid online classes from sites like Skillshare or Udemy provide structured learning paths.
  • Procreate’s official forums and community offer a space for asking questions and sharing knowledge.
  • Social media groups dedicated to Procreate users are great for tips, tricks, and feedback.

Conclusion: Your Digital Art Journey with Procreate

Embarking on your digital art journey, Procreate is a powerful ally, equipped with intuitive tools and a user-friendly interface. From mastering basic sketches to utilizing advanced features, this overview provides a solid foundation to enhance your artistic skills. 

Continue to leverage online resources and communities for ongoing learning and inspiration. Embrace the creativity that Procreate unlocks, and start transforming your digital canvas today.