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Beginner’s Quickstart Guide to Procreate

Are you new to Procreate? Maybe you’ve run into it a few times when searching out info on making stickers or creating your own characters or illustrations. This post is going to give you the basics of what Procreate is, answer questions like who it’s for, what you need to know, and how you might use it. Then, at the bottom of this post you’ll get a Beginner’s Quickstart Guide to Procreate.

Start Smart Project Day 2

As a fun freebie for the Start Smart Giveaway Event, I made these temporary tattoos in Procreate. I used the Silhouette Tattoo Paper, and the Tattoo Paper setting in Cricut Design Space. But I did have to repeat the cut once. You can find the freebie in my Free Library along with all the other freebies I share in the post below! To subscribe and get the password, you can enter the giveaway or use the sign-up form in the sidebar. ❤️

I’ll get a post up next week with a step-by-step for how to do the tattoos, but in the meantime, you can check out my friend Jen’s tutorial, How to Make Fake Tattoos that Look Realistic (and Fool Your Friends).

Answers to your Most-Asked Questions About Procreate

What is Procreate?

Procreate is an iPad-only drawing app for digital art. Although, it’s used by professional artists, what makes Procreate so popular is how easy it is for anyone to use. Anyone, of almost any age, with any background, can create with Procreate. This is huge, because it means you don’t have to be a graphic designer with a pro graphic design program like Adobe Illustrator to make your own designs to craft with.

How Much Does Procreate Dost? And Are There In-App Purchases?

Procreate for iPad is usually $9.99 in the Apple App Store, and Procreate Pocket Edition is usually $4.99. There are no in-app purchases, and updates are always free. And although Procreate does not sell them, you can purchase additional brush sets, stamp sets, paper textures, and palettes from places like Etsy, Design Bundles, Design Cuts, and more.

What’s the Best iPad for Procreate?

I have an entire post that answers this question! My husband, the techy, wrote it and I chimed in with my opinion as well. He did a great job at explaining what to look for in an iPad, which iPads are compatible with Procreate, and what kinds of accessories will make your Procreate experience even better. You can read this article, The Best iPads for Procreate here.

Do You Need an Apple Pencil to Use Procreate?

No! You can use Procreate with just a finger. However, if you’d like the best experience, using a stylus really makes drawing in Procreate feel much more natural. You can also use a third-party stylus. However, Procreate was designed to work with the Apple Pencil and has features built around the capabilities of the Apple Pencil.

Can I Make SVG Designs with Procreate?

No…. and yes. Procreate is a raster-based program which means it creates with pixels, not vectors. However, you can use an online image converter to trace your PNG designs and create SVG designs from them.

What is a Raster vs. Vector Design?

Raster programs are used for digital painting, animation, and photography. Most print and cut or sublimation designs are made with a raster program like Procreate and are in a file format like PNG, JPEG, JPG, TIFF, PSD, or PDF.

Vector programs create with shapes made of connected nodes. This allows you to make a design bigger or smaller without losing any quality. Vectors like SVG’s are what design programs like the Cricut Design Space, or SIlhouette Cameo use most often for their cut designs. In addition to SVG, other popular vector file formats are DXF, AI, EPS.

What Can You Make with Procreate?

SO Many Things!!! I actually have a post with 23 Projects You Can Make with Procreate + Cricut. This starts the list off, but when you consider how easy it is to create sublimation designs with Procreate, then you’ve opened up all the things you can make with Sublimation as well!

Do You Have to Be an Artist to Use Procreate?

Absolutely not! Because Procreate is a digital drawing app, it has all kinds of features that make creating when you’re not an artist sooo much easier. For instance, you can import a photo reference and trace it.

Then on another layer, you can color it.

Have trouble drawing a straight line? Who doesn’t? In Procreate, you can use QuickShape to make straight lines, perfect circles, and absolutely square- squares.

Want to undo? It’s a two-finger tap, and to redo it’s a three-finger tap. There are SO many built-in benefits to using a digital drawing program that you’ll find you’re a much better artist on the iPad than you are with a standard piece of paper and a pencil.

How Do You Learn the Gestures Procreate Artists Always Use?

This is a question I’m asked fairly frequently and by special request, I created a free printable cheat sheet of the gestures you’ll use most often in Procreate. I also explain what all of these are, as well as what they do in my post, The Best Procreate Shortcuts for Beginners to Know.

Cheat Sheet for Procreate Gestures
Download this Free Cheat Sheet for Common Gestures in Procreate

Can You Use Cricut Design Space with Procreate?

Yes! They play great together. And I have an entire post and YouTube video that will walk you through How to Upload your Procreate designs into Cricut Design Space. I even created a printable checklist that you can keep handy as you try it.

Checklist with Stickers for Uploading Procreate Art into Cricut Design Space

How Do You Get Started with Procreate?

I’m so glad you asked! Although there are a TON of YouTube videos on using Procreate, as well as a lot of really amazing Skillshare instructors, you can find many beginners Procreate tutorials right here on Well Crafted Studio as well as on my YouTube Channel.

The difference is, that I SUPER focus in on using Procreate to create designs to craft with. Making sublimation designs so you can create your own mugs or t-shirts, creating cards or stickers, or even making layered designs for shadowboxes.

You can also join my Procreate for Cricut + Silhouette Creators Facebook Group and watch my weekly Facebook Live. I’m super active in the group so feel free to tag me in it with your questions!

Beginner’s Quickstart Guide to Using Procreate

1. Open a New Canvas and Learn to Rotate it and Zoom

To begin, when you first open Procreate, you’ll find yourself on the Gallery Page. In the top right corner of this page, you’ll see a + sign. Tap that to open up the canvas options.

Open a new canvas in Procreate Gallery
Ignore all the extra canvas options for now- those were all added as custom canvases by me.

Choose the Screen Size option at the top. When you tap it, that opens up the canvas. And you’re ready to create!

To move the canvas around, or make it larger or smaller use two fingers on the screen.

To rotate the canvas- With the two fingers on the screen, turn your wrist.

To make the canvas smaller- put two fingers on your screen and pinch them towards each other. (This creates a “zoom-out” effect.)

To make the canvas bigger- put two fingers on the screen and push them apart. (This will create the “zoom-in” effect.)

2. Learn What Tools and Feature Panels You Have on the Canvas

Familiarizing yourself with the canvas helps a ton, both by touching each icon in the top toolbar, and then playing with the menu options that appear. But before you do that, check out the rest of this tutorial.

To begin, you’ll notice the canvas has two primary features- a large toolbar across the top, and a sliding panel (called the Procreate interface) along the side.

Procreate Interface (Size and Opacity Slider)

This has a slider to adjust the size of the brushes on the top and an opacity slider on the bottom, which adjusts how see-through a brush is.

Between the two sliders is a square that you can use as an eyedropper to choose a color. That’s super cool and I’ll explain more about that later.

Brush size + Opacity Can Be Controlled From the Side of the Canvas

At the bottom of the sliding interface, you’ll see a back arrow for undo. And a front arrow for a redo. You can also use gestures to create these same actions.

Toolbar at the Top of the Canvas

Gallery- This takes you back to the Main Gallery Page where all your projects are stored as thumbnails

Wrench- This is your Actions menu where you’ll see a drop-down menu that has several possible options for you to explore. I use the Add and Share options most frequently.

Popular actions under the wrench toolbar
These are popular actions you’ll find in the Actions Panel

Magic Wand- This is Image Adjustments like Hue, Saturation, and Brightness. As well as fun tools like the Gaussian Blur, Gradient Map, Liquify, and Clone.

popular image adjustments under the Magic Wand
Popular Image Adjustments to Play With

I show you step-by-step how to use the Gaussian Blur and the Brightness to make borders for your stickers in my How to Make Borders for Your Stickers Super Fast video on my Well Crafted Studio YouTube Channel.

Selection Tool (Ribbon Icon)- This tool has a pop-up panel that gives you options for selecting like selecting automatically, or with a lasso tool. In order to use the Transform (move) tool, you need to have something selected first.

Popular Selection Panel Tools in Procreat
When You Touch the Ribbon Icon the Selection Panel will Show Up at the Bottom of Your Screen

Transform/Move Tool (Arrow Icon)- With this tool you can move whatever you want, anywhere on the screen. You can also use this to change the constraints of the selection by touching the Freeform option or keep it on Uniform to change the size but not the shape.

The Transform Panel Opens at the Bottom of Your Canvas in Procreate

Or you could use the Distort to add some tilt to your design, or the Warp to curve parts of. your design. These tools also work with any text you add to the design.

Brush Tool- Touching this opens up the Brush Library. This is where you change the type of brush that you have. More on that in the next step!

3. Open Up the Brush Library and Choose a Pencil Brush

To find all your brushes, just tap the brush.

About Brushes- If you’re brand new to digital art, the brushes have different shapes that mimic different types of media like gel pens, charcoal, dry acrylic paint swipes, glitter, marker etc.

But you can also have brushes that mimic stamps and can be images. These make using Procreate fun and easy for non-artists!

Some of Free 80’s Sticker Stamp Set You Can Download from my Library

Note: Procreate comes with a TON of free brushes that are native to the app. But you can also purchase and import custom brushes from other sources.

Get FREE Brush Sets in my Free Library- There are many free brushes right here in my Free Library, which you can get the password to when you become an email subscriber. To subscribe- just fill out the form in the sidebar. You’re totally welcome to unsubscribe at any time and keep the password.

4. Change the Size and Color of Your Brush

This is where that slider on the side of your canvas comes into play. You can see in the image below that I played around with the size slider AS I was drawing and it did some fun thick/thin effects.

To Change the Color of your Brush– Tap the circle of color in the very top right corner of your toolbar. This brings up the Color Panel. You’ll notice the disc right away. This disc lets you choose the hue on the outer ring, and in the center you can choose the shade or value of that hue.

This makes choosing highlights and lowlights of any color easy- which makes your shading look super natural without you even trying.

About Palettes- I won’t get into this a ton, but if you look under the Color Disc you’ll see a space for little swatches of color. This collection of colors is called a palette.

And if you tap on the Palette option along the bottom of the panel you’ll open up a Palette Library of several palette options. And much like the Brush Library you can create your own palettes, or import pre-made palettes. There is much more you can do with color in Procreate.

5. Start Drawing!

Now that you have a brush and a color selected, let’s draw! To change the brush, simply tap the brush again and choose a new brush. To undo, use the back arrow on the side slider, or you can use the two-finger tap on your screen.

Choosing a Brush from the Brush Library in Procreate

To erase, tap the eraser icon next to the finger smudge in the top toolbar. The eraser is a brush that removes. So to get crisp, clean erasing make sure that your eraser brush is set to a brush like the hard airbrush, or the Sticker Background Brush that I have as a free download in my Free Library.

6. Learn to Use QuickShape

QuickShape is one of the best things about Procreate. It allows you to make a perfectly straight line, or a perfectly round shape in seconds. To activate QuickShape, simply draw your shape or line, and keep the tip of your stylus (or finger) on the screen for a second after you’re done. This will cause what you drew to snap into the QuickShape version of your mark.

To Edit QuickShape- You’ll see Edit Shape at the top of your screen. When you tap that, you’ll see that you have the option of telling it that you want your circle to be a circle and not an oval. You’ll also see blue dots “nodes” that you can move separately to change the shape of your QuickShape.

QuickShape can do lines, arches, squares, circles, rectangles, ellipses, triangles, parallelograms and more.

7. Make a New Layer

To make a new layer, tap the Layers icon in the top toolbar. This is the two over-lapping squares, and this opens the Layers Panel.

The Layers Panel just shows a single layer to begin with. When you tap the + symbol at the top, you’ll open up a new layer, Layer 2. Layers are stacked on top of each other, but you can switch around the order.

Too clear an entire layer, simply swipe left on that layer and you’ll see the clear option. Or, you can tap the layer to bring up a sidebar that also has the clear layer option.

8. Move the Layers Around

To change the order of layers, simply tap and hold on the Layer you want to move. It will kind of get smaller when it’s ready to move. Almost like you picked it up.

Then, without picking up the tip of your finger or stylus, move this layer above or below another layer in your list. When it’s where you want it, pick up the tip of your stylus to “drop” it into that position.

9. Color Under Your Sketch

Now that you’ve moved Layer 2 under Layer 1. You can change brushes and colors and paint under Layer 1. Then, simply uncheck Layer 1 to hide it, and you won’t see your sketch!

10. Add Text

Under the wrench icon in the top toolbar, you’ll see the Add option. When you tap this, you’ll see the Add Text. This opens up a text box as a new layer on your canvas. You can type your text in this box.

There is a Text Panel that lets you change the size, the font, the kerning, leading of your text, and more. I do have an entire Facebook Live on using and importing fonts in my Procreate for Cricut + Silhouette Facebook Group . In the Live I also show how to warp your text using options in the Transform Panel. It’s pretty fun!

11. Export Your Image

Under the wrench icon you’ll see the Share option. This gives you different file formats to export your canvas with.

I have an entire post and YouTube video that will walk you through how to export your image as a PNG with a transparent background, since this is the easiest way to bring your images into Cricut Design Space.

For sublimation, you can save it as a JPEG, or PDF and it takes up less space in your files then a PNG does.

But for now, a great tip is to know that if you uncheck the background in the Layers Panel you’ll make the background transparent.

12. Save Your Image

To save your image, I recommend saving to your iCloud Files or your Photo Gallery. I will frequently switch from my iPad to my desktop to use Cricut Design Space and keeping my images in Files makes it easy to grab them.

Beyond the Beginner’s QuickStart Guide to Procreate

Now that you’ve gone through this QuickStart Guide to Procreate here are some next steps-

  1. Download and print the Procreate Gestures Cheat Sheet from the Procreate section of my Free Library
  2. Download the How to Upload Procreate Designs into Cricut Design Space Checklist.
  3. Download the 80’s Stickers Stamp Set, the Birds and Blooms Stamp Set (and any of the others too)
  4. Get the Sticker Background Brush and the Ink Pen Brush
  5. Check out the Procreate category here on Well Crafted Studio to see what projects you might want to create
  6. Check out the Procreate playlist on my YouTube Channel
  7. Join the Procreate for Cricut + Silhouette Creators Facebook Group
  8. Watch the Facebook Live from December 14th in my Facebook Group. It’s a Beginner’s Video that goes over everything in this post and more! You can find it under the post topic Facebook Lives.
Download the Free Brushes, Stamps, Cheat Sheets, and Checklists from my Free Library!

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Thanks for Reading,

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