Seriously, this sticker-making hack is a game-changer for anyone who has ideas but doesn’t feel confident in their drawing skills. In fact, one of the best things about Procreate is that you don’t have to know how to draw to create your own sticker designs! It’s really a little magical. The other day a friend of mine literally gasped with amazement when I showed her this trick for drawing stickers. Ready for it? Here you go…how to trace photos to make stickers on Procreate.
In this Tutorial You’ll See…
- How to upload and trace photos
- The benefits of working on different layers
- How to get a hand-illustrated look by using different brushes to sketch and then paint your designs
- Use the color palette to get highlights and shadows
- A simple way to add the white cutting border
- How to use Procreate 5x to duplicate and make columns (for kiss cut sticker sheets)
- AND export the sticker designs to cut with a Cricut or Silhouette Cameo.
If you love stickers, and have ideas but don’t feel like you have the art skills to make them happen, then this sticker making hack will seem like magical sparkles and pixie dust making the impossible completely possible.
UPDATED for Procreate 5x- Plus a Quicker Way to Add a Border Around Your Stickers
In the video and tutorial below, I show you how to trace a photo to draw the stickers. In the second part of the tutorial, you’ll see how to add the white border by drawing around the image with my Free Sticker Border Brush. Since I first wrote this tutorial, I’ve found a better way of adding the border, and have a video of this on my YouTube channel.
I also changed the tutorial below to reflect the changes that the Procreate 5x update made in aligning your designs. For instance, creating rows and columns is MUCH simpler now with magnetics and snapping.
Free Procreate Brush for Sticker Making!
The cute pumpkin and maple leaf sticker sheet I designed in the video is a free download in my Freebie Creative Resource Library. I’d love to have you grab it! But I ALSO have a free Sticker Border Procreate brush in the Freebie Library as well. Originally, I made it for myself, so that I could create a more fluid border that also has a hard edge. You can use a hard airbrush instead. It’s just not quite as tweaked or streamlined so you can extra pixels on the edge of the stroke sometimes that then need to be cleaned up later.
How to Trace Photos to Make Stickers on Procreate
Tool and Supplies
- iPad (with or without a stylus like the Apple Pencil)
- Procreate App
- Sticker Border Brush (free custom Procreate brush- optional)
- Maple Leaf and/or pumpkin photos (save the photos in the tutorial below or take your own photos to use)
This page includes affiliate links- which means that you don’t pay extra, but I get a small commission when you purchase through them. This helps me buy more supplies for these tutorials! So if you choose to support me in this way, thank you!
Step One: Create a Custom Canvas on Procreate
Start in the Gallery and click the + symbol in the corner. Then hit the icon in the top right of the drop-down menu.
About Canvas Size- If you plan to print and cut these stickers in Cricut Design Space, create a custom canvas that’s 2025 px x 2775 px with a dpi of 300. (OR you can just create a canvas that is 6.75″ x 9.25″ since that’s the max size that you can print a sticker sheet in Cricut.)
If you plan to print these without using Design Space at all, then go ahead and make your canvas the standard letter size.
Note: Remember that you can size down without losing detail but you can’t size up.
Next, set the size of your custom canvas and rename it. Make sure your DPI is 300 and then hit Create in the upper right corner.
Step Two: Add a Photo
Tap the wrench icon in the top toolbar on Procreate. This will give you Actions> choose Add. Then Insert a photo. Choose a photo from your photo library (you can also save the pictures in this post to your photo library).
This will import your photo onto your canvas on Procreate. It will be selected, and you can drag the corners to size it as desired.
Note: You can right-click and save photos from this page to follow this tutorial OR use your own.
Step Three: Create Layers
Tap on the Layers icon at the top of your screen, it looks like one blue square overlapping another. This will drop down the Layers, and if you touch the plus sign in the corner, you can add layers. So add a second layer. It will be on top of your first layer, which has the photo.
Step Four: Change the Opacity of Your Photograph
On Layer One, touch the N to the right of the layer name. If you tap that some options appear on a dropdown menu. The top is an opacity slider. If you slide that to the left that decreases the opacity. Do that until the image is visible but transparent.
Step Five: Trace the Photo
With Layer Two selected, click on the brush tool to select a brush to trace the photo. I like to use the 6b pencil that is under Sketching in your brush library. To change the size of the brush use the sliding scale toggle on the left-side toolbar on your screen.
Note: To trace details, it helps to enlarge the canvas. You can do this by touching two fingers to your screen and then moving them apart.
Step Six: Check your Sketch, Then Delete Layer One
In the Layers panel, uncheck the square that is next to Layer One (the photos). This will hide your photograph entirely, and you can check that you have everything you want to include in your sketch.
If you’re satisfied, you can delete Layer One by swiping left on the Layer and tapping Delete.
Step Seven: Add color and texture with the brushes library and palette
In the Layers panel touch the “plus” symbol in the corner to add another layer. This is going to be your color layer. Choose the brushes and the colors you like and color your image.
Note: If you’re making a change and you’re not confident you want to keep it, you can create another layer to continue working on.
Use the visibility checkbox on each layer to play around with your options. I like to do a watercolor or gouache layer and then add some colored pencil on another layer on top of that. This is totally where the fun and magic of Procreate happens.
You can also touch then drag the layers to move different ones on top. For instance, I like to move my sketched layer on top of my color layer.
About the Color Tools
Tip 1) It’s easy for non-artists to pick highlight and shadow colors on Procreate when you use the Palette tools. Just select a color in the outer circle and then tap to select the value of that color in the center circle. The top left of the circle is white and the bottom left of the circle is black. Choose a lighter version of your main color to get a highlight and a darker version to get a shadow. This trick goes a long way to making your art look intentional.
Tip 2) If you want to use a color you’ve used before in your canvas (or select one from your photo) you can use the Color Picker. To bring this tool up simply touch the square that is between the brush size tool and the opacity tool in the toolbar. Once you see the circle tool move it to the color you want and that will select it and it will appear for you in the palette window!
Note: I go more in-depth about how to select brushes and create custom palettes in the YouTube video for this post (above)
Step Eight: Merge Your Layers
When you’re done with your images, you can merge the color and sketch layers. By touching the layer on top and choosing “merge down” in the sidebar toolbar that appears.
Step Nine: Select Your Image
To give yourself room to work, Select your completed sketch by touching the arrow.
This allows you to move and adjust the size of design.
If you don’t want your proportions to change, then make sure that in the Selection Toolbar (at the bottom of your screen) you have Uniform chosen. This locks the constraints of your image.
Note: Any action can be undone by touching the Undo arrow beneath the brush size slider.
Step Ten: Add the Sticker Border Outline to Cut Around
Updated: See the link at the top of this post for an easier and quicker way to add an outline to your stickers.
Create another layer and move it beneath all the other layers, directly on top of the “background” layer. Choose either a hard airbrush from your brushes library or download my free Sticker Border Brush that I created to be more streamlined and have a super hard edge so you don’t have extra less opaque pixels hanging off the edge of your stroke.
Using white, draw a shape under and around each sketched image. I demonstrate some ways of doing this in the video. Color drop in white to fill each shape completely.
Then Merge your art image and the white background shape.
Step Eleven: Duplicate your image
Once you have your sticker the way you like it, you can have two options to duplicate your image.
- You can swipe left on the layer, and instead of choosing “delete,” select “duplicate’. This will create a second layer with your duplicated image on it directly on top of the image you copied. Repeat to get enough images for a row. This may decrease the image quality slightly if you duplicate a duplicate, so duplicate the original layer each time.
- Now that Procreate 5x is here, you can use the three-finger swipe down to bring up the Copy and Paste panel. Choose Copy and then Paste 3 times.
Step Twelve: Create columns of your images to fill the canvas
Select the image layer by touching the arrow icon next to the ribbon, move your duplicated shape below the original. Continue to do this until you have a column of images.
Note: If you have the Magnetics and Snapping toggled on in the Selection menu, then lining up your images is a breeze (another Procreate 5x feature)!
Merge the Layers to create one Layer and Duplicate the entire column to fill your sticker sheet.
Step Thirteen: Export your image
The final step is to go back up to the top toolbar, and under the wrench symbol, choose the share option. This allows you to choose what file format you wish to export your image in. Choose the .png option and then save it to your photo gallery. Or you can airdrop, message, or email the image.
Note: Make sure the background layer is unchecked- this gives you a transparent background. That keeps your border in place when you upload into Cricut Design Space.
You’ve now learned the secrets of how to trace photos to make stickers on Procreate!
Uploading into Cricut Design Space as a Print then Cut Image
Where this post ends, my post, How to Print then Cut Stickers on Your Cricut, begins. Be sure to click the link to that for the instructions on uploading your .png files to Design Space and then process them as image files that you can Print then Cut with your Cricut!
Love Me a Freebie!!!
Don’t forget to stop by the Creative Resource Library and get the FREE Sticker Border Procreate Brush and grab the pumpkin and maple leaf stickers I created in this video as well.
Want more stickers to print and cut with a Cricut? Stop by the Well Crafted Studio Shop to pick up the printable sticker files for my “Hello Fall” sticker sheets below!
I created this Hello Fall sticker set using the same techniques I demonstrated in the video for this post. Pretty magical huh? Sparkles and pixie dust…
For More Inspiration
I’d love to have you check out my YouTube channel for other how-to ideas, including some awesome stickers and Cricut videos. AND a video on how to make borders for your stickers SUPER FAST. You’ll love this one- it’s like magic!
Love it? Share it!
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Thank you for reading,