Seven Tips for the Procreate App You May Not Know About

by Nicole Mauloni December 26, 2018 7 Comments

Seven Tips for the Procreate App You May Not Know About

One of the key reasons the Procreate app is so enjoyable to use is due to its minimalistic interface. There isn’t a bunch of icons cluttering the canvas, leaving the space clear for you to design without distraction. This doesn’t mean the drawing app has less functionality, but a lot of features are out of sight and need a little extra exploration to uncover.

We’ll look at 7 time-saving tips to help you get the most out of Procreate for illustration. Knowing these hidden features and gestures can get you moving around the interface like a pro.

Note: All brushes used throughout this tutorial are available in The Mid-Century Brush Pack for Procreate.

1. Color Palette

A distinct feature of Mid-Century illustration is the use of bold, contrasting colors. When working with a simplistic color palette, it’s important to have easy access to them.

The Color Palette Panel in Procreate is intuitive and easy to use. If you want to sample a color value, tap the square outline icon on the left menu bar to bring up your color picker. Drag this over the color you wish to sample and it will appear in the color circle in the top menu.

How to use the Color Picker in Procreate


Tapping the color circle will reveal the settings. You can then save color values by tapping a blank square within the Color Palette panel.

How to save a color swatch in Procreate


You’ll notice you have the option to set the Palette to ‘Default’. Doing this will keep the palette active through the other color setting screens.

You can also delete a color swatch - tap and hold on the swatch square and choose ‘Delete’. Or to delete the whole palette, swipe to the left and tap ‘Delete’.

Color Palettes are global and available across all documents.

💡Top Tip: To use your previous color, hold down the color circle in the top menu for a few seconds and it will swap back. Ideal for duotone work!

2. Color Drop Fill

Another handy time-saving trick is the color drop feature. Draw an outline around the area you want to fill, making sure the shape is completely closed with no gaps. Drag the color circle from the top menu within the shape to fill the area.

You may want to go back over the area with a textured brush and roughen the edges or add some grain.

How to use Color Drop in Procreate

Top Tip: It's important have no gaps in the shape outline for this to work properly so use a brush with minimal texture.

The brushes used in the above example were ‘RSCo Dixon HB 2’ for the outline, and ‘RSCo Grain II’ for the grain. Both are available in the Mid-Century Pack for Procreate pack


3. Liquify

The 4.1 release of Procreate introduced us to the powerful new ‘Liquify’ feature. Liquify can be a like a psychedelic time machine, producing crazy graphics that look like portals to another dimension... or when used with restraint, add realistic ripples to shapes and strokes. Perfect for drawing coffee steam or roughening up the edges of an outline!

You'll find the Liquify settings in the drop-down menu, under Adjustments Panel. This will bring up preferences along the bottom of the screen. You can choose between Push, Twirl Right, Twirl Left, Pinch, Expand, Crystals and Edge. There are sliders to adjust the size and pressure as well as distortion and momentum. If you take things a bit too far, you can use the ‘Reconstruct’ setting to knock back the effect or ‘Reset’ to remove it completely.

How to use Liquify in Procreate

Brush used ‘RSCo Fine Gouache’ from the Mid-Century Pack for Procreate pack.

4. Symmetry

Another fantastic feature that came with a recent update, is the Symmetry tool. The Procreate community went wild for it, flooding Instagram with beautiful, intricate patterns. But if mandalas aren’t your thing, you may also find it useful for your regular drawing process.

With Symmetry activated, your design is reflected on the opposite side of your canvas.

To access the Symmetry settings, open the ‘Actions’ panel and under the Canvas menu, turn on the toggle that says ‘Drawing Guide’. Tap ‘Edit Drawing Guide’ (below the toggle). You can choose between Vertical, Horizontal, Quadrant or Radial symmetry. Tap ‘Done’ to return to your canvas.

You can disable the symmetry settings by tapping the layer thumbnail and turning off 'Drawing Assist'.

How to use the Symmetry feature in Procreate

5. QuickShape

One drawback for illustrating in Procreate, was always its lack of shape tools. If you wanted to use a circle, rectangle or triangle, you had to draw it in another application, then import it back into Procreate.

But those days are a thing of the past. The most recent update, version 4.2, comes with ‘QuickShape’. This allows you to turn your sketchy shape into a smooth symmetrical one. To do this, complete the shape outline and pause as you close the path. The shape snaps into place like magic!

You can also draw perfectly straight lines by holding your pencil down at the end of the stroke.

How to use Quickshape in Procreate

6. Brush Switch

If you hold down the eraser tool in the top menu for a couple of seconds, it will swap the brush to the current one you are using for painting (and vice versa). A very simple, but powerful tip!

You can switch between painting and erasing to get some interesting texture results.

How to swap eraser to paint brush in Procreate

7. Alpha Lock to Recolor

There are many times when we need to change direction on a color palette half way through a design. The ‘Alpha Lock’ feature is useful in those situations, allowing you to recolor individual layers. Tap the layer thumbnail and choose ‘Alpha Lock’ (or two finger swipe to the right if you want to get fancy). This now locks the transparency. Next tap your layer again and choose 'Fill Layer'.

You can also use this feature to paint a textured grain onto a layer.

How to use Alpha Lock in Procreate

I hope you enjoyed these tips and found something you can use to improve your workflow. I'd love to know your favorite, please leave a comment below and tell us which you liked the best.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference!


All brushes used throughout this tutorial are available in The Mid-Century Brush Pack for Procreate.

Nicole Mauloni
Nicole Mauloni


7 Responses


July 20, 2020

Thank you so much for this tutorial list! So helpful and easy to navigate. Thanks for making it simple and removing the fluff.


June 29, 2020

Thank you for writing this – I’d never quite grasped what the value of Alpha Lock was until now (and the two-finger activation gesture is nifty). Also: the Color Drop Fill one is amazing. That will definitely be part of all my illustrating in the future. Thanks again!


May 12, 2020

I really needed to learn more about Alpha Lock! Thank you!


June 16, 2019

You have made Procreate useable for me , as a casual usual for fun not professionally. The palate info is very helpful but it’s all great

Susan Faiola
Susan Faiola

March 12, 2019

Love all your brushes and tutorials! Am dizzy trying to make up my mind as to which brush set to buy first. Thanks so much.

Peter Costello
Peter Costello

January 28, 2019

Fantastic Article. Today I learned about symmetry, liquify and brash sway. Thanks!

Chad Savage
Chad Savage

January 26, 2019

Fantastic article – I’m new to Procreate (I love it!) and didn’t know about most of these features. Can’t wait to try’em out!

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