20 Procreate Tips & Tricks You May Not Know About

20 Procreate Tips & Tricks You May Not Know About

As a digital artist, you know that Procreate is undisputedly one of the best pieces of creative software available for the iPad. But over the years, Procreate has added hundreds of features and settings. It can be overwhelming to find the most time-saving and useful features in the app.

That's where we come in! We've done the hard work of digging through Procreate's extensive documention, scoured through countless tutorials, and worked extensively in the app ourselves.

The result is 20 of the best Procreate tips and tricks that you may not have known about.

In this comprehensive article, we'll share tips for working faster, staying organized, and maximizing the power you get out or brushes and textures.

So grab your Apple Pencil, fire up Procreate, and let's uncover some of the most valuable hidden gems in the Procreate app!

1. Set your canvas up like a pro

Before we dig into some of the hidden gems in Procreate, let's make sure we get the basics right. While the app includes a wide variety of pre-made canvas sizes be sure to set up your canvas for your specific project requirements.

Create a new canvas by clicking the plus icon in the upper right corner of the Procreate gallery.

Here's how to set up a custom canvas:

    1. Open the Procreate Gallery by tapping on the Gallery icon.
    2. In the upper right hand corner, tap the "+" button to create a new canvas
    3. Tap the rectangle icon located in the top right corner.
    4. Input your desired canvas dimensions and DPI (dots per inch).

To choose the proper DPI, consider the intended use of your artwork.

High-quality prints: Opt for 300 DPI so your printed work is crisp and clean (you don't want any pixelation or blur to ruin your prints).

Digital art for display on screens: You'll be solid with 150 DPI. This will get you sharp and clear images that aren't unnecesariily large file sizes.

Web-only images: You're still safe with 72 DPI in most cases. This is especially useful for images on websites where you want to keep the page load time low.

One of the most convenient features of Procreate is that it automatically saves your custom canvas settings as a new preset template so you can

2. Save Time Coloring UsIng Color Drop Fills

Like the Paint Bucket Tool in software like Photoshop, Procreate's Color Drop lets you quickly fill areas of your canvas. No more slow and meticulous coloring in areas (unless you just need to relax and color, then by all means take your time).

Here's how to color in areas lighting fast:

    1. Outline around the area you want to fill. Close the shape with no gaps.
    2. Tap the Color button in the upper right-hand corner.
    3. Drag the color circle from the menu within the shape you drew to fill the area.
Drag colors from the top right corner of the menu bar to use the ColorDrop feature in Procreate.

It's important to have no gaps for this to work correctly, so you'll want to use a brush with minimal texture and full opacity.

If your shape doesn't fill correctly, you may need to adjust the ColorDrop Threshold. Undo your fill and repeat the above steps, but keep your finger or Apple Pencil on the screen. Sliding to the left or right will adjust the threshold, filling in more or less of the shape.

💡 Top Tip: Adjust the threshold of a fill by keeping your finger or Apple Pencil on your screen after filling a shape. Move it either right or left to fill in any gaps between your line and fill.

3. Streamline workflow with palette menu color fills

If you're using ColorDrop fills you, might find it a bit tedious to drop multiple colors. Thankfully, there's an even easier way! You can drop colors directly from the Palettes menu, letting you access every color in your palettes at once.

    1. Tap to open your Palettes Menu by tapping on the Color Picker.
    2. Tap and drag any color onto your palette.

Repeat as many times as you need to color in everything.

Drag colors directly from the color palette menu in Procreate for quick ColorDrop Fills.

Take advantage of Procreate's color palette features to organize different options into one palette and then combine them with reference layers to drag and drop color in a snap. Color dropping from the palette menu is an excellent workflow for using products like ColorLab. Open the solid color palettes included with the pack and mock up your design in seconds.

4. create precise artwork Using Drawing Guides

Procreate includes several slightly hidden drawing guides that make everything from Perspective to Symmetry a breeze. You can use guides with or without Drawing Assist.

    1. Tap the wrench in the upper left-hand corner to bring up the Actions menu.
    2. Tap Canvas and toggle on Drawing Guide.
    3. Tap Edit Drawing Guide.
Toggling on Drawing Guide from the Procreate Canvas Settings will create a 2D, isometric, perspective or symmetry guide. Tap Edit Drawing Guide to customize.

You can choose a 2D Grid, Isometric Perpsective, Multi-point Perspective, and Symmetry, with some settings having additional options.

With the Symmetry option, for instance, you can choose between Vertical, Horizontal, Quadrant or Radial Symmetry.

Tap ‘Done’ to return to your canvas.

You can turn these settings on and off by tapping the layer thumbnail and turning off 'Drawing Assist.'

5. Speed Up Coloring with Reference Layers

You can make ColorDrop Fills faster by using Reference Layers, a setting that lets you to fill line art like a coloring book. Using Reference layers eliminates the need to redraw the same shape to fill in colors.

    1. Tap the layer containing your line art to open a side menu. Tap Reference.
    2. Create a new layer underneath the line art layer.
    3. Follow the instructions for creating a ColorDrop Fill to fill any area within the line art.
Tap a layer in Procreate to bring up its menu options. Tap Reference to make a Reference Layer for easy color fills.

Reference layers are best for working in a graphic style with well-defined line art. You can create as many layers below your reference layer to keep colors organized. Or, make multiple color mock-ups quickly by dropping everything in a single layer.

6. work smarter with Gestures

Procreate includes several dynamic gestures to perform functions quickly and easily. You can see the complete list of options by selecting Actions>Prefs>Gesture controls. You can learn about and personalize each function associated with a gesture.

Gesture Controls are movements that trigger helpful features. Access by tapping Actions, Preferences, then Gesture Controls.

Customizing makes the gesture controls truly powerful. Choose from finger taps, swipes, holds, and other gestures to personalize settings. You can customize controls like color picking, selecting layers, and disabling finger painting, as we'll expand on below.

7. select layers Quickly with layer select

It can be very frustrating to try and find a specific layer when there are dozens–even if you name them. That's where Layer Select comes in!

Procreate's Layer Select gesture let's you tap and move to a desired layer automatically. Making even the busiest file easy to navigate.

To set up Layer Select:

    1. Tap the Actions icon, then Prefs>Gesture Controls.
    2. Tap Layer Select and choose a preference that works for you.
    3. Tap Done.
Use Layer Select to automatically move to a specific layer in Procreate. Access through the Gesture Control panel.

You can assign any of the gestures to perform the Layer Select function so long as it is not used by another gesture.

To use Layer Select:

    1. Use the gesture control you've selected and tap the part of the artwork you know your layer is on.
    2. The layer is active when you see its name and thumbnail appear.
    3. If your layer is in a Group you may see multiple thumbnails appear for you to choose.

8. Disable finger painting for cleaner canvases

There are a lot of different settings you can control within the Gesture Controls menu. Tucked inside the unassuming General tab is a beneficial setting to keep your canvas free from annoying accidental marks.

By toggling off Enable Painting with Finger, you can avoid the annoyance of finding a stray mark on a random layer. Alternatively, if your Apple Pencil is dead or you otherwise can't use it, you can toggle finger painting back on again anytime.

Turn Enable Finger Painting with Finger off in Procreate through the Gesture Control menu to keep your canvas clean.

With Enable Painting with Finger turned off, you'll still be able to use any gestures based on finger movement. Disabling finger painting keeps your canvas clean while you reap all the benefits of the gesture controls.

9. Automate Tasks with the Quick Menu

This is a double tip because most people may not use the Quick Menu–a collection of useful actions you can customize. You may need to assign a Gesture to be able to pull up the Quick Menu.

You can create multiple Quick Menus which can have six actions each. In this way, Quick Menus are like Photoshop Actions. You can assign specific actions that you use frequently to apply effects or perform functions quickly.

To create a Quick Menu:

    1. Use the gesture you've assigned to pull up the Quick Menu.
    2. Tap and hold the center rectangle.
    3. Tap the plus sign in the top right corner.

To assign Quick Menu actions:

    1. Tap and hold any of the six slots surrounding the center Quick Menu rectangle.
    2. Select any of the actions from the Set Action sub-menu. Some actions have multiple options. You can tap any action with an arrow to bring up additional choices.
Set up the Quick Menu in Procreate's Gesture Control settings to easily access your most used actions.

With the Quck Menu, you can create themed brush collections that are easily accessible from your canvas. You can also create a series of steps that you use often such as flipping the canvas or soloing a layer without having to menu dive to find them. Saving you time and improving your workflow.

10. Duplicate artwork by copying your canvas

Sometimes, you want to try something different without duplicating the whole document. Other times, Procreate's layer limit gets in the way. For those cases, using the Copy Canvas function comes in handy.

    1. Tap the Actions icon.
    2. Tap the Add tab.
    3. Tap Copy canvas.
    4. Tap Paste.

Procreate will paste the entire canvas as a flat image in your layers panel above the previously active layer.

Copy your canvas in Procreate by tapping Actions then Copy Canvas.

Copying your canvas lets you quickly try out new things without worrying about making permanent changes. You can add, edit, or adjust anything you'd like, knowing your original artwork is untouched.

We've used the Copy Canvas feature to add artwork to paper textures without needing to save anything to our image folder, recoloring artwork for different colorway options, and for adjusting layouts and compositions.

11. change colors instantly with recolor tool

You can change the color of any part of your artwork using the Recolor action accessible in the Quick Menu.

If you haven't assigned Recolor to your Quick Menu yet, follow the steps in Tip 8 for instructions on how to do this.

    1. Activate Recolor and tap or drag the cursor where you want to change or add color.
    2. To change the fill or add multiple colors open the Palettes Menu and select the color you want to use.
Assign Recolor to your Quick Menu in Procreate to quickly change your artwork.

Recolor can be used to change parts of, or entire sections of an artwork.

While in Recolor mode you can add or change colors as much as you'd like. When used in combination with functions like Reference Layers you'll be able to swap out large blocks of color–or add them–in seconds.

12. Triple the Value of Brushes with Brush Swap

With your paintbrush tool active, tap and hold the Eraser or Smudge Tool. The current brush you are using for painting will take the role of the eraser or smudge tool. A very simple, but powerful tip!

You can switch between painting, smudging, and erasing with the same brush to get some interesting texture results.

Long press on the brush, smudge, or eraser tool in Procreate to assign the previously active brush to that tool.

Switching between tools is helpful for using texture brushes like our Edge & Fold Distressor Brush Pack. Use the tool as a brush to apply color, like in ink overspray or miscoloration, and then switch to the eraser to take color away for weathering or ink flake. Using your tools in this way maintains cohesion and maximizes the usefulness of your brush packs.

13. Pin favorite brushes for easy access

There will undoubtedly be a time when you come back to work on a piece of art and you can't remember what brushes you used. This can be a major headache, especially if the work is for a client. Luckily, there's an easy way to keep important brushes all in one place.

You can pin brushes to favorites by opening the Brush Library and selecting Recent. This folder will have all the brushes you've used most recently. Swipe left on a brush and select Pin. Procreate will keep the brushes you pin in that folder until you unpin them.

Pin your most used brushes to the Recent brush library by swiping left and tapping Pin.

You can only have 10 brushes in your Recent folder at a time. If you pin all 10 brushes then no more will show up after. Use the Recent folder strategically so you can access everything you need.

14. Create natural strokes with dynamic brush scaling

To get the most out of your texture brushes and to be able to get into tight spaces, Dynamic Brush Scaling has you covered.

With Dynamic Brush Scaling turned on your brushes will stay the same relative size regardless of how much you zoom in our out.

Turning Dynamic Brush Scaling off will not alter your brush size in relation zooming. This allows you to get into small areas or apply texture with lots of depth without slowing your workflow.

    1. Tap the Actions icon.
    2. Toggle Dynamic Brush Scaling on or off.

Take advantage of both settings by switching between them for a variety of techniques and effects.

Tap Actions then Preferences and toggle off Dynamic Brush Scaling in Procreate to change the scale of a brush by zooming.

The steam on this coffee was made by zooming in and out with Dynamic Brush Scaling turned off.

Using Dynamic Brush Scaling can help you get the most out of more textural brushes, such as dry brushes for fur or wood, for example, developing more depth quickly.

Turning off Dynamic Brush Scaling is also helpful when using brushes such as DupliTone or TransferTone. The scale of the embedded pattern will stay consistent while the shape of the brush gets smaller or larger, allowing you to get into tiny spaces while still maintaining seamless textures.

14. Pin most-used brushes to quick menu

Although you can only pin 10 brushes to the Recent Brushes folder you can use a loophole by assigning brushes to a Quick Menu.

    1. Open your Quick Menu and tap and hold an empty slot. If you need to create a new Quick Menu, do this before selecting an empty slot.
    2. Tap Select Brush.
    3. Scroll to and tap the folder you want.
    4. Tap the brush of your choice to assign it to the slot.

Create collections of themed menus for effects–like liners and textures–or neatly organized projects when you need them.

Add your most used brushes to a Quick Menu with the Select Brush action.

You can make over 100 Quick Menus, meaning accessing your favorite or most used brushes is fast and easy. We love creating menus for specific projects, so there's never a worry of forgetting which brushes were used, even returning to work on them months later.

15. maintain consistency: Save brush & opacity preferences

Sitting on the side of any Procreate document is your brush scale and opacity sliders which do as the names suggest. Procreate has the ability to add presets to both sliders so you can quickly shift between settings.

    1. Move either slider in the direction you'd like for your preset.
    2. Tap the "+" sign in the brush preview window.
Tap the the plus icon when adjusting the brush scale or opacity in Procreate to assign a brush preset.

You can assign up to four presets per brush. To undo a preset, select the one you want to delete and tap the "-" minus sign in the brush preview window.

As with the Quick Menu hack above, brush and opacity presets are extra handy when working on projects over a long period. Never forget an inking brush's line weight, or keep brushes consistent relative to each other without diving into the Brush Settings menu.

16. Get more creative control with clipping masks

Just like other image design software, Procreate has layer settings that can expand a layer's capabilities.

Clipping Masks are a great way to mask off a part of your image, revealing artwork only within the boundaries of the layer below it. The benefits of a Clipping Mask over Alpha Lock is that it is non-destructive. Meaning you can make any changes you like to the clipped layer without affecting its parent.

    1. Add a new layer above the shape you are masking.
    2. Tap the new empty layer and select Clipping Mask from the Layer Options menu.

You'll know the layer is a Clipping Mask by the arrow to the left of the layer thumbnail.

Create a clipping mask in Procreate by tapping a layer and selecting Clipping Mask from the menu options.

17. Enhance artwork with adjustments and filters

Procreate contains a wide variety of adjustment and filter options to give your artwork a range of unique effects.

Adjustments such as Color Balance and Curves help fine tune your artwork or photographs. Filters like Halftone and Glitch can take your artwork in an entirely different stylistic direction.

Combine adjustments and filters with the blend modes found in the Layers Panel for even more unique effects.

Use the Adjustments menu to access color balance, Gaussian blur, and other useful features.

Protect your artwork from destructive changes by copying your canvas or duplicating layers before applying adjustments or filters. Duplicating your artwork several times allows you to try out different adjustments and effects.

18. Copy and Paste elements with the clone tool

Among the Adjustments available in Procreate, one of the most useful is the Clone tool. Use it for doing spot corrections or repeating whole sections of your artwork. Zooming in and out of the canvas scales the Clone tool as well, giving you a lot of control.

You can also use any brush with the Clone tool for introducing texture and opacity options.

Use the Clone tool in Procreate through the Adjustments menu to copy parts of your artwork.

Using the clone tool is a great way to speed up production by duplicating elements of your artwork that don't need remaking. Cloning saves you time and frees up your energy to focus on the parts of a design that are unique or require more detail.

19. reference images easily with the Reference Companion

References are a handy tool for every artist no matter their skill level. Adding a reference to your canvas or using split screen isn't always the most graceful approach to using references. For that, the Reference Companion window works best.

    1. Tap Actions then Canvas.
    2. Toggle on Reference.

By default, the Reference Companion window will display your canvas. You can select from your images for a photo reference, or face if you are using the facepainting feature.

Use to Reference window for easy drawing reference in Procreate by tapping Actions the Canvas and Reference.

As we mentioned, the Reference Companion window defaults to showing a snapshot of your screen. We like this feature when working on fine details requiring us to zoom in close. Referencing the entire canvas allows us to see the big picture.

Using photo references is always helpful for achieving a tricky pose or when using a particular style of artwork as inspiration. You can build up a bank of reference photos within your image folder to have on hand whenever you need them from within the Procreate app.

20. trace art effortlessly and don't get caught Using Private Layers

Use a file in your artwork without it showing up in Time-lapse Replay use a Private Layer. The reference won't be visible in the replay, but you can see them while you are working.

    1. Tap Actions and Add.
    2. Swipe left on either Insert a File, Insert a Photo, or Take a Photo to bring up the option to add them privately.
Files and Photos can be added as a Private Layer by swiping to the left from the Actions menu.

To clarify, we don't condone art theft. Tracing can be a valid method of art creation when done appropriately.

Additionaly there is reason to exclude your references from a time lapse beyond tracing. Switching between references in real time can translate into headache-inducing flashes when exporting a time-lapse. Keeping your references hidden avoids jarring pop-ups and keeps you from having to do annoying editing later.


We hope you enjoyed these tips and found something you can use to improve your workflow. You can bookmark this page to reference it later.

You may have noticed that some of the tips build upon each other. As you get used to the tools Procreate offers, the more advanced tips will make more sense and reinforce the simpler tips in your memory.

And remember to practice! Sometimes, it’s the little things that make all the difference.

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