The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Procreate Brushes

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Procreate Brushes

Want to learn the dark, hidden secrets of bending Procreate brushes to your will? Keep reading and learn some of our favorite Procreate brush tips and tricks to get results in the Procreate brush panel that will have other artists begging you for tips!

One of the best things about Procreate is the abundance of brushes available.

Not only the ones that comes bundled with the app, but the custom brushes from artists all over the world including Procreate brushes from RetroSupply and the Procreate forum brushes.

There’s something to suit every style. The theme of a Procreate brush pack can even influence your work and push you creativity to new places. It’s an exciting and energetic community to be part of!

You may think you have the best default Procreate brush for you– and you might be right. But learning how to take advantage of third-party brushes and the Procreate brush settings will really take your art to the next level.

This Procreate brush tutorial will look at the most useful properties that control brush behavior. Being able to edit brush settings opens up even more opportunities. If you can customize a brush, you can make powerful changes to suit specific needs.

The following tips can apply to both custom and default Procreate brushes. You can use the information below to learn how to make Procreate brushes as well.

Mastering risograph brushes for procreate

Artwork created using the Risograph Brush and Texture Kit

💡Top Tip: Before you start making changes, it’s a good habit to create a backup of the brush first. This protects your original version in case you wish to revert back later.

If you'd like to know how to duplicate a brush in Procreate, open the brush panel, swipe left on the brush thumbnail and choose ‘Duplicate’. You can also re-name it by tapping on the name in the 'About This Brush' tab.

#1. Push the Size Limits

mastering colorlab comic coloring kit for procreate

Artwork created using ColorLab Comic Coloring Kit

Changing your brush size is a simple matter of adjusting the slider on the left side of your screen. But there are limits to this range and there may be times you wish to exceed them.

For example, you might wish to paint a background texture but the grain starts behaving differently at scale. Or you may need to edit a liner brush to produce finer detailed lines. The solution is easy, once you know where to look.

As mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to keep a backup of your original brush before making any changes. Once you have your duplicate ready, tap on it to open the Brush Studio.

The Brush Studio contains all Procreate brush settings and it is where we will be spending the majority of our time throughout this tutorial. Supplemental information for the Brush Studio can be found in the Procreate Brush Guide provided on Procreate's website.

You’ll see the different category icons on the left side of the brush panel. Tap on Properties to access the Size Limits settings. Increase or decrease your Maximum and Minimum size ranges. Paint on your Drawing Pad to the right to preview the changes as you go.


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#2. Get Precision Strokes with Streamline

adjusting pen brushes for Procreate

Artwork created using Standard Pens and Duplitone Halftone Brushes

The StreamLine settings correct your curves by reducing any wobble in your strokes. It is particularly useful for precision drawing. A majority of brushes come with a certain amount of StreamLine built-in, but you may want to adjust this amount.

To access the StreamLine settings, open the Stabilization menu in the Brush Studio. You’ll see the Amount slider in the first set of options under StreamLine.

The more StreamLine you add, the more smooth your stroke will be. It can feel a little strange at first, so test as you go to find the amount that feels right for you.

You can reduce the Streamline or remove it altogether if you prefer. Move the slider all the way the left until you see None.

adjust the stremline settings on a Procreate brush

#3. Change the Procreate Brush Shape and Grain Source for More Versatility

Procreate app Brush Studio with Grain menu option selected on iPad

There are two core elements controlling the properties of a Procreate brush: Shape and Grain.

The Shape is the container for the Grain ie. whatever texture you set for the Grain will be stamped within the Procreate brush shape source. You can think of it as a brush tip– some brush tips are blunt and rectangular, while others are soft and round.

The Procreate Handbook describes the Grain source like this - ‘"Think of the Grain as a paint roller. When you paint a stroke, the Grain is rolled onto the canvas."

You can access these shape images under the Shape tab of the Brush Studio. Tap on Edit to import your own custom file (via Photos or Files) or choose Source Library to use an image from the existing Procreate collection.

You can even paste a source image directly from your clipboard by tapping Paste from within the import drop down menu.

These same steps apply for editing your Grain image. Just tap the Grain tab in the Brush Studio.

💡 Tips for Creating Procreate Source Images

  1. Compatible formats for custom images are JPEG, PNG, TIFF and GIF.
  2. 100% black will be transparent and 100% white will be solid. Anything in between will be semi-transparent.
  3. Use 1:1 ratio image dimensions (Procreate will auto-stretch images to fit a square ratio).
  4. Make your grain images a seamless pattern wherever possible.

If you have forgotten to make a duplicate of the original brush and have decided you don't like the new shape or grain image you have chosen, you can always reset the brush. Go to Properties in the Brush Studio and tap Reset brush.Text

#4. Personalize the Pressure Curve  

Adjusting the pressure curve settings in Procreate on the iPad

Artwork created using the Risograph Brush and Texture Kit

Another preference that is worth experimenting with is the Pressure Curve. As the name suggests, the Pressure Curve controls the way your Apple Pencil responds to pressure.

You can edit settings within an individual brush, as well as the global Apple Pencil behavior. We’ll look at the global settings today, to find the right pencil pressure to match your style.

I find it easiest to use a sketching brush when tweaking these values. The RSCO Standard Pencil #4 from the Standard Pencil Pack for Procreate is a perfect example - it has an obvious opacity change with pressure. Or the standard 'Technical Pencil' that comes with Procreate would work well too.

To edit the settings, open the Actions Panel (wrench icon) and the Preferences tab. Tap Pressure & Smoothing to open the pressure graph. The curve is set at a 45° angle by default.

Try making a few very light strokes on the canvas, and work up to darker markings. If it feels like you need to press very hard to see your strokes, increase the start of the curve to a sharper upwards angle. You can add more nodes higher up the curve too, but increasing the first area will make the most significant change.

Don’t be afraid to play around as you can always hit the ‘Reset all’ button to revert to the defaults.

For more information on the Pressure Curve, see subsection Interface of the Procreate Handbook.


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#5. Get More Control with Tilted Pencil Shading

Procreate app Brush Studio with Apple Pencil menu option selected and sliders being adjusted

You’ll find settings for Tilt under the Apple Pencil tab within the Brush Studio. Adjusting these controls allows you to simulate shading when using the Pencil on an angle (as you would do with a real pencil).

The sliders that here control the attributes of the Tilt are : Angle, Opacity, Gradation, Bleed and Size.

The Angle slider is when the Pencil Tilt starts to affect the stroke. The slider goes from 0° (the pencil is flat on the iPad screen) up to 90° (the pencil is vertical to the iPad screen).

You can also change the Opacity settings for Pencil Tilt. If the value is set to None, the change in tilt will not impact the brushes opacity. When set to Max, the brush opacity will fade off dramatically.

Gradation makes a gradient from the tip of where your pencil touches the screen to fade off at the base. Changes to this value will adjust the intensity of the gradient, or you can remove it altogether by setting it to None.

Bleed effects the detail of the stroke. If you increase this value, you will see less detail when using lighter strokes.

Size, as you can imagine, controls the brush size for the tilted stroke. In most cases, it makes sense to have this increase.

You can also try the toggle for Size Compression. This will try to replicate how a traditional pencil would look.

Note: These settings are only available with the Apple Pencil.

#6. Add Realism to Your Strokes with the Brush Taper Settings

Illustration of colorful bird in Procreate app with brush stroke showing tapered endings on iPad

Brush Taper refers to the brush size reduction at the start or end of a stroke. The taper amount is impacted by a variety of different factors (such as brush dynamics), however the Taper settings modify this directly.

You’ll find the Taper settings under the Taper tab in the Brush Studio. There are two sets of controls. Pressure Taper (for using the Apple Pencil), and Touch Taper (using your finger). We’ll be looking at the Pressure Taper settings, though they both function the same way.


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Procreate app Brush Studio with Taper menu option selected and size slider being adjusted

You’ll see two sliders on either side of a line underneath Pressure Taper. The first one affects the amount of taper on the start of the stroke and the second affects the stroke end. If you tap the 'Link tip sizes' toggle, these will move together to reflect the same value.

You will need some percentage given to the Size slider to see these changes. The Size controls the amount of taper applied to your stroke. A higher value will produce a more obvious change at the stroke ends.

The Opacity slider controls changes to the opacity of the stroke where there is a taper. At a higher value, you get a more obvious reduction to the opacity.

At higher values, Pressure will get you a stronger taper to your stroke ends when you apply more pressure.

The Tip slider controls the shape of the tapered endings. A Sharp setting (all the way to the left) will produce a very pointed end tip. If the slider is set to Blunt (all the way to the right), the tip will be more rounded.

When Tip Animation is set to Off, the taper is applied when you lift your pencil from the canvas. When set to On, the taper is applied to as you paint.

Taper settings don’t suit every brush. In the right situation however, it can add more realism to your strokes. You can proactively set off the taper effect by using a ‘flicking’ motion as you finish a stroke.

#7. Create your own Blending Brush with Wet Mix

Illustration of boy in UFO in Procreate app with Brush Library panel open and RSCO Perfect Gouache brush selected on iPad

A Blend brush is different to a normal brush in that it mixes and drags existing colors around. It picks up the paint that is already on the canvas and blends it using the brushes shape and grain settings.

Having a few blend brushes in your toolkit can be very handy for adding a more realistic textured look to your designs.

The Wet Mix brush settings enable you to transform existing painting to blending brushes.

The Smudge Tool offers a similar effect, but it doesn’t give nearly as much variety or control. By adjusting a few of the Procreate Wet Mix settings, you can easily create your own!

Tap the Wet Mix tab in the Brush Studio. This gives slider controls for Dilution, Charge, Attack, Pull, Grade, Blur, Blur Jitter, and Wetness Jitter.

As mentioned earlier, a blender brush interacts with the paint on the canvas rather than adding more. The first slider for Dilution is the main setting that affects the paint amount. With this value set to Max, the brush will no longer apply any paint.

So if you are creating your own blending brush, you would want Dilution set to Max. Note: Leave setting the Dilution for last so you can see the effects of the other adjustments.

Procreate app Brush Studio with Wet Mix menu option selected and sliders being adjusted on iPad

The Charge value will impact the amount of paint applied to a brush. If set to 0, the paint will run out very rapidly.

Attack is designed for the Apple Pencil. The higher value you give to this, the more variation in the shape of your stroke when applying pressure.

The more you press down, the more the brush shape is applied to your stroke - as it would in a real life brush.

The Pull slider works in partnership with the Dilution slider. It affects the amount of paint you will pull around the canvas.

Grade describes the chunkiness and contrast of the texture of your brush.

The Blur slider adjusts the amount of blur applied to the paint that sits underneath what you apply to the canvas.

Try playing around to see what effect you like best. As long as you keep a backup of the brush, there’s no harm in experimenting!


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Final Thoughts on Mastering Procreate Brushes

As Procreate continues to adapt and improve their Brush Studio, the possibilities for creating and editing your brushes is endless! Here are some major takeaways to help get you started in experimenting in the Brush Studio.

  • Experiment with StreamLine. Especially as you are getting used to drawing on the iPad, this will smooth out jittery lines and helps make more uniform curves.
  • Increase the Wet Mix. This little trick will change almost any brush into the perfect accompanying blending brush in Procreate.
  • Adjust the Pressure Curve. If the pressure doesn't feel right, you can edit the brushes through the brush studio or how the Apple Pencil reacts to pressure through the Pressure Curve settings under Preferences in your Actions tab.
  • Use Brush Taper and Tilt. This is a powerful and easy way to add dimension and variability to your brush shape and texture.

Please Note : Making edits to purchased brushes is fine for use on RetroSupply brushes that have been purchased, but does not give the end user permission to redistribute or sell RetroSupply brushes, textures, or tools.

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