If you want to get started creating your own digital illustrations graphics or animations there's really only one app you need: procreate.
I use a lot of different apps and tools across the broad spectrum of content that I create but there's one app that pretty much everything I create passes through at some point in my creative process and that's Procreate.
I use it to add illustrations and text to my photo edits, to create pop-ups for my videos and I even used Procreate to illustrate all of the artwork for my book The Magic of You. It's super versatile and it's the perfect app to help you build up your digital creative skills. In this beginners guide I’m going to share with you my top five tips or tools to get you started using Procreate if you've never used the app before; these tools are going to help you build up your confidence and your creative skill quickly and easily and will help support you on your creative journey
1. Drawing Guides
Procreate’s drawing guides are so much more than just simple grid lines to help you keep your lines straight or letter’s even, although they do help a lot with that too. To use drawing guides in Procreate simply toggle them on from the canvas setting’s menu. If you want to get even more out of your drawing guides, tap on ‘edit drawing guides’ to open the settings and options.
From here you can choose which type of guide you want to layout on your canvas to best meet your digital drawing needs. You can choose from the classic grid lines, an isometric grid, a perspective guide and a symmetry guide. Each has it’s own benefits and can be personalised; for example, you can increase or decrease the size of the classic grid lines, choose the vanishing points for a perspective grid and divide your canvas into multiple sections with the symmetry guides.
You can also turn on and off assisted drawing, which works differently depending on the type of drawing guide you are using. For more examples of how to personalise your drawing guides, watch the video below.
2. Snapping Guides
Unlike other editing or creation programmes, Procreate does not have layer alignment tools, this means you can’t tap on a layer or object and automatically centre it horizontally and vertically. What you can do however is use ‘snapping guides’ to help you keep individual layers or groups of layers centred on the canvas and aligned to each other.
You can find the snapping guides in the move and resize menu (tap on the cursor icon on the tap left of the design space); you have to manually toggle them on but once you do every time you use the move and resize tool to move a layer or groups of layers, you will see yellow guidelines to help you snap your objects to the centre and edges of the canvas and blue lines to help you centre layers to each other.
3. Streamline Tool
One of the most frustrating things about moving from working on paper to doing digital illustration is that you go from working on something textured with friction to something smooth like the plastic screen of an iPad. You might find that your lines are really shaky, your shapes aren't the same as what you're used to them being on paper and it just can be a really frustrating process.
The stabilization tools in the brush menu can help you create virtual or digital friction. To adjust the streamlining settings, tap on your brush menu and select any brush. Tap on it a second time to open up the brush studio and select the stabilization options which are the second option on the left-hand side menu.
There are two sections to the stabilization which are streamlining and stabilization; both help you create smoother steadier lines. You can use the preview space on the right-hand side to test how the adjustments behave until you get a mix of streamlining and stabilisation that ‘feels’ right for you.
You can adjust and personalise the stabilization settings for each brush in your Procreate library individually.
4. The Text Tool
While the text tool can of course come in handy for creating infographics and making copy legible on your designs, it also can work as a guide to help you get started with digital lettering.
One of my favourite hacks for beginner Procreate users who want to work on improving their lettering is to create a text layer with the copy you want to letter, then reduce the opacity of that layer and on a new layer above, hand-letter out your text. What you end up with is lettering that is really uniform in shape and size but still in your personal style.
5. Importing Photos & Files
My fifth and final tip for beginners is a reminder that you don’t have to draw everything you create in Procreate. You can easily import your own photographs from your camera roll directly onto your canvas and then you can create illustrations or add text over them or even create collages and mood boards. Just make sure that anything you are importing in terms of stock images or photographs is something that you actually do have permission or a license to use.
Learn how I use Procreate…
If you want to see how I use these different tools, then watch the video below for a full walkthrough of each of the tips I’ve mentioned in this guide.