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How I Use Procreate: my top tips for using Procreate for a hand drawn style

This blog aims to take you through how I use Procreate for my illustration work. We'll talk about my top tips for Procreate: the pencils I use, the tricks to make drawing easier, and features I didn't realise would be so useful until recently!


Contents


INTRODUCTION


Now, before we start I want to caveat this post: I am not an expert in Procreate in any sense at all, I use it for drawing commissions in my hand drawn style, so you won't find any deep dives here! This is just my tips in case you'd like to draw in the way I do.


I also keep my style looking hand drawn - looking as it would if I were to draw it on a piece of paper, so even though there are so many more tricks that Procreate offers, like symmetrical drawing, I don't use them, because I try to resist the perfection drawing on an iPad so temptingly offers.


So, with that said, let's get into it.


PENCILS


Tip 1: find authentic pencils


I'm starting with the pencils that I use the most. That is this set, called Chromagraph, from True Grit texture supply. My go to is the 'silky sketcher', set quite thinly. I did add a bit more stabilisation to this brush, because I noticed that my lines could look much more shaky than they would do in real life. But other than that, all the settings remain the same.



I also use the standard pencils a lot that come with Procreate. The ones I use the most are:

  • The gouache brush under 'Painting'

  • The technical pen under 'Inking'


SETUP


Tip 2: set up your iPad in a way that makes it feel analogue


I have the iPad pro 12, with the screen covered with something called Paperlike, which makes the screen feel like paper. Without it, my pencil slipped a lot across the shiny screen.


I also have an apple pencil, which is one of my 'must haves' for any artist using Procreate. I haven't bought any different tips for it yet, but I fully intend to investigate what's out there. I'd love it if I could get a finer point, maybe with just a tad more friction.


FIXING BLURRY LINES


Tip 3: Fix your blurry lines


For ages, I'd adjust the size of the things I'd drawn and they'd go blurry. I had no idea why. But, I found a tip. When you have something selected that you want to resize, click on the arrow at the top, which brings up the menu at the bottom. In that menu it has an option which is automatically set to nearest neighbour. Change it to bicubic instead and it helps a lot. Especially if you're resizing drawing of little buildings to fit on a map, as I always end up doing.


Image showing where to select bicubic in Procreate
Image showing where to select bicubic in Procreate

BRINGING UP THE DRAWING GUIDE


Tip 4: make use of the drawing guide (but not too much!)


A drawing guide helps no end when creating maps. I use it for creating the borders, and making sure I'm not within bleed lines for printing. One of the most useful things I've found is how to edit it, so that you can make the grid lines smaller or larger.


You can also create perspective gridlines, so you select the 'vanishing point' (the place your eye is drawn to), and it gives you lines emanating from there. This is particularly handy if you're drawing a little 3d building and you want to get the perspective right.


It is also where you can select 'symmetry', which will help you to get the parts of a drawing symmetrical, excellent if you want one side to be the same as the other, such as when you are drawing a compass rose. I don't use it, for reasons stated earlier, but it is so much easier.


  1. Go to the spanner symbol on the top right hand corner

  2. Select 'drawing guide' to turn it on

  3. Select 'Edit drawing guide'

  4. This will bring up a menu at the bottom, from which you can change the features I've just spoken about


where to find the drawing guide in procreate
Image showing where to find the drawing guide in procreate

USE A CLIPPING MASK


Tip 5: create your own hand drawn texture and use it in a clipping mask


Sometimes, if I want to create a hand drawn texture, I create a clipping mask using a specific hand drawn texture.


I created the texture by colouring in a sheet of plain paper with my ink pen and some oak gall ink. I then scanned and uploaded the image, and I pull it into procreate whenever I need it. Take a look at the images below to see if you can spot the difference.



The panda on the left has the texture laid over it, the one on the right doesn't.


Here's how you can create a clipping mask yourself:

  1. Select the layer you want to put the mask over, in my case, this was the panda

  2. Go to the spanner at the top left of the Procreate window, click it, then click 'insert file'

  3. Insert your hand drawn texture file

  4. Go back into layers, then click on the hand drawn texture layer, then click 'clipping mask' in the menu that comes up

  5. Procreate then applies this onto the layer below it

  6. Once the layer is applied, you can go to the little letter 'N', which is next to the texture image in the layer list

  7. Click on the letter N, and it gives you different options for applying the texture, some are more pronounced, others are more subtle. I like to either scroll up and use 'Multiply' or scroll down and use 'soft light'. I usually bring down the opacity too, to make it look more natural.


In my case, I wanted the texture layer to be black and white, but it's brown. To adjust this, I just took out all the saturation from the image (under the magic wand in the top left). IT then becomes black and white.




RESIST PERFECTION


Tip 6: leave the imperfect bits in


It is so easy to get everything perfect on the iPad. I mean, why not just rub out that little stray line, right? But by doing so, you take away from the hand drawn style. If it's not an outright mistake, consider leaving it in.


CONCLUSION


So there you have it, my top tips for using Procreate with a hand drawn style:

  1. Find authentic pencils (I found Chromagraph)

  2. Get the setup feeling more analogue (I use paperlike and an apple pencil)

  3. Fix your blurry lines if you've resized

  4. Use the drawing guide to help (but not too much!)

  5. Use a clipping mask with a hand drawn texture (I created my own texture by colouring a sheet in with my dip pen and some brown ink)

  6. Resist perfection


I hope you enjoyed this! Feel free to post questions below and I'll do my best to help!


If you're interested in my style, take a look at my series on how to draw your own map, starting with part 1, how to draw a compass rose.


As always, thanks for reading.

Nx

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