A Beginner’s Guide to Procreate

JAN 13, 2020 updated Jul 26, 2021

It’s no secret the Spoonflower community has caught the Procreate bug! At just $10, the raster graphics editor app for digital painting allows you to create expressive sketches, rich paintings, gorgeous illustrations and beautiful animations all from the comfort of your couch. If you’re still not convinced, find out why Doodle-a-Day creator and Spoonflower designer Rhianna Wurman thinks this is the must-have design tool for any designer.

Find out how you could win an iPad and Apple Pencil just by doodling once a day.

Rhianna: I started working with Procreate in 2016 when I began my 100 day project called 100 Unlikely Combinations. I thought a new project would be a great way to learn the app, learn some new techniques, play with texture, and expand my knowledge of digital tablet art. Procreate immediately proved to be a valuable tool in my design process.

I turned one of my first Procreate designs for this project, Ice Cream & Pickles, into a pattern for my Spoonflower shop, and I’ve been using it to create patterns ever since.

Procreate has helped me streamline my design process, making it easier to create and share digital art wherever I am, even from my couch! It gives me more freedom to play and experiment without the fear of making a mistake I can’t undo. I can move elements of my design around quickly with the selection tool, and focus on one thing at a time, zooming in to be accurate with little details. I can create professional client work right from my iPad, which is pretty incredible!

My design aesthetic has organically evolved because of Procreate. I’ve learned how to incorporate interesting textures into my work, giving it more character and depth. I’ve been able to create more of a scene around my illustrations with the use of the layers feature. Procreate seamlessly works with Adobe® Photoshop® and has a lot of the same features, which made it easier for me to learn having already known Photoshop. I can quickly export a layered image I created in Procreate right into Photoshop and play around with it even further, or reformat it if I need to. It’s like magic!

Procreate is a dream tool for designers because of its accessibility, portability, and the overall fun factor of experimentation. It’s also inexpensive at $9.99! Being able to create digital art right at your fingertips with so many fun brushes and tools is exciting because there are endless possibilities! You can create a very clean and polished design, or create something organic that looks like it was done with traditional mediums. It’s easy to import and trace your own drawings from your sketchbook, or create something new directly on your iPad. It enables Spoonflower designers to create seamless patterns in such a fun and convenient way!

Rhianna's Favorite Procreate Brushes | Spoonflower Blog

Dry Ink
I use this brush for most of my line work and sketching. I like the slightly gritty texture. It’s also nice to fill shapes with this brush.

Studio Pen
This is another great brush for line work. It’s very clean and smooth. I love the variation in thick and thin you can achieve with your lines with this brush. This is great for lettering and calligraphy.

This brush in the newest version of Procreate has a fun organic texture for filling in shapes.

This is a great textured brush perfect for line work and shapes with some grit and grain to them.

Bonobo Chalk
I love to use this brush to add grainy texture and shadows to my illustrations. You can fill up the page with this brush for a fun background!

This brush in the newest release of Procreate creates a beautiful textured background and is a great way to add texture to shapes as well. It has a watercolor quality with random paint flecks.

Rhianna’s Top 4 Procreate Tips

1. The selection tool is not only useful for selecting and moving objects around, but also for cutting out shapes from a textured background.

2. If you don’t have an iPad but have an iPhone, you can still create with Procreate using the Procreate Pocket app!

3. Using an Apple Pencil will give you more flexibility with the pressure that you apply to your iPad. If you don’t have an Apple Pencil, you can still create as long as you have a stylus.

4. You can watch a time-lapse video of your project by going to Actions in the toolbar, then Video, then Time-lapse Replay. You can also then export your time-lapse video to share your process with others.

Rhianna’s 8 Go-To Procreate Shortcuts

1. Use a three-finger swipe down motion to quick cut, copy and paste.

2. Hold and drag a brush stroke to make a straight line, do this and simultaneously hold your finger on the screen to make a perfect straight line.

3. Drag a color with your pencil/finger to a shape or the background to fill it with that color.

Shorcut #2

Shorcut #3

4. Double tap two fingers to undo any action.

5. You can select multiple layers and move or resize them together by tapping on one layer and sliding any other layers you want to temporarily group to the right. This will select the layers all at once without having to merge them.

6. Your eraser library is the same as your brush library. You can easily switch your eraser to the same brush you’re using by tapping and holding the eraser icon to “erase with current brush.” This tip also works the same way if you want to brush with the same brush as your eraser.

Shortcut #5

Shortcut #6

7. You can stabilize curved strokes of a line by going to Brush Properties and increasing the value of Streamline, found under Stroke Path. This is a great way to get smooth lettering.

8. Easily add texture to a shape by selecting the layer that contains your shape and swiping with two fingers to the right, this will set it to Alpha Lock. Next pick a lighter or darker hue of the shape’s color and with a textured brush like Bonobo Chalk paint within the shape you have selected.

Join Rhianna and the Spoonflower on Instagram for January’s Doodle-a-Day Challenge!

About the Guest Author

Rhianna Wurman is the owner and illustrator of paper goods company Ello Lovey and the Doodle-A-Day host on Instagram. Her colorful greeting cards and art prints celebrate the whimsy and simplicity of the everyday. When Rhianna isn’t designing, she can be found hiking with her husband in the mountains of Asheville, NC. Follow along with Rhianna’s illustrations and Doodle-A-Day challenges over on her Instagram feed @ellolovey!

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  • How do I email or save to photos the work I have done?

    How do you make the work FILL the screen?

    • Hi Annie,

      You can save or export your work by tapping the wrench icon in the top left corner of your screen, then tap “share,” which leads you to options of where you want your file to be saved, such as your camera roll, email, messages, etc. You can also do this in your main gallery by tapping “select” in the top right corner, selecting which canvas you wish to export, then tap “share.”

      If I’m understanding your second question correctly, you can fill the whole canvas with color by tapping the color circle in the top right corner of your screen and dragging it down onto the canvas itself. You can also use this method to fill in outlines or linework, like an easy digital coloring book!


  • Sandra Mikus

    How big do you make the page and how do you import to spoonflower ? I used to use colourlovers but can’t find this basic information anywhere.

  • I love using Procreate! Great tips! I think you have a typo in the last tip. First step is to select your shape, not the whole layer, right?