Animating in Procreate: 5 Practical Tips & Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Optimize Your Workflow with Layers
  2. Use Onion Skinning for Smooth Transitions
  3. Experiment with Frame Rates
  4. Incorporate Custom Brushes
  5. Leverage Procreate's Built-In Text Tool

Getting into animation in Procreate can feel like a whole new world of creativity. It's not just about making your art come to life; it's about discovering an entirely new way to express your ideas and tell your stories. It's a journey, so let's take it one step at a time. In this guide, we'll walk through five practical tips to get you animating in Procreate like a pro. Let's dive in, shall we?

Optimize Your Workflow with Layers

The first step in mastering animation in Procreate is understanding how to optimize your workflow with layers. Layers are like the backbone of your animation, giving you the flexibility to modify, rearrange, and edit various elements of your animation without affecting the entire piece.

Understanding Layers

Think of layers in Procreate like sheets of clear plastic stacked on top of each other. You can draw on each sheet separately, see through it to the sheets below, and move them around as you wish. When you layer your animations, you can control each aspect of your drawing separately, giving you a lot more flexibility and control.

Managing Layers

  • Organize your layers: It's easy to lose track of your work when you're dealing with multiple layers. Keep things tidy by naming each layer based on what it contains or its purpose in the animation.
  • Use layer groups: Procreate allows you to group layers together. This feature is handy when you have elements that move together in the animation.
  • Turn visibility on and off: If you want to focus on a particular layer or group of layers, you can turn the visibility of other layers off. This way, you won't get distracted by the rest of your animation.

Making the Most of Layers in Animation

When it comes to animation in Procreate, layers are your best friend. Here's a tip: use separate layers for each step of your animation. This way, you can easily modify or tweak a single step without messing up the rest of your work. For complex animations, you can also use layers to break down the animation into smaller, manageable pieces. Just remember: the more you understand and use layers, the easier it will be to animate in Procreate.

Use Onion Skinning for Smooth Transitions

Onion skinning is a fantastic tool in your animation toolkit. This technique allows you to see multiple frames at once, making it easier to create smooth, flowing transitions in your animations. If you've ever watched a flipbook animation, you've seen onion skinning in action! Let's break it down:

What is Onion Skinning?

Onion skinning in Procreate involves showing a faint image of the previous and next frames while you're working on the current frame. This way, you can see exactly how your animation flows from one frame to the next, making it easier to create smooth transitions.

How to Use Onion Skinning

  1. Activate Onion Skinning: In Procreate, go to the Actions menu, tap on Canvas, and then turn on Onion Skin Opacity.
  2. Adjust the settings: You can adjust the opacity of the previous and next frames to suit your preference. A lower opacity means the frames will be fainter, while a higher opacity makes them more visible.
  3. Start animating: Now you're ready to start drawing your frames. With onion skinning enabled, you'll be able to see how your current frame fits into the flow of the animation, helping you create smoother transitions.

Best Practices for Onion Skinning

While onion skinning can be a huge help in creating smooth transitions, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. First, don't rely solely on onion skinning. Use it as a guide, but also take the time to play back your animation frequently to see how it's coming along. Second, remember that onion skinning can make your canvas look crowded, especially when you're working with complex animations. Don't be afraid to adjust the onion skin opacity or even turn it off temporarily if it's getting in the way. The goal is to make your animation in Procreate process smoother, not more complicated.

Experiment with Frame Rates

Frame rate is another key aspect to consider when creating animations in Procreate. It controls how fast your animation plays back. Frame rate can have a big impact on the feel of your animation, so it's worth taking the time to experiment with different rates to see what works best for your project.

Understanding Frame Rates

Frame rate is measured in frames per second (fps). A higher frame rate means your animation will play back faster, while a lower frame rate will make it play back more slowly. For example, a frame rate of 24 fps is standard for most animations, while a frame rate of 12 fps will give your animation a slower, more stylized look.

How to Adjust Frame Rates in Procreate

  1. Open the settings: Tap on the wrench icon in the top left corner of Procreate, then select 'Canvas'.
  2. Find the Animation Assist: Scroll down until you find 'Animation Assist' and turn it on.
  3. Set your frame rate: In the bottom toolbar, tap 'Settings' and then adjust the frame rate to your desired speed. Remember, you can always change this later if you find it's not quite right for your animation.

Experimenting with Frame Rates

There's no one-size-fits-all frame rate for animation in Procreate. What works best will largely depend on the style and mood you're aiming for. A quick, energetic animation might benefit from a higher frame rate, while a more thoughtful, deliberate animation might be better suited to a lower frame rate. Don't be afraid to experiment with different frame rates to see what brings your animations to life.

Incorporate Custom Brushes

Another handy aspect of creating animation in Procreate is the ability to use custom brushes. These are not only fun to use, but they can also add a unique touch to your animation, making it stand out from the crowd.

Why Use Custom Brushes?

Using custom brushes can really elevate your animations in Procreate. They can help you achieve specific textures, styles, and effects that might be difficult to create otherwise. Plus, they can save you a lot of time. Instead of painstakingly creating these effects manually, you can simply select the right brush and get to work.

How to Import Custom Brushes in Procreate

  1. Find your brushes: There are many websites and online communities where you can download Procreate-compatible brushes for free or purchase premium ones.
  2. Download the brush: Once you've found a brush you like, download it. It should come in a .brush or .brushset format.
  3. Import the brush: Open Procreate, then tap on the brush icon. In the brushes panel, swipe down until you see a '+' sign. Tap on it, then select 'Import' and find the brush file you downloaded. It will now be available for you to use in your animations.

Experimenting with Custom Brushes

Once you've imported a few custom brushes, it's time to start experimenting. Try using them in different ways: for backgrounds, for character details, for special effects... the possibilities are limitless. The key is to not be afraid of trying new things. After all, the beauty of animation in Procreate is that it allows you to let your creativity run wild.

Leverage Procreate's Built-In Text Tool

Creating eye-catching animation in Procreate doesn't mean you need to be all about the visuals. Text can play a pivotal role too. Procreate's built-in text tool is a feature that you shouldn't overlook.

Why Use the Text Tool?

Text can add a new dimension to your animation. It can help to tell a story, provide context, or even be the main focus of your animation. And with Procreate's text tool, you can add text with ease, altering its size, font, color, and alignment to suit your animation's style.

How to Use the Text Tool in Procreate

  1. Add text: To add text, simply tap the wrench icon, then choose 'Add Text'. A new layer with a text box will appear.
  2. Edit text: Tap inside the text box to bring up the keyboard and start typing. When you're done, tap 'Done'.
  3. Format text: To change the formatting, tap on your text layer and select 'Edit Style'. Here you can change the font, size, alignment, and more.

Getting Creative with Text

Text in your animation doesn't have to be boring. You can animate it to move across the screen, fade in and out, or even change color. Plus, you can use the text tool alongside custom brushes for even more unique effects. The bottom line? When it comes to animation in Procreate, don't be shy to mix and match tools to create something truly unique.

If you're looking to expand your animation skills in Procreate, we highly recommend checking out the workshop 'Animating with Procreate and Photoshop' by Nyanza. This workshop will provide you with practical tips and techniques to enhance your animation projects using both Procreate and Photoshop. Don't miss this opportunity to level up your animation skills!