Master Procreate Brushes: Guide to Illustration Techniques
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Getting familiar with Procreate brushes
  2. How to choose the right brush
  3. Creating textures with brushes
  4. Blending colors with brushes
  5. How to create your own brushes
  6. How to import and export brushes
  7. How to organize your brushes
  8. Illustration techniques using brushes
  9. Troubleshooting common problems
  10. Practicing with Procreate brushes

Are you ready to take your illustration game to the next level? If you're a Procreate user, brushes are your secret weapon to creating stunning illustrations. This guide will walk you through how to use brushes in Procreate for illustrations. It's not just about selecting a brush and starting to draw; it's about understanding the power of Procreate brushes, choosing the right ones, and using them to their full potential. Let's dive into this exciting world, shall we?

Getting familiar with Procreate brushes

Procreate offers a diverse range of brushes, each with their unique attributes. To use brushes effectively for illustrations, you first need to understand the basics. So, let's get started:

  • Types of brushes: Procreate comes with a variety of brushes. There are sketching brushes, painting brushes, artistic brushes, airbrushes, textures, elements, and more. Knowing what each type of brush does can help you make the right choice for your illustration.
  • Brush settings: Each brush in Procreate has its own settings. This includes stroke properties, shape, and grain. You can adjust these settings to alter the brush's appearance and behavior.
  • Pressure sensitivity: One of the key features of Procreate brushes is pressure sensitivity. This means, the harder you press, the thicker or more intense the brush stroke becomes. This is particularly useful when you want to add depth and dimension to your illustrations.
  • Brush size and opacity: The sliders on the side of the screen allow you to adjust the brush size and opacity. The larger the brush size, the broader the strokes. The higher the opacity, the more solid and less transparent the strokes will be.

Now that you're familiar with the basics, you're one step closer to mastering how to use brushes in Procreate for illustrations. But remember, knowing is only half the battle. You also need to practice — a lot. So, pick up your iPad, fire up Procreate, and start experimenting with different brushes.

How to choose the right brush

So, you now know about the types of brushes and their settings in Procreate. The next step in learning how to use brushes in Procreate for illustration is choosing the right brush for your work. But how do you do that?

Firstly, it's important to remember that there's no one-size-fits-all. The 'right' brush depends on the effect you want to create in your illustration. Here are a few tips to help you make an informed choice:

  • Match the brush with the texture: If you're trying to create a specific texture in your illustration, choose a brush that mimics that texture. For example, if you want a rough, gritty texture, a charcoal brush would be a good choice.
  • Think about the size: If you're working on a large canvas, you might need a larger brush to cover more area. Conversely, if you're working on a small, detailed piece, a smaller brush would be more suitable.
  • Consider the stroke: Different brushes create different strokes. Some brushes create smooth, fluid strokes, while others create rough, broken strokes. The choice of brush depends on the style of stroke you want in your illustration.
  • Experiment: Don't be afraid to try different brushes. Sometimes, a brush you never thought you'd use might end up being the perfect fit for your illustration.

Finding the right brush can be a trial and error process, but that's part of the fun. The more you experiment, the more you'll discover and the better your illustrations will be. So, let the brush choosing games begin!

Creating textures with brushes

Creating textures in your illustrations adds depth and realism, and Procreate brushes are just the tools for the job. So, how do you use brushes in Procreate to create textures? Let's find out.

Textures in Procreate are all about layering. Think of it like making a sandwich—the more layers you have, the more flavorful it becomes. In the same way, combining different brush strokes on multiple layers can create a rich variety of textures in your illustration.

  • Choose your base layer: Start by choosing a brush that will create your base texture. This can be any brush that gives you the desired effect. For example, if you want a grainy texture, you might choose a chalk brush as your base.
  • Add a second layer: Create a new layer above your base and choose another brush to add a second texture. This could be a brush that adds detail, like a fine liner brush for tiny dots or lines.
  • Experiment with blend modes: Procreate has several blend modes that change how your layers interact with each other. Try changing the blend mode on your second layer to see how it alters the overall texture.
  • Keep adding layers: Don't stop at just two layers. The more layers you add, the more complex your texture becomes. Just remember to vary your brushes and blend modes to keep things interesting.

Remember, creating textures is a creative process. Don't be afraid to play around and see what happens. You might be surprised at the textures you can create with brushes in Procreate!

Blending colors with brushes

Color blending is a fundamental skill in digital illustration, and Procreate makes it very intuitive by emulating the natural mixing of colors. You might be wondering, "how do I use brushes in Procreate to blend colors in my illustrations?" Let's break it down.

Blending colors in Procreate is similar to mixing paint on a palette. You pick two colors and merge them together to create a smooth transition. The magic happens when you choose the right brush for this process.

  • Use a soft brush: For blending, a soft brush is usually your best friend. It helps merge the colors together smoothly without leaving harsh lines. You can find some great soft brushes in the Airbrushing set in Procreate.
  • Play with opacity: Adjusting the opacity of your brush can greatly affect your blending. A lower opacity will allow you to blend more subtly, while a higher opacity will result in stronger color transitions.
  • Experiment with pressure: If you're using a pressure-sensitive stylus, the amount of pressure you apply while blending can make a big difference. Light pressure can create a gentle blend, while heavy pressure can blend colors more aggressively.
  • Use the smudge tool: The smudge tool, which works like a brush, is another great way to blend colors. It's as though you're smudging wet paint on a canvas. Experiment with different brushes with the smudge tool for various blending effects.

Keep in mind that the goal of blending is to create a seamless transition between colors. It might take some practice to get it right, but once you do, you'll be able to create stunning gradients and soft shadows in your illustrations using Procreate brushes.

How to create your own brushes

Creating your own brushes in Procreate can feel like a game changer. It opens up an entire world of personalization in your illustrations. So, how do you use brushes in Procreate to craft your very own tools? Let's walk through the process.

Firstly, you'll need to open the brush library and tap the "+" icon to create a new brush. This will open up a menu with a multitude of settings you can adjust to make the brush look and behave exactly as you want. Here are some key settings you might want to tweak:

  • Shape Source: This defines the shape of your brush. You can use any black and white image here. Black areas will create the brush's imprint while white areas will be transparent.
  • Grain Source: This influences the texture of your brush. Again, any black and white image can be used here.
  • Dynamics: This controls how your brush reacts to your stylus's pressure and tilt, allowing you to simulate the behavior of real-world brushes.
  • Liquify: This changes how the brush flows on your canvas, enabling you to create unique effects like a swirling paint or a dripping ink.

Creating your own brushes might take a bit of trial and error, but it's worth it. By experimenting with different settings, you can create a set of unique brushes that fits your style perfectly and takes your illustrations to a whole new level. Remember, the only limit is your imagination!

How to import and export brushes

Now that you know how to create your own brushes, it's time to learn how to share them with others or import new ones to your Procreate brush library. This feature is especially useful when you want to use brushes created by other artists or when you want to use your brushes across different devices. So, how do you use a brush in Procreate to import and export?

To import a brush, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to your brush library and tap the "+" icon.
  2. Select "Import" from the dropdown menu.
  3. Browse your files and select the brush file you want to import. Procreate brush files usually have a ".brush" or ".brushset" extension.
  4. Once imported, the new brush will appear in your brush library.

And here's how to export a brush:

  1. Select the brush you want to export from your brush library.
  2. Tap on the "Share" button in the brush settings menu.
  3. Choose where you want to save or share the brush file.

And voila! You are now a pro at importing and exporting brushes in Procreate. The world of digital art is at your fingertips—go ahead and start exploring!

How to organize your brushes

As you continue to explore and create with Procreate, you might find yourself amassing a collection of brushes. While it's great to have options, a cluttered brush library can slow down your creative process. So, let's learn how to organize your brushes in Procreate for a smoother illustration experience.

First off, Procreate allows you to create brush sets. These are essentially folders where you can group related brushes together. Say, you have a set of brushes specifically for sketching, another for painting, and maybe a few for adding textures. Sounds neat, right? Here's how you can do this:

  1. Tap the "+" icon at the top-right corner of the brush library.
  2. Give your new brush set a name. Try to make it descriptive enough so you'll know what's inside at a glance.
  3. Now, to add brushes to your set, simply drag and drop them into the set. You can also duplicate brushes if you want to use them in multiple sets.

But what if you want to reorder your brushes or brush sets? No problem, Procreate has you covered:

  1. To move a brush within a set or to another set, press and hold the brush, then drag it to its new location.
  2. To reorder brush sets, tap "Edit" at the top-right corner of the brush library, then drag the sets to rearrange them.

Organizing your Procreate brushes might seem like a chore at first, but trust me, it's worth the effort. When your tools are in order, you can spend more time creating and less time searching for that perfect brush. So, are you ready to tidy up your brush library?

Illustration techniques using brushes

Now that you're familiar with how to use brushes in Procreate for illustration, let's delve into some techniques that can elevate your artwork. Whether you're sketching, shading, or adding final touches, there's a brush technique for you.

1. Layering: By building up layers of color gradually, you can create depth and complexity in your illustrations. Start with a light base color and gradually add more layers with the brush opacity set to a lower value. Remember, it's easier to add more color than to take it away, so take it slow!

2. Hatching and Cross Hatching: These classic techniques involve drawing parallel lines (hatching) or intersecting lines (cross-hatching) to create shadows and depth. Try using a fine-tipped brush for this, and remember, the closer the lines are, the darker the area will appear.

3. Stippling: This technique involves creating a pattern or texture by making lots and lots of tiny dots. It's a time-consuming process, but the end result can be stunning. For stippling, use a brush with a hard edge and no opacity variation.

4. Dry Brush: Want to create a textured, almost 'scratchy' effect? The dry brush technique might be just what you're looking for. For this, you'll need a brush that has a texture to it, and you'll want to use quick, directional strokes.

Remember, just like with traditional art, digital art techniques take time and practice to master. So don't be discouraged if your first few attempts don't turn out exactly as you envisioned. Keep experimenting with different brushes and techniques, and most importantly, have fun with it!

Troubleshooting Common Problems

As with any tool, you might encounter a few hiccups while learning how to use brushes in Procreate for illustration. Here are solutions to some common problems you might face:

1. Brush Not Responding: If your brush isn't painting or responding, check the layer you're working on. It's possible you've reached the layer limit or the layer is locked. Make sure you've selected the correct layer and it's unlocked for your artwork.

2. Brush Strokes Not Visible: If you can't see your brush strokes, the brush opacity might be too low. Check your brush settings and increase the opacity to make your strokes visible.

3. Brush Lag: If your brush is lagging, it could be due to a large canvas size, a complex brush, or too many active layers. Try reducing the canvas size, simplifying the brush, or merging some layers to resolve the lag.

4. Unable to Import Brushes: If you're having trouble importing brushes, the file format might be incorrect. Procreate supports .brush and .brushset file formats. Ensure your file is in the right format before importing.

5. Brushes Not Saving: If your brushes aren't saving, you might be running out of storage space on your device. Check your storage and free up some space if needed.

These solutions will help you overcome common issues and keep your workflow running smoothly. But remember, the Procreate community is a fantastic resource if you're stuck. Sometimes, the best solution is a shared one!

Practicing with Procreate Brushes

Now that we've covered the basics and handled common issues, it's time to put those brushes to work with some practice. Here are a few tips for how to use brushes in Procreate for illustration effectively in your practice sessions:

1. Start Simple: When you're first starting, stick with simple brushes. Using a basic brush, like the Round Brush, allows you to focus on your drawing skills without getting overwhelmed by the complexity of advanced brushes.

2. Use Layers: Layers are your secret weapon when it comes to Procreate illustrations. They allow you to work on different elements of your drawing separately. This way, you can experiment with your brushes without worrying about messing up your entire drawing.

3. Experiment with Blending: Procreate brushes are fantastic for blending colors. Try using different brushes to blend colors and see what effects you can achieve. The Soft Brush is a great tool for creating smooth, blended transitions.

4. Create Textures: Brushes can also be used to create textures in your illustrations. Use different brushes to add grain, create a rough texture, or simulate the look of different materials.

5. Practice Regularly: Like any skill, the more you practice, the better you'll get. Set aside some time each day to experiment with different brushes and techniques. You'll be surprised at how quickly you improve!

Remember, the key to mastering Procreate brushes is practice and experimentation. Don't be afraid to make mistakes—that's how you learn. So, grab your stylus, select a brush, and start creating!

If you're excited to enhance your illustration skills using Procreate brushes, don't miss the workshop 'How to Draw A Fruit In ProCreate' by Vicky Catalan. In this workshop, you'll learn step-by-step techniques for creating stunning illustrations of fruits using Procreate brushes. This is the perfect opportunity to apply the techniques you've learned in this blog post and level up your digital illustration skills.