Master the Procreate Selection Tool: A Practical Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


Understanding the Procreate Selection Tool

Practical Applications of the Procreate Selection Tool

Advanced Techniques with the Procreate Selection Tool

Procreate Selection Tool Shortcuts and Tips

Troubleshooting Common Procreate Selection Tool Issues

Are you ready to master the Procreate selection tool and take your digital art to the next level? This practical guide is here to help you understand, apply, and troubleshoot the Procreate selection tool with ease. Let's get started!

Understanding the Procreate Selection Tool

The Procreate selection tool is a versatile and powerful feature that allows you to isolate, modify, and manipulate specific areas of your artwork. There are different types of selection methods and options available, which we will discuss in detail below. By learning how to use the Procreate selection tool effectively, you can unlock endless creative possibilities in your digital art.

Selection Types: Automatic, Freehand, and Rectangular

There are three main selection types in Procreate: Automatic, Freehand, and Rectangular. Each type serves a unique purpose and can be used in different scenarios:

  • Automatic: This selection type is perfect for selecting flat areas of color or areas with distinct boundaries. Simply tap on the area you want to select, and Procreate will automatically detect and select the surrounding pixels based on color similarity.
  • Freehand: As the name suggests, this selection type lets you draw your selection area freely using your finger or stylus. It's great for complex shapes or when you need more control over the selection area.
  • Rectangular: This selection type creates a rectangular or square selection area, which is useful for selecting geometric shapes or straight-edged elements in your artwork.

Selection Options: Add, Remove, and Intersect

Once you've made a selection, you can further refine it using the three selection options: Add, Remove, and Intersect. These options provide flexibility and control over your selections:

  • Add: This option allows you to add more areas to your current selection. Simply choose a selection type and draw the new area you'd like to include, and it will be added to the existing selection.
  • Remove: If you need to deselect part of your current selection, use the Remove option. Select the area you'd like to remove, and it will be excluded from the current selection.
  • Intersect: This option lets you create a new selection based on the overlapping areas of two selections. It's perfect for creating unique shapes or refining selections further.

Using Feather for Smooth Transitions

Feathering is a handy feature that can help you create smooth transitions between the selected and unselected areas of your artwork. When you apply a feather to your selection, it softens the edges by gradually decreasing the selection's intensity, creating a more natural and subtle blend.

To use the feather feature in Procreate, simply adjust the slider after making a selection. The higher the feather value, the softer and smoother the transition will be. Experiment with different feather values to achieve the desired effect in your artwork.

Practical Applications of the Procreate Selection Tool

Now that you have a solid understanding of the Procreate selection tool and its features, let's explore some practical applications that can elevate your digital artwork. These examples will demonstrate how the selection tool can be used in various creative scenarios, making your art more engaging and visually appealing.

Isolating Elements for Editing

One of the most common uses of the Procreate selection tool is to isolate specific elements in your artwork for editing. This can help you focus on a particular area without affecting the rest of your piece. For instance, you may want to change the color of a character's shirt or add texture to a background object. Here's how:

  1. Select the layer containing the element you want to isolate.
  2. Choose the appropriate selection type (Automatic, Freehand, or Rectangular) based on the shape and boundaries of the element.
  3. Use the selection options (Add, Remove, or Intersect) to refine your selection if needed.
  4. Once the element is selected, you can make your desired changes, such as adjusting colors, adding effects, or modifying the shape—knowing that only the selected area will be affected.

Creating Shadows and Highlights

Adding shadows and highlights to your artwork can enhance its depth and realism. The Procreate selection tool makes it easy to create these effects without disturbing the rest of your piece. Here's a simple technique for adding shadows and highlights:

  1. Create a new layer above your artwork for the shadow or highlight.
  2. Use the Procreate selection tool to select the area where you want to add the shadow or highlight. Remember to choose the appropriate selection type and adjust the feather for smooth transitions.
  3. With the area selected, use a soft brush to paint the shadow or highlight color. The selection will ensure that the paint only appears within the selected area, creating a clean and precise effect.
  4. Adjust the layer opacity and blend mode as needed to achieve the desired level of intensity and blending with your artwork.

Pattern Making with the Selection Tool

The Procreate selection tool can also be used to create patterns and repeating elements within your artwork. This can add visual interest and consistency to your designs. Here's a step-by-step process to create patterns with the selection tool:

  1. Design a single element of your pattern, such as a shape or icon, on a separate layer.
  2. Use the Rectangular selection type to select the entire element, ensuring there's enough space around it for seamless tiling.
  3. Copy and paste the selected element to create duplicates. Arrange them in a grid or any desired pattern formation.
  4. Use the Add selection option to select multiple elements and duplicate them as a group, speeding up the pattern-making process.
  5. Repeat the process until your entire canvas is filled with the pattern. Merge the pattern layers if needed, and use the newly created pattern as a background or texture in your artwork.

Experiment with different shapes, colors, and arrangements to create unique and eye-catching patterns using the versatile Procreate selection tool.

Advanced Techniques with the Procreate Selection Tool

Now that you're familiar with the basics and some practical applications of the Procreate selection tool, let's take your skills to the next level. In this section, we'll discuss advanced techniques and tips to help you make the most of the selection tool and create even more impressive digital artwork. Get ready to explore new creative possibilities!

Color Replacement for Seamless Edits

Changing colors in your artwork can be a tedious process, but the Procreate selection tool makes it a breeze. With color replacement, you can easily swap colors or apply gradients for a more dynamic look. Here's how:

  1. Use the Automatic selection type to select the color you want to replace.
  2. Adjust the threshold slider to ensure a precise selection. For example, if you're selecting a shade of blue, increasing the threshold will include more blue hues in the selection.
  3. With the desired area selected, tap on the new color you want to use.
  4. Select a suitable brush and paint over the selected area. The new color will replace the old one seamlessly, without affecting other colors or elements in your artwork.

Experiment with different color combinations and gradients to add depth and vibrancy to your art using the Procreate selection tool.

Combining Selections for Complex Shapes

Sometimes, creating complex shapes or selecting intricate areas can be challenging. But fear not! The Procreate selection tool allows you to combine multiple selections in a single action, making it easier to work with intricate designs. Here's how you can create complex shapes by combining selections:

  1. Start by selecting the first part of the shape using the appropriate selection type (Automatic, Freehand, or Rectangular). For example, if you're selecting the petals of a flower, you might use Freehand.
  2. With the first area selected, tap on the "Add" selection option.
  3. Select the next part of the shape using the same or a different selection type. The new selection will be added to the original one, creating a more complex shape.
  4. Continue adding selections until you have created the desired shape. Remember to use the Feather option if you want smooth transitions between the combined selections.

By combining selections, you can tackle even the most intricate designs and unleash the full potential of the Procreate selection tool.

Masking Techniques for Non-Destructive Editing

Masking is a powerful editing technique that allows you to make changes to your artwork without permanently altering the original image. The Procreate selection tool can be used to create precise masks for non-destructive editing. Here's how:

  1. Create a new layer above the one you want to edit, and tap on the layer thumbnail to open the Layer Options menu.
  2. Select "Mask" from the menu to create a layer mask. You'll notice that the new layer is linked to the original one, and its thumbnail is filled with black.
  3. Use the Procreate selection tool to select the area you want to edit. For example, if you want to brighten a character's face, select the face area.
  4. With the area selected, use a soft white brush to paint over the mask layer. The white areas of the mask will reveal the changes you make, while the black areas will remain unaffected.
  5. Adjust the opacity, blend modes, or brush settings as needed, and make your desired edits to the original layer.

With masking techniques and the Procreate selection tool, you can edit your artwork confidently, knowing that your original image remains safe and unaltered.

By mastering these advanced techniques, you'll be well-equipped to tackle any creative challenge and make the most of the Procreate selection tool. Keep practicing, experimenting, and pushing your artistic boundaries—your digital artwork will surely shine!

Procreate Selection Tool Shortcuts and Tips

As you continue to hone your skills with the Procreate selection tool, incorporating shortcuts and tips into your workflow will make your creative process more efficient and enjoyable. In this section, we'll explore some handy shortcuts and tips that will help you get the most out of the Procreate selection tool. So, let's dive right in and start making your digital art journey even smoother!

Using the Quick Menu for Faster Selections

Time is of the essence when you're in the creative zone, and the Quick Menu can be your best friend in achieving faster selections. This customizable menu offers easy access to the Procreate selection tool and other frequently used actions. To set up the Quick Menu, follow these steps:

  1. Open Procreate's main menu by tapping on the "Actions" tab (the wrench icon).
  2. Tap on "Prefs" and then "QuickMenu."
  3. Customize the menu by assigning the Procreate selection tool and other desired actions to the six available slots.

Now you can access the Quick Menu by simply tapping and holding the canvas with one finger. Say goodbye to wasted time searching through menus and hello to a more streamlined creative process!

Transforming Selections Efficiently

Transforming selections is a powerful way to modify your artwork, and with the Procreate selection tool, it's a breeze. You can easily scale, rotate, or move selected areas without affecting other parts of your canvas. To make the most of this feature, keep these tips in mind:

  • Uniform scaling: To maintain the proportions of your selection while scaling, simply pinch the selected area with two fingers. No more wonky shapes!
  • Rotating: To rotate your selection smoothly, place one finger on the canvas while rotating with a second finger. This gives you more control, ensuring your artwork stays on point.
  • Moving: To move your selection without accidentally deselecting, tap and drag the area inside the selection boundary, not the dotted line itself.

With these tips, you'll be able to transform your selections like a pro, giving your digital art the polish it deserves.

Saving Selections for Future Use

Ever spent ages creating a perfect selection, only to realize you'll need to use it again later? Fear not! Procreate has your back. You can save your selections as a "clipping mask" for future use, ensuring you don't have to recreate them from scratch. Here's how:

  1. Once you've made your selection, create a new layer above the one you're working on.
  2. Tap the new layer's thumbnail, and select "Clipping Mask" from the Layer Options menu. The new layer will now be linked to the original one, and your selection will be preserved.

Now, whenever you need that selection again, just tap on the clipping mask layer, and your previous selection will be restored. This not only saves you time but also maintains the consistency of your artwork.

By incorporating these shortcuts and tips into your creative process, you'll find that the Procreate selection tool becomes an even more powerful ally in your digital art journey. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep experimenting and exploring new ways to use the selection tool to bring your artistic vision to life.

Troubleshooting Common Procreate Selection Tool Issues

As with any powerful tool, mastering the Procreate selection tool might come with a few bumps in the road. But don't worry, we've got you covered! In this section, we'll tackle some common issues you may encounter while using the Procreate selection tool and offer practical solutions to get you back on track. So, let's dive into these troubleshooting tips and smooth out those pesky selection tool challenges!

Inaccurate Selections and How to Fix Them

Nothing is more frustrating than making a selection only to find out it's not quite right. Inaccurate selections can be caused by a few factors:

  • Low-resolution images: If you're working with a low-resolution image, the Procreate selection tool might struggle to accurately identify the boundaries of your desired area. To avoid this issue, try using higher resolution images whenever possible.
  • Zoom level: When zoomed out, it can be difficult to create precise selections. Try zooming in closer to the area you want to select for better accuracy.
  • Threshold settings: If you're using the Automatic selection type, the threshold setting can greatly affect the accuracy of your selection. Adjust the threshold slider to fine-tune the selection and achieve the desired result.

By addressing these factors, you can greatly improve the accuracy of your selections and make the Procreate selection tool work like a charm.

Understanding Selection Boundaries

When working with the Procreate selection tool, it's important to understand the role of selection boundaries. These boundaries, represented by a dotted line, define the area that you have selected. Here are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • Active selections: When a selection is active, you can only make changes within the boundaries. This means that any brush strokes, transformations, or adjustments will only affect the selected area.
  • Modifying boundaries: You can modify the selection boundaries by using the Add, Remove, and Intersect options. These options allow you to expand, reduce, or create new selection areas based on your needs.
  • Deactivating selections: When you're done with a selection, simply tap outside the boundaries to deactivate it. This will return your canvas to normal, allowing you to make adjustments to other areas.

By understanding selection boundaries, you'll be able to utilize the Procreate selection tool more effectively and create stunning digital artwork.

Layer Issues and the Selection Tool

Layers are an essential part of any digital art workflow, but they can sometimes cause confusion when using the Procreate selection tool. Here are some common layer-related issues and their solutions:

  • Selection on the wrong layer: If you accidentally make a selection on the wrong layer, simply tap the correct layer in the Layers panel and then tap "Select" to transfer the selection to the intended layer.
  • Invisible layers: If you can't see your selection, it's possible that the layer is hidden. To fix this, locate the layer in the Layers panel and tap the checkbox to make the layer visible again.
  • Layer limits: Procreate has a limit on the number of layers you can use in a single canvas. If you're unable to create a new layer, try merging or deleting unused layers to free up space.

By keeping these layer tips in mind, you'll be able to overcome any layer-related issues and make the most of the Procreate selection tool in your digital art projects.

With these troubleshooting tips under your belt, you're well-equipped to tackle any challenges that come your way while using the Procreate selection tool. Don't forget, practice makes perfect, so keep experimenting and refining your skills to create amazing digital artwork that truly showcases your artistic talents.

If you enjoyed our practical guide on mastering the Procreate Selection Tool and want to dive deeper into the world of digital art, don't miss Sameera Maruvada's workshop, 'Procreate Basics: Making Digital Art'. This workshop will help you build a strong foundation in Procreate and enhance your digital art skills. Don't miss this opportunity to take your creativity to new heights!