Procreate Digital Painting: Effective Improvement Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Adopt the right brushes
  2. Use layers effectively
  3. Play with blending modes
  4. Experiment with colors
  5. Try different brush strokes
  6. Create custom brushes
  7. Improve your line art
  8. Establish strong lighting
  9. Add textures to your paintings
  10. Practice regularly

Getting better at digital painting in Procreate can feel like a tall task, but with the right tips and tricks, it can be a breeze. Whether you're a novice or have some experience under your belt, this guide will give you practical advice to refine your digital painting skills in Procreate.

Adopt the right brushes

Brushes can make or break your digital painting in Procreate. You'd be surprised at how much of a difference the right brush can make. Here are some tips to help you select the ideal brushes:

  • Understand your Brushes: Procreate comes loaded with a variety of brushes, each with unique properties. Spend time familiarizing yourself with different brushes and their effects. For instance, the 'Studio Pen' is great for inking, while the '6B Pencil' is perfect for sketching.
  • Think about your Style: Your choice of brushes should resonate with your painting style. If you're into realism, the 'Oil Paint' brush might be your best bet. Meanwhile, those into comic art might prefer the 'Inking' brush set.
  • Consider your Subject: The subject of your painting also plays a role in brush selection. For example, the 'Fur' brush works wonders when painting animals, and the 'Water' brush is ideal for painting seascapes.

Remember, getting better at digital painting in Procreate is about more than just having the right tools—it's about knowing how to use them. The more you experiment with different brushes, the more you'll understand their impact on your artwork.

Use layers effectively

You may wonder, why layers? Well, using layers effectively is a game-changer when it comes to improving your digital painting in Procreate. Think of layers like a stack of transparent papers. You can draw on each one without disturbing the rest, allowing for flexibility and creativity. Here's how to use layers effectively:

  • Organize Your Work: Think of each layer as a different part of your painting. For example, you can use one layer for the background, another for the mid-ground, and another for the foreground. It's like arranging puzzle pieces—you can move, resize, or even hide these pieces individually without impacting the overall image.
  • Preserve Your Art: Ever made a mistake and wished you could undo it without affecting the rest of your painting? That's where layers come in handy. Say you're not happy with the tree you just painted—you can simply delete or adjust that particular layer without disturbing your beautiful sunset in the background.
  • Experiment Without Fear: Layers allow you to try out new things without the fear of ruining your entire painting. Want to see what your landscape would look like at night instead of day? Add a new layer and paint a dark overlay—you don't like it? No problem, just delete the layer!

So next time you're working on getting better at digital painting in Procreate, try adding a few extra layers. It might take some getting used to, but once you've mastered it, you'll wonder how you ever painted without them!

Play with blending modes

Blending modes are a bit like magic. They can transform your artwork in ways that are hard to achieve with traditional painting. The trick to getting better at digital painting in Procreate is to understand and play with these blending modes. Here's how they can help:

  • Add Depth: Ever wonder how some digital paintings have such an impressive sense of depth? The secret may be in the blending modes. By overlaying different colors and textures, blending modes can create a sense of depth and dimension in your work that's hard to achieve otherwise.
  • Texture Effects: With blending modes, you can create a wide variety of texture effects. You can make your painting look like it's on a rough canvas, a smooth piece of plastic, or even a piece of old, weathered wood. The possibilities are endless!
  • Color Interaction: Blending modes can change how colors interact with each other in your painting. You can create glowing effects, shadows, reflections, and much more. It's like having a whole new set of colors at your disposal!

Blending modes are an integral part of Procreate and using them effectively can dramatically improve your digital art. So don't be afraid to experiment and see what you can create. Remember, the more you play with blending modes, the better you get at digital painting in Procreate.

Experiment with colors

Understanding color theory is a key part of any artist's journey, but when it comes to getting better at digital painting in Procreate, it's also about experimenting with colors and pushing your boundaries.

You see, digital platforms like Procreate offer an almost infinite palette of colors. It's easy to stick to what you know and use the same colors over and over. But have you ever considered using a vibrant purple to shade yellow? Or a deep green for shadows in a red apple? Sounds crazy, right? But the results can be unexpectedly beautiful.

  • Color Harmony: Learning about color relationships can help you create balanced and harmonious designs. The color wheel is your best friend here. Use it to identify complementary colors, split-complementary colors, and more. Don't worry if this sounds confusing now, with practice, it will become second nature.
  • Mood and Atmosphere: Colors play a significant role in setting the mood of your artwork. Warm colors can evoke feelings of happiness and energy, while cool colors can create a sense of calm or sadness. Try to be conscious of this when selecting your colors.
  • Contrast and Drama: Use colors to create contrast and add drama to your paintings. A bright color against a dull background can make your subject pop, drawing the viewer's attention where you want it.

Remember, the more you experiment with colors, the more you will discover about your own personal style and preferences. So go ahead, step out of your comfort zone, and you'll find yourself getting better at digital painting in Procreate in no time.

Try different brush strokes

Just like traditional painting, digital painting in Procreate also involves a good deal of brushwork. The kind of brush strokes you use can drastically change the look and feel of your artwork. However, if you're used to painting with just one type of stroke, your art might start to feel a bit monotonous.

But wait, what if you could spice things up a bit? Let's talk about how experimenting with different brush strokes can help you take a leap towards getting better at digital painting in Procreate.

  • Loose Strokes: These are free-flowing strokes that can add a sense of movement and vitality to your artwork. They're perfect for creating a lively environment or capturing the essence of a subject in a quick sketch. Not everything has to be picture-perfect, sometimes a little chaos adds character!
  • Controlled Strokes: These are careful, deliberate strokes that are great for detailing. When painting a close-up of an eye or a delicate flower, controlled strokes will be your go-to.
  • Blended Strokes: These are strokes that seamlessly blend into one another, creating a smooth, soft look. They're ideal for painting skin tones, skies, or any other element that requires a subtle transition of color.

Remember, varying your brush strokes not only adds visual interest to your work but also allows you to express different textures and forms. So next time you pick up your digital pen, don't be afraid to mix things up. You never know, you might just discover a new favorite technique!

Create custom brushes

Using the standard brush sets in Procreate is a great start, but if you want to take a leap in getting better at digital painting in Procreate, creating your custom brushes is a game-changer.

Now, you might think, "Why do I need custom brushes when I have so many already?" Well, here's the thing: Custom brushes can bring your unique style and personality to your artwork. They can help you produce effects and textures that are uniquely yours.

Creating your custom brushes might sound complex, but it's actually quite simple. Here's how you do it:

  1. Start a new canvas: Go to the brushes panel and select the '+' icon to start a new brush.
  2. Shape and Grain: These are the two main elements of a brush. The Shape forms the backbone of the brush while the Grain gives it texture. Play around with these settings until you find a combination that suits your style.
  3. Test your brush: Try out your new brush on a blank canvas. See how it reacts to pressure and tilt. Adjust the settings as necessary until you're satisfied with the result.

And voila! You have your very own custom brush. Remember, creating custom brushes is not just about having more tools in your toolkit; it's about adding a personal touch to your digital artwork in Procreate. So go on, give it a try. You might be surprised at what you can create!

Improve your line art

Line art is like the skeleton of your digital painting—it provides structure and form. Getting better at digital painting in Procreate often means improving your line art.

Smooth, confident lines can give your artwork a polished and professional look. But if you're like most of us, your hand might wobble a bit, resulting in shaky lines. So, how can you improve?

First things first: Procreate has a nifty feature called Streamline. This feature smooths out your strokes, making your lines look more fluid and steady. You can adjust the Streamline settings based on what feels right for you. Remember, the goal is to enhance your natural drawing style, not to replace it.

  1. Use a Stylus: Using a stylus instead of your finger can give you more control over your lines. It might feel a bit awkward at first, but give it some time—you'll get the hang of it.
  2. Draw from the Shoulder, not the Wrist: This is a classic artist's tip. Drawing from the shoulder can give you smoother, more controlled lines. It's also better for your health, helping to prevent wrist strain.
  3. Practice: This is perhaps the most important tip. The more you practice, the more comfortable you'll become with your tools, and the smoother your lines will be. So, pick up your stylus and start drawing!

Paying attention to your line art can make a world of difference in your digital paintings in Procreate. So, don't rush through it. Take your time, practice, and watch your artwork improve.

Establish strong lighting

Lighting is like the spice in a dish—it can transform your digital painting from bland to breathtaking. To get better at digital painting in Procreate, mastering the use of lights and shadows is key.

Lighting determines the mood of your painting and gives it a sense of depth and dimension. However, it can be tricky to get right. But don't worry, with a few tips and a bit of practice, you can establish strong lighting that brings your artwork to life.

  1. Decide on a Light Source: Before you start shading, decide where the light in your painting is coming from. This will determine where the highlights and shadows go. Remember, consistency is important—changing the light source midway can confuse the viewer.
  2. Use Layers: Use separate layers for lights and shadows. This will give you more control over their intensity and color. In Procreate, you can adjust the opacity of each layer, allowing you to fine-tune the lighting to your liking.
  3. Experiment with Colors: Lights and shadows aren't just white and black. They can have colors too! For example, in a sunset scene, the highlights might be a warm orange, while the shadows could be a cool blue. Don't be afraid to experiment with different colors to set the mood of your painting.

Good lighting can make your digital paintings in Procreate more realistic and visually appealing. It's like magic—you can create a sunny day or a moody night with just a few strokes. So, why not give it a try? You might be surprised at what you can achieve.

Add textures to your paintings

Textures are the secret ingredient that can add a touch of realism to your digital paintings in Procreate. They can make your artwork more visually interesting, and even stimulate the sense of touch in your viewers. But, how do you add textures to your Procreate paintings? Let's get into it.

  1. Use Texture Brushes: Procreate comes with a variety of texture brushes you can use. Each brush has its own unique texture, so you can experiment to find the ones that suit your style. For example, you can use a chalk brush for a rough texture or a watercolor brush for a soft, blended texture.
  2. Import Textures: Another way to add texture is to import texture images into Procreate. You can find these online or create your own. To add the texture, simply place the image on a new layer and experiment with blending modes to create the desired effect.
  3. Create Custom Brushes: If you can't find the exact texture you're looking for, why not make your own? In Procreate, you can create custom brushes and define their texture. It's a fun process and the possibilities are endless!

Adding textures can really elevate your digital paintings in Procreate. It's like adding a sprinkle of salt to a dish—it enhances the flavor and makes it more appealing. So, don't be afraid to play around with textures. Who knows, you might discover a texture that becomes your new favorite!

Practice regularly

Let's not beat around the bush: getting better at digital painting in Procreate isn't a one-time event. It's a journey, and like any journey, it involves regular, consistent practice. You've heard it before, but it bears repeating: practice makes perfect.

But what does "practice" actually entail in the context of Procreate?

  1. Pencil Mileage: This is a term you'll often hear in art circles. It means the amount of time you spend drawing and painting. The more you draw, the better you get. You can improve your Procreate skills by increasing your "pencil mileage"—draw daily, if possible.
  2. Try New Techniques: Don't stick to what's comfortable. Go out of your comfort zone and experiment with new techniques. For instance, if you've always used the pencil tool, why not try the spray paint tool for a change?
  3. Complete Art Challenges: Participate in online art challenges. They're not only a great way to practice but also a fun way to engage with the Procreate community.

Remember, every masterpiece was once a blank canvas. It's the consistent strokes of the brush, the thoughtful choice of colors, and the countless hours of practice behind the scenes that make the difference. So, keep practicing and watch as you get better at digital painting in Procreate, one stroke at a time.

If you're eager to hone your digital painting skills using Procreate, don't miss the workshop 'Intro to Procreate: Drawing with Digital Tools' by Vicky Catalan. This workshop will provide you with the foundation you need to enhance your digital art techniques and make the most of the Procreate app. Happy painting!