Procreate Digital Sketching: Advanced Tips Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


  1. How to use layers effectively
  2. Using clipping masks for advanced shading
  3. Smooth line art with Streamline
  4. How to apply textures
  5. Using the Liquify tool for creative effects
  6. How to create custom brushes
  7. Using the Perspective Guide for accurate drawings
  8. How to animate your artwork
  9. Exporting your work for print and web

Let's dive into the world of Procreate, a game-changer for digital artists. With this software, you can bring your wildest imaginations to life. This blog post is here to help you master advanced digital sketching in Procreate. Whether you're a seasoned artist or just dipping your toes in digital art, these tips will take your Procreate game to the next level. So, get your stylus ready and let's get sketching!

How to use layers effectively

One of the greatest features of Procreate, and digital art in general, is the ability to work in layers. Think of it like having a stack of transparent papers, where you can draw on each one without disturbing the layers underneath. If you're looking to level up your advanced digital sketching in Procreate, understanding and using layers effectively is key.

Firstly, you need to know how to add a layer. It's simple — just tap on the "+" button in the layers panel. Now, you've got a fresh canvas to work on, without messing up what you've already drawn.

Organizing Your Layers

When you're working on a complex piece, you might end up with a lot of layers. It's easy to get lost in them. Use names or color tags to keep track of your layers. By tapping on a layer and then choosing "rename", you can give it a specific name. You can also swipe right on a layer to color tag it. This way, you'll always know where to find your sky background or your character's hair layer.

Using Blend Modes

Blend modes are a powerful feature that change the way your layers interact. For instance, the "multiply" mode darkens the colors, making it great for shadows. The "overlay" mode, on the other hand, can boost your colors and is perfect for highlights. Experiment with different blend modes to see how they can enhance your digital sketching in Procreate.

Adjusting Opacity

Another handy tool is the opacity slider. By sliding it around, you can change how transparent a layer is. This is useful when you're sketching out a rough idea and you want it to be lighter, or when you're adding subtle details.

Layers are just one piece of the Procreate puzzle. Once you've mastered them, advanced digital sketching in Procreate becomes a breeze. But remember — practice makes perfect. So, keep exploring, keep experimenting, and keep creating!

Using clipping masks for advanced shading

Procreate's Clipping Masks are a brilliant tool for adding depth and dimension to your digital sketching. They allow you to apply color or texture to specific parts of your artwork without affecting the rest of the piece. It's like having a magic color that only paints where you want it to. Let's take a look at how to use Clipping Masks for advanced shading in Procreate.

Creating a Clipping Mask

To create a Clipping Mask, start by adding a new layer above the one you want to shade. Tap on the new layer and select "Clipping Mask". Now, anything you draw or paint on this layer will only appear on the shape or lines of the layer beneath it. It's that easy!

Shading with a Clipping Mask

Once you have your Clipping Mask set up, pick a darker color for your shading. Using a soft brush, gently paint over the areas where you want shadows to appear. Remember, light and shadow determine how your audience perceives the form and depth of your subjects. So, think about where your light source is and how it interacts with your subject.

For more nuanced shading, try varying your brush size and opacity. The more you experiment with these settings, the more control you'll have over the final look of your piece.

Adding Highlights with a Clipping Mask

Just like you can add shadows with a Clipping Mask, you can also add highlights. Simply create a new Clipping Mask layer over your shaded layer, pick a lighter color, and paint where the light hits your subject. You'll be amazed at how much this can add to your overall image.

Clipping Masks are just one of many tools in Procreate that can take your digital sketching to new heights. Don't be afraid to explore and experiment — your next masterpiece is waiting!

Smooth Line Art with Streamline

Creating smooth lines in digital sketching can sometimes feel like a challenge, especially when you're just getting the hang of it. But don't worry, Procreate has a solution — Streamline. This handy feature can make your line work smoother and more fluid, perfect for creating that professional, polished look.

Activating Streamline

To start with Streamline, first, select your preferred brush. Once you've done that, open the brush settings panel. You'll see a slider marked "Streamline". Slide it to the right to increase the effect. You will notice that your strokes become smoother and more controlled. It's like having a little helper guiding your hand.

Finding the Right Balance

While Streamline can be a fantastic tool for cleaner lines, it's important to find a balance that works for you. If you set Streamline too high, your lines may start to feel a bit robotic or too mechanical. On the other hand, if it's too low, you might not get the smoothing effect you want.

The key here is to play around with the settings. Try different Streamline levels until you find the sweet spot that gives you fluid lines, while still maintaining your personal touch.

Using Streamline for Lettering

Streamline isn't just for illustrations, it's also a popular tool for digital lettering. It helps keep your letters consistent and your curves smooth. So, if you're into creating beautiful typography, don't forget to give Streamline a try!

Creating smooth line art is an important step in mastering advanced digital sketching in Procreate. It might take a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, you'll see a noticeable improvement in your artwork. And remember, art is a journey, not a destination. So, enjoy the process!

How to Apply Textures

Adding texture to your digital artwork can truly bring it to life. It's like the cherry on top of a sundae — the finishing touch that gives your piece depth and character. Let's talk about how you can apply textures in Procreate to elevate your digital sketching.

Starting with the Basics

First, you need to select the right texture. Procreate comes with a library of pre-made textures, also known as 'brushes', that you can apply to your artwork. To access these, open the brushes panel and explore the different categories. You'll find textures that mimic real-life materials, like watercolor, oil paint, or pencil. Choose one that fits the mood of your artwork.

Texture Layering

One key tip for advanced digital sketching in Procreate is to layer your textures. Start with a base texture, then add more on top for added complexity and depth. Remember to adjust the opacity of each layer, so the textures blend well together. This technique can make your digital artwork look more like a traditional painting or drawing.

Creating Your Own Textures

If you can't find the texture you're looking for, why not create your own? Procreate allows you to make custom brushes. You can use a photo of a texture you like, or create one from scratch. This gives you complete control over the look and feel of your artwork.

Experimenting is Key

Lastly, don't be afraid to experiment! Try different textures, play around with blending modes, and see what works best for your style. Remember, there's no right or wrong here. It's all about expressing your creativity and having fun with your digital sketching journey in Procreate.

Using the Liquify Tool for Creative Effects

When you're looking to add a unique twist to your digital sketching in Procreate, the Liquify tool can be your magic wand. It's like a funhouse mirror for your artwork — it bends, twists, and distorts elements to create intriguing effects. Let's explore how you can use this tool to its fullest potential.

Understanding the Liquify Tool

The Liquify tool in Procreate offers several options: Push, Twirl Right, Twirl Left, Pinch, Expand, Crystals, and Edge. Each of these options manipulates your artwork in a different way. For instance, Push moves pixels around, while Twirl Right and Twirl Left spin pixels in a circular motion.

Applying the Liquify Effect

Using the Liquify tool is pretty straightforward. First, you select the Liquify option from the Adjustments menu. Then, you choose the effect you want and start painting it onto your canvas. You can adjust the size, pressure, and distortion amount to get the desired effect. It's like molding clay, but with pixels!

Getting Creative with Liquify

Now for the fun part: getting creative with Liquify! You can use this tool to create a sense of movement in your artwork, to correct proportions, or to distort elements for a surreal effect. For example, you could use the Twirl Right option to create a swirling vortex in a fantasy landscape. Or, you could use the Push option to adjust the shape of a character's face. The possibilities are endless.

Practice Makes Perfect

Like any tool, the Liquify tool in Procreate takes some getting used to. The more you experiment with it, the more comfortable you'll become. So, don't be afraid to dive in and start distorting! With practice, you'll be able to add creative effects to your advanced digital sketching in Procreate with ease.

How to Create Custom Brushes

One of the coolest features in Procreate is the ability to design your own brushes. Crafting your custom brushes not only adds a unique touch to your advanced digital sketching in Procreate but also streamlines your workflow. Let's break down the process step-by-step.

Initiating the Process

To start creating a custom brush, you have to navigate to the 'Brushes' panel and tap on the '+' symbol. This action opens up a whole new menu filled with options for designing the brush exactly how you want it.

Setting up the Brush

The 'Shape' and 'Grain' sections are where your brush starts to come to life. The 'Shape' section defines how your brush will look on its path, while the 'Grain' section will determine the texture of the brush. You can choose from the existing library or import your images.

Playing with Dynamics

Under 'Dynamics', you'll find controls for size, opacity, and bleed. Each one of these parameters can be set to change with pressure, speed, or tilt. This allows you to create brushes that respond to your drawing style.

Testing and Adjusting

Once you've set up your brush, it's time to test it out. Draw a few lines and see how the brush feels. Does it flow smoothly? Does it fit the texture you're aiming for? If not, return to the settings and make the necessary adjustments.

Creating custom brushes is a fun and rewarding process, allowing you to add a personal touch to your digital sketching in Procreate. Remember, the key to a great brush is in the details. Spend some time experimenting with different shapes, textures, and settings to find what works best for you.

Using the Perspective Guide for Accurate Drawings

Mastering perspective is a game-changer in advanced digital sketching in Procreate. It adds depth and realism to your work, making it visually striking. Procreate's Perspective Guide is a nifty tool that can help you nail down this tricky skill. Here's how you can use it.

Activating the Perspective Guide

First, you need to tap on the wrench icon to open the 'Actions' panel. Select 'Canvas' and then turn on 'Drawing Guide'. Tap 'Edit Drawing Guide' and choose 'Perspective'.

Setting up Your Horizon Line and Vanishing Points

On the screen, you'll see a horizontal line. That's your horizon line. You can move it up or down by simply dragging it. Once you have it in place, you can set up your vanishing points. These are the points where parallel lines seem to converge in the distance. Tap anywhere on the horizon line to create a vanishing point. For a more realistic look, you might want to use two or even three vanishing points.

Sketch, and Let the Guide Do Its Work

Now that everything is set, all you have to do is sketch. As you draw, your lines will snap to the guide, helping you maintain accurate perspective. It's like having a personal tutor guiding your hand as you draw.

Remember: Practice Makes Perfect

Just like any other skill, mastering perspective takes time and practice. So, don't feel discouraged if your first few sketches don't turn out perfect. Keep practicing, and in no time, you'll see a noticeable improvement in your digital sketching in Procreate.

With the Perspective Guide, even complex drawings become simpler. So, don't shy away from those ambitious projects. Give it a go, and watch your art come to life.

How to Animate Your Artwork

Animation can transform your static artwork into a dynamic masterpiece. In Procreate, this process is not as daunting as you might think. With a few easy steps, you can add movement to your art and elevate your advanced digital sketching in Procreate to the next level.

Prepare Your Canvas

First things first, you need to create a new canvas. The size would largely depend on your project, but for starters, a 1080 x 1080 pixel canvas works just fine. Once you've laid out your canvas, start sketching your first frame.

Create New Layers for Each Frame

With your first frame ready, create a new layer for the next frame. This is where the magic happens! By making slight changes in each new layer, you can create the illusion of movement. Remember, the more layers (or frames) you have, the smoother your animation will be.

Activate Animation Assist

After you've drawn all your frames, it's time to animate. Tap on the wrench icon, select 'Canvas', and then turn on 'Animation Assist'. You'll see a timeline appear at the bottom of your screen with all your frames. You can adjust the speed of your animation by changing the frames per second (FPS) setting. The higher the FPS, the faster your animation will be.

Play and Enjoy Your Animated Artwork!

Finally, hit the play button and watch your artwork come alive! If you're not happy with the result, you can always go back and adjust your frames until you get the desired effect.

Animating your digital sketches in Procreate can be a fun way to explore your creativity. It might seem a bit tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, there's no stopping you. So, why not try it out on your next project? You might just surprise yourself!

Exporting Your Work for Print and Web

After spending hours perfecting your advanced digital sketching in Procreate, the last thing you want is for it to lose quality when shared or printed. Fortunately, Procreate provides various options for exporting your work to ensure it looks as good in print or on the web as it does on your screen.

Choosing the Right Format

Procreate supports several export formats: JPEG, PNG, PDF, and even PSD for those who want to further edit their work in Photoshop. JPEG is suitable for web posting, while PNG works best for designs with transparent backgrounds. If you're planning to print your artwork, the PDF format ensures high-quality outputs.

Exporting for Print

To export your art for print, tap on the wrench icon, select 'Share', then choose 'PDF'. This format keeps your colors vibrant and your lines sharp. Remember to double-check your printer settings too. You want to ensure the paper size matches your digital canvas size for the best outcome.

Exporting for Web

If you're sharing your artwork online, the process is slightly different. This time, choose either JPEG or PNG, depending on your preference. Keep in mind that large files can become pixelated or slow to load on some websites, so it's a good idea to reduce the size or resolution if needed. But don't worry, even at lower resolutions, your advanced digital sketching in Procreate will still look fantastic!

Exporting your work properly is the final step in your Procreate journey. It might seem like a small detail, but it can make a big difference in how others view your art. So take the time to do it right, and your artwork will shine in any format!

If you enjoyed our "Procreate Digital Sketching: Advanced Tips Guide" blog post and want to learn more about digital drawing, be sure to check out the workshop 'Intro to Procreate: Drawing with Digital Tools' by Vicky Catalan. This workshop will provide you with a solid foundation in using Procreate and help you unlock your full potential as a digital artist.