Procreate Illustration Guide: Create Stunning Art
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Procreate overview
  2. How to set up your canvas
  3. How to select and use brushes
  4. How to choose colors
  5. Creating basic shapes
  6. How to apply shading and lighting
  7. How to create textures
  8. How to export your artwork
  9. How to improve your illustration skills
  10. Procreate artwork examples

If you've been dabbling in the world of digital art and been wondering how to create detailed illustrations in Procreate, you've come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the basics of Procreate, an app that's become a favorite amongst artists worldwide. We'll start with setting up your canvas, choosing brushes and colors, and move on to more complex aspects like shading, lighting, and textures. Finally, we'll also discuss how to export your artwork and enhance your illustration skills. The goal is to help you build stunning art pieces in Procreate, one brush stroke at a time!

Procreate Overview

Procreate is more than just an app—it's an artist's powerhouse packed into your iPad. With its vast range of brushes and tools, it's specifically designed for serious artwork. From sketching to painting, Procreate is capable of creating detailed illustrations that can rival traditional mediums.

Here are some of the features that make Procreate stand out:

  • Intuitive interface: Procreate's user-friendly design makes it easy for beginners to get started. You don't need to be a tech whiz to figure out how to navigate the app.
  • Vast brush library: With over 200 brushes available, you can experiment endlessly to create the textures and effects you want in your artwork.
  • Layering capability: Procreate allows you to work with multiple layers. This is especially helpful when you're working on detailed compositions—you can isolate different elements of your artwork on separate layers and edit them without affecting the rest of your piece.
  • Color options: The color wheel and color harmony features in Procreate make it easy to choose and manage colors for your illustrations.

Remember, creating detailed illustrations in Procreate does not happen overnight. It requires practice and patience. But once you get the hang of it, you'll be amazed at what you can create. So, let's dive in, shall we?

How to set up your canvas

Before you begin to create detailed illustrations in Procreate, it's crucial to set up your canvas correctly. The canvas is the backdrop for your artwork. Think of it as a blank sheet of white paper, waiting for you to bring it to life.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open Procreate: To start, tap on the Procreate icon on your iPad to launch the app.
  2. Create a new canvas: Tap on the "+" sign at the top right corner. This will open a menu for you to select the dimensions of your canvas. You can choose from the default sizes or customize your own.
  3. Choose the right resolution: This is a critical step. If you plan to print your artwork, opt for a higher resolution (300 DPI is a good starting point). For digital displays, a lower resolution (like 72 DPI) will suffice.

Remember to consider the aspect ratio, especially if you're creating artwork for specific formats, like book covers or social media posts. The last thing you want is to end up with beautiful, detailed illustrations that don't fit where you need them to.

Setting up your canvas correctly is the first step towards creating stunning art in Procreate. So take a moment to get this step right—it's like laying the foundation for your masterpiece.

How to select and use brushes

Creating detailed illustrations in Procreate is a breeze once you master the art of selecting and using brushes. Brushes are the digital equivalent of your real-life painting tools. They can replicate the effect of a pencil, a marker, or even an airbrush—right on your iPad.

Follow these steps to select and use brushes effectively:

  1. Access the Brush Library: Tap on the brush icon at the top of your screen. This opens the Brush Library, which contains a plethora of brushes for you to choose from.
  2. Select a brush: You'll find brushes grouped into different sets, such as "Sketching", "Inking", and "Textures". Tap on a set to explore the brushes within. When you find one you like, simply tap on it to select.
  3. Adjust brush size and opacity: After selecting a brush, adjust its size and opacity using the sliders on the left side of your screen. The size changes the brush's thickness, while opacity affects how transparent the brush stroke appears.
  4. Test your brush: Before you begin painting, do a few test strokes on your canvas. You can always undo them later. This helps you get a feel for the brush, and allows you to make any further adjustments if needed.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you experiment with different brushes, the more comfortable you'll become. And soon, you'll be creating detailed illustrations in Procreate with ease. So why not pick up your digital brush and start painting?

How to choose colors

The power of color in your detailed illustrations in Procreate cannot be overstated. Colors can set the mood, highlight important elements, and bring your artwork to life. Here's how you can choose and use colors effectively in Procreate:

  1. Open the Color Picker: Tap on the circle located in the top-right corner of your screen. This will open the Color Picker, which is your gateway to virtually unlimited colors.
  2. Choose a color: You can choose a color in three ways. The 'Disc' tab lets you select a hue and then adjust its saturation and brightness. The 'Classic' tab allows you to adjust RGB values. Lastly, the 'Value' tab lets you input hexadecimal color codes if you have a specific color in mind.
  3. Create a Color Palette: If you're working on a piece that requires a specific set of colors, you can create a custom color palette. Just tap on the '+' icon in the Palettes tab and start adding colors. This way, you don't have to continually search for the colors you need.
  4. Apply the color: Once you've chosen a color, simply start painting on your canvas. Want to change the color? No problem. Just open the Color Picker again and select a new hue.

Remember, color can make or break your artwork. So, don't be afraid to experiment and try out different combinations. After all, the beauty of working digitally is that you can always undo or change things around. Happy coloring!

Creating basic shapes

Shapes are the building blocks of all detailed illustrations in Procreate. Whether you're drawing a complex cityscape or a simple flower, it all starts with basic shapes. Let's learn how to master them:

  1. Use the Shape Tool: Procreate's Shape tool, found in the toolbar at the top of your screen, lets you create perfect circles, squares, triangles, and even polygons. Just select the shape you want, and drag your stylus or finger across the canvas.
  2. Freehand Drawing: If you want a more organic look, you can draw shapes freehand. Procreate has a feature where you can hold your stylus or finger down at the end of your stroke, and it will automatically smooth out your shape.
  3. Transform and Edit: After creating a shape, you might want to adjust its size, position, or orientation. Just tap the arrow icon in the toolbar, and you can move, scale, or rotate your shape as needed.
  4. Fill with Color: Once you're happy with your shape, you can fill it with color. Use the Color Picker to select a color, then drag it from the top-right corner of the screen into your shape. Voila! Your shape is filled with color.

Start seeing the world in terms of basic shapes, and you'll find that drawing anything becomes a lot easier. And remember, practice makes perfect. So, keep creating with Procreate to hone your skills!

How to apply shading and lighting

Adding shading and lighting brings depth and dimension to your detailed illustrations in Procreate. They transform your flat shapes into three-dimensional objects. Here's how you can create this effect:

  1. Understand Light Source: First, decide where your light source is coming from. This will determine where the shadows and highlights go. If the light is coming from the right, the left side of your objects will be darker, and vice versa.
  2. Choose a Shading Brush: Next, select a brush for shading. The Soft Airbrush is a popular choice because it creates a smooth gradient. You can find this brush in the Airbrushing set in Procreate's brush library.
  3. Start Shading: Lower the opacity of your brush and start shading on the side opposite to your light source. Use a darker color than your object's base color. Remember, less is more. You can always add more shading, but it's harder to take it away.
  4. Add Highlights: Now it's time to add highlights. Choose a lighter color than your object's base color. Use the same soft airbrush and add color on the side where the light hits your object.
  5. Blend: Finally, use the Smudge Tool to blend your shadows and highlights. This will create a smooth transition and add a realistic touch to your illustration.

Shading and lighting might seem daunting at first, but keep practicing. You'll soon find yourself creating amazing detailed illustrations in Procreate with depth and dimension. Don't be afraid to experiment with different light sources and shadow placements. After all, every light creates a new shadow!

How to create textures

Textures can add a whole new level of interest to your detailed illustrations in Procreate. They bring life to your artwork, making surfaces look more real and believable. Here's a quick guide on how you can create your own textures:

  1. Choose the Right Brush: The brush you choose can make a significant difference in the texture you create. Procreate offers a wide variety of textured brushes under the "Touchups" and "Elements" categories. Experiment with different brushes to see the effects.
  2. Create a New Layer: Next, create a new layer above your object. This is where you'll be adding the texture. Keeping it on a separate layer allows you to make changes without affecting the base object.
  3. Apply the Texture: Select your chosen brush and a suitable color, then start brushing over your object. You can vary the brush size and pressure to get different effects.
  4. Adjust the Layer Settings: Once you're happy with the texture, you can tweak the layer settings. Try changing the blend mode or opacity to see how it affects the overall look of your texture.

Texturing is a fun process that can really make your illustrations pop. Remember, the key to creating realistic textures in Procreate is to observe real life closely—take note of the feel and look of different surfaces, then try to replicate it on your digital canvas. Don't be afraid to experiment and, most importantly, have fun with it!

How to export your artwork

After pouring your creativity into creating detailed illustrations in Procreate, the next step is to share your masterpiece with the world. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to export your artwork:

  1. Tap the Wrench Icon: On the top left corner of the screen, you'll see the Actions Menu represented by a wrench icon. Tap on it to open the menu.
  2. Choose 'Share': In the Actions Menu, you'll see various options. Tap on 'Share' to access the export options.
  3. Select Your Preferred Format: Procreate allows you to export your artwork in several formats including .procreate, .psd, .pdf, .jpg, .png, and .tiff. Choose the format that fits your needs best. If you want to preserve your layers for further editing, choose .procreate or .psd.
  4. Save or Share Your Artwork: Once you've selected the format, you can choose to save your artwork to your device, send it via email, or share it on social media.

Remember, each format has its own advantages. For instance, .jpg and .png are widely accepted and can be easily shared, while .procreate and .psd allow for further editing. Choose according to the purpose of your export. Now, you're ready to show off your Procreate detailed illustrations to everyone!

How to improve your illustration skills

We all start somewhere, right? Even the most intricate and detailed illustrations in Procreate were once a simple doodle by a beginner. So, if you're looking at your canvas thinking, "How on earth will I get there?", don't worry! Here are a few tried and tested tips that can help you improve your illustration skills:

  1. Practice Regularly: This is the big one. The more you draw, the better you get. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day. Think of it like exercise for your creativity muscles.
  2. Study Other Artwork: Look at other detailed illustrations—what makes them stand out? Is it the color scheme, the composition, or the textures? Learn from the best but remember, no copying!
  3. Learn From Your Mistakes: Made a wonky line or a smudged shade? That's okay. Every mistake is a chance to learn. Don't be too hard on yourself.
  4. Experiment with Styles: Don't box yourself in. Try different styles, techniques, and mediums. You might be surprised at what you can create.
  5. Take Breaks: Art can be intense, and it's easy to lose track of time. Remember to take breaks and rest your eyes. You'll come back with fresh energy and a new perspective.
  6. Keep Learning: Procreate is packed with features. Keep exploring and learning. You'll discover new tools and techniques that can transform your artwork.

Improving your skills takes time and patience, but it's a rewarding journey. So, keep at it, and soon you'll be creating those detailed illustrations in Procreate that you admire in no time!

Procreate artwork examples

Art is better when it's shown, not just told, right? So let's take a look at some inspiring examples of detailed illustrations in Procreate. These will give you a glimpse of what's possible with the app and hopefully spark some creative ideas.

  1. Character Illustrations: From whimsical fairies to grizzled warriors, Procreate gives you the tools to bring your characters to life. Check out artists like Max Ulichney and Georg v. Westphalen for mind-blowing character designs.
  2. Landscape Art: Want to create stunning vistas and serene landscapes? Look no further than artists like Tatyana Zabanova and Gal Shir. Their work will make you feel like you're stepping into another world.
  3. Abstract Art: For those who like to think outside the box, Procreate offers endless possibilities. Claire Paul draws mesmerizing, complex patterns that are a feast for the eyes.
  4. Realism: Yes, you can create hyper-realistic art in Procreate too. Artists like Black Gomez and David Juniper are known for their detailed and lifelike portraits and still life pieces.
  5. Comic Art: From single-panel gags to full-blown graphic novels, Procreate can handle it all. Artists like Jim Lee and Fiona Staples use Procreate to create some of their iconic comic book art.

These examples show that with Procreate, your imagination is the limit. Whether you want to create a simple cartoon or a detailed masterpiece, Procreate has got you covered. And remember, every artist started somewhere. So, grab your stylus and get started on your own journey of creating detailed illustrations in Procreate!

If you enjoyed learning about Procreate illustration and want to take your skills even further, don't miss the workshop 'Animating with Procreate and Photoshop' by Nyanza. This workshop will help you to not only create stunning art, but also bring your illustrations to life through animation, using both Procreate and Photoshop. Expand your creative horizons and elevate your digital art game with this fantastic workshop.