Procreate Masking Guide: Create Pro Masks
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. What is Masking in Procreate?
  2. How to Create a Basic Mask
  3. How to Use Clipping Masks
  4. How to Use Layer Masks
  5. How to Use Alpha Locks
  6. How to Use Mask Stencils
  7. How to Use Gradient Masks
  8. How to Edit Masks

Ever wondered how those beautiful, intricate designs in Procreate are achieved? The secret lies in mastering Procreate’s detailed masking techniques. If you're looking to up your Procreate game, understanding and utilizing masks is the key. This guide will demystify the world of Procreate masks, offering you a clear and simple walkthrough of various masking techniques. Whether you're a budding artist or a seasoned illustrator, you'll find value in this straightforward, easy-to-grasp guide.

What is Masking in Procreate?

Let's begin by defining what masking is in the context of Procreate. No, it's not about hiding behind a carnival mask or preparing for a masquerade. In Procreate, masking is a technique that allows you to control the visibility of your layers. Think of it as a protective barrier—you decide which parts of your artwork are revealed and which parts are concealed. It's kind of like a superhero's mask: it hides their identity, while allowing the world to see the rest of them.

There are several types of masks in Procreate. These include:

  • Basic Mask: This is the easiest type of mask to create. It's perfect for beginners seeking to master Procreate detailed masking techniques.
  • Clipping Masks: A clipping mask lets you draw within the confines of the layer beneath it. It's a bit like coloring inside the lines in a coloring book.
  • Layer Masks: Layer masks are a step up from clipping masks. They allow you to conceal and reveal parts of a layer without permanently erasing them.
  • Alpha Locks: This technique locks the alpha channel of your layer, meaning you can only paint or draw on the existing artwork of that layer.
  • Mask Stencils: These are masks that are used like stencils. You can create a shape or pattern and then use it repeatedly across your artwork.
  • Gradient Masks: Gradient masks let you create smooth transitions between colors or layers in your artwork.

Each masking technique has its own unique set of uses and benefits. As you explore and experiment with Procreate detailed masking techniques, you'll discover how each one can enhance your art and expand your digital painting skills.

How to Create a Basic Mask

Creating a basic mask in Procreate is like learning to ride a bike. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be zipping along in no time. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you create your first basic mask:

  1. Start by opening a new document in Procreate. You can choose any canvas size you like.
  2. Next, create a new layer. You can do this by tapping the plus sign (+) in the upper right-hand corner of the layers panel.
  3. To create your mask, tap on the layer you've just created. A menu will appear with different options. Choose "Mask". This will create a mask on top of your chosen layer.
  4. Now, it's time to paint your mask. Select a brush from the brushes panel and pick a color. Black, white, and shades of gray are commonly used when masking.
  5. Start painting on your mask. Remember, black will conceal parts of your layer, white will reveal them, and gray will provide varying degrees of transparency.

Voila! You've just created your first basic mask in Procreate. Remember, practice makes perfect — don't worry if your first few attempts don't turn out exactly as you imagined. With time and patience, you'll become proficient in Procreate's detailed masking techniques.

How to Use Clipping Masks

Now that you've got a grip on creating basic masks, let's move on to something a bit more advanced: clipping masks. Much like a stencil, clipping masks in Procreate allow you to confine your artwork within the boundaries of a specific shape or layer. Here's how you do it:

  1. First things first, create a new layer. This will be the layer you'll apply the clipping mask to.
  2. Next, sketch or paint the design you want to clip. This could be anything from a simple geometric shape to a complex character or landscape.
  3. Once you're happy with your design, create a new layer above your design layer. This will serve as your clipping mask.
  4. Tap on this new layer and select "Clipping Mask" from the menu. The layer will now act like a window, revealing only the parts of your design that lie within its boundaries.
  5. Now, you can paint or draw on your clipping mask layer. Whatever you create will only appear within the boundaries of your original design layer.

So there you have it, you're now a pro at using clipping masks in Procreate! Remember, the sky's the limit when it comes to creativity. So, don't be afraid to experiment with different shapes, designs, and colors. Before you know it, you'll be creating works of art that would make Picasso green with envy.

How to Use Layer Masks

Alright, moving on! Let's talk about layer masks in Procreate. If clipping masks are like windows, layer masks are like magic erasers. They allow you to hide parts of a layer without permanently deleting them. Ready to learn how to use them? Let's dive in:

  1. Start by selecting the layer you want to mask. You might choose a layer with an image, a painted area, or a specific design.
  2. With your layer selected, tap on the mask button in the layer options. This creates a layer mask. You'll notice it appears as a white thumbnail next to your layer.
  3. Now, grab your brush and paint on the layer mask where you want to hide parts of your layer. Use black to hide and white to reveal. It's kind of like painting with invisibility ink!
  4. If you make a mistake, don't panic! Just switch your brush color to white and paint over the area to reveal it again.

And there you have it, folks — a crash course in Procreate's layer masking technique! Remember: black to hide, white to reveal. Keep that in mind, and you'll be a layer mask master in no time. Now go forth and erase (or not) to your heart's content!

How to Use Alpha Locks

Let's now turn our attention to Alpha Locks. If you're not familiar with them, Alpha Locks are another one of Procreate's powerful masking tools. They basically lock the pixels of your layer so you can only paint on what's already there, not the transparent parts. Sounds good, right? Let's break down the steps:

  1. Choose the layer you want to work with and swipe it to the right with two fingers. You'll see a checkerboard pattern appear, which means the Alpha Lock is active.
  2. Now, only the existing pixels on your layer are up for grabs. Choose your brush and color, and start painting. You'll notice your strokes only show up on the existing content, not the transparent background. Neat, huh?
  3. When you're all done, simply swipe the layer to the right with two fingers again to disable the Alpha Lock.

And just like that, you're an Alpha Lock expert! This tool is perfect when you want to add details or shading to your art without affecting the background. So go ahead, give it a try and see how this Procreate detailed masking technique can elevate your digital art game!

How to Use Mask Stencils

Okay, it's time to get more creative with this Procreate detailed masking technique. Ever hear of Mask Stencils? They're used to create precise effects or complex shapes on your artwork. Let's check out how to use them:

  1. First off, you need to choose a shape or pattern for your stencil. It could be anything you like: a star, a leaf, you name it. You need to create the stencil on a new layer.
  2. Once your stencil is ready, go to the 'Layers' panel and tap on the layer thumbnail. From the menu that pops up, select 'Select'.
  3. The stencil layer will be highlighted in blue, and you'll see a diagonal pattern across it. This means that everything you draw now will only show up within the stencil shape.
  4. Feel free to start drawing and see the magic happen! The stencil acts as a mask, letting you create detailed effects within the shape.
  5. When you're done, tap 'Done' on the top left corner to deactivate the stencil.

There you go, you've just learned how to create stunning effects with Mask Stencils in Procreate. Think about the possibilities and experiment with different shapes and textures. Remember, practice makes perfect!

How to Use Gradient Masks

Let's shift gears and talk about another Procreate detailed masking technique: Gradient Masks. They're a fantastic way to add depth and dimension to your artwork. Just like the sunset gives way to the night, smoothly transitioning between colors. Ready to learn how to create that effect?

  1. Start by creating a new layer. This will be your gradient mask layer.
  2. In the 'Layers' panel, tap on the new layer and select 'Fill Layer' from the menu. This will fill the entire layer with the foreground color.
  3. Now, select the 'Adjustments' menu, and tap on 'Gradient Map'.
  4. You'll see a range of gradient options to choose from. Pick one that suits your artwork.
  5. Drag your finger or stylus across the screen to apply the gradient. The more you drag, the more intense the gradient becomes.
  6. When you're happy with the result, tap 'Done' on the top right corner.

And voila, you've just created a gradient mask! Remember, the key to mastering Procreate's detailed masking techniques is to explore and experiment. Don't be afraid to play around with different gradient options and intensities. Happy Procreating!

How to Edit Masks

So, you've created a mask and applied it to your artwork. But what if you want to make changes? It's all part of the creative process, right? Let's talk about how to edit masks in Procreate.

  1. First things first, select the mask layer you want to edit in your 'Layers' panel.
  2. Now, pick the 'Eraser' tool from the toolbar. This tool will become your best friend when it comes to editing masks.
  3. Remember, the size and opacity of your eraser matter. Adjust them according to your needs. Want to make subtle changes? A low opacity might be your best bet. Need to erase a large portion? Crank up the size.
  4. Start erasing the areas where you want to make changes. The beauty of Procreate's detailed masking techniques is that you're not permanently deleting anything. You're just hiding parts of the layer. So, feel free to erase without fear!
  5. Once you're happy with your edits, you can add more details using the 'Brush' tool. Just select the mask layer and start drawing.

Remember, your artwork is a reflection of your creativity. So, don't hesitate to make changes until you're completely satisfied. With Procreate's detailed masking techniques, you have the freedom to edit and re-edit until your masterpiece is exactly how you envision it.

If you enjoyed our Procreate Masking Guide and want to further develop your Procreate skills, don't miss out on the workshop 'How to Draw A Fruit In ProCreate' by Vicky Catalan. This workshop will teach you how to create beautiful, realistic fruit illustrations using Procreate, and the techniques you learn can be applied to your masking projects as well. Happy creating!