Procreate Tips: Creating Depth & Stunning Illustrations
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Using layers for depth
  2. Applying shadow effect
  3. How to use Linear Burn Blend mode
  4. Blurring edges for distance
  5. Tips for creating textures
  6. Adding reflections and highlights
  7. How to use the Smudge tool
  8. Creating depth with color and value
  9. Tips for creating 3D effects
  10. How to create stunning illustrations

Unlocking the potential of Procreate can feel like learning a new language. But once you master the basics, you'll soon be creating illustrations with depth and dimension that pop off the screen. This blog post will guide you through some of the most effective Procreate techniques for achieving depth and dimension in your illustrations. So, grab your iPad, open up Procreate, and prepare to take your art to the next level.

Using layers for depth

One of the most powerful tools in your Procreate arsenal is the Layers feature. Understanding how to use layers for depth is like learning to see in 3D. It's all about creating a sense of space, where objects closer to you are on top layers, and those further away are on bottom layers. Let's dive in:

Step 1: Start with a Background Layer

Begin your illustration with a background layer — this will set the stage for your artwork. It could be a simple block color, gradient, or a detailed landscape, depending on your project.

Step 2: Add Foreground Objects

Next, add a new layer for each object that you want in the foreground. These objects should be more detailed and vivid than background objects to create a sense of depth and dimension in Procreate. Remember, objects that are closer to the viewer should have bolder, brighter colors.

Step 3: Fill in the Middle Ground

Objects in the middle ground should be placed on layers between the foreground and background. These elements serve to connect the foreground and background, providing continuity and further enhancing the depth in your Procreate design.

Step 4: Adjust Layer Opacity

Here's a neat trick: by reducing the opacity of your background layers, you can simulate distance. As a rule of thumb, the further away an object is, the less vivid it appears. So, play around with the layer opacity to create an illusion of distance and depth.

Step 5: Overlay Layers

Depth isn't just about what's in front and what's behind—it's also about interaction. Overlapping layers can create a dynamic interplay between your objects, adding a whole new level of depth and dimension to your Procreate artwork.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you experiment with layers, the more intuitive it will become. And soon, you'll be adding depth and dimension in Procreate like a pro!

Applying shadow effect

Nothing conveys depth and dimension in Procreate quite like the clever use of shadows. Just like in the real world, shadows in your artwork can indicate the direction and intensity of light, adding a sense of realism and depth. Here's how to do it:

Step 1: Determine Your Light Source

Before you start drawing shadows, decide where the light in your scene is coming from. Is it a sunny day with light coming from above? Or is it a dramatic scene with a spotlight from the side? This will determine where your shadows fall.

Step 2: Create a New Layer for Shadows

Once you've decided on your light source, create a new layer for your shadows. It's best to keep your shadows separate from the rest of your artwork so you can adjust them easily if needed.

Step 3: Use a Soft Brush for Shadows

When drawing shadows, opt for a soft brush. Shadows are rarely sharp and defined, so a softer brush will give a more realistic effect. Plus, you can always adjust the brush's opacity for lighter or darker shadows.

Step 4: Consider the Shadow's Color

Shadows aren't just gray. Depending on the light, they can have tints of blue, purple, or even orange. Experiment with different colors to add depth and dimension to your Procreate artwork.

Step 5: Blur Your Shadows

For an even more realistic effect, try blurring your shadows a bit. Procreate's Gaussian Blur tool is perfect for this. Just swipe right on your shadow layer with the tool selected and watch your shadow softly blur, enhancing the depth effect.

Adding shadows to your Procreate artwork can seem daunting at first, but with a little practice, you'll soon be adding shadows that add depth and dimension to your scenes with ease.

How to use Linear Burn Blend mode

Procreate boasts a variety of blending modes, but one that stands out for creating depth and dimension in your artwork is the Linear Burn Blend mode. Here's a simple guide to using it effectively in your artwork:

Step 1: Open the Layers Panel

Start by tapping on the layers icon. This will bring up the layers panel, where you can create a new layer or select an existing one to work on.

Step 2: Choose Your Blend Mode

After selecting your layer, tap on the 'N' icon next to the layer name. This will open a list of blending modes. Scroll down and select 'Linear Burn'.

Step 3: Start Painting

With the Linear Burn mode selected, you can now start painting on your layer. The Linear Burn mode darkens your colors, allowing you to create deeper shadows and add a sense of depth to your artwork.

Step 4: Adjust Your Layer Opacity

Depending on your desired effect, you may want to adjust the layer's opacity. Lowering the opacity softens the effect of the Linear Burn mode, while increasing it intensifies the effect.

Step 5: Experiment!

Don't be afraid to experiment with different colors and brush sizes. The Linear Burn mode can result in unexpected and beautiful effects that add depth and dimension to your Procreate artwork.

Just remember, while blending modes like Linear Burn can help enhance your artwork, the key to creating depth and dimension in Procreate lies in understanding light and shadow, color theory, and perspective. Happy painting!

Blurring edges for distance

Have you ever noticed how objects in the distance seem less defined and blurrier compared to those up close? This is an effect you can recreate in your Procreate illustrations to add depth and dimension. Here's how:

Step 1: Select the Object

First, open your Layers panel and select the layer that contains the object you want to blur. This could be a background element or a character in the distance.

Step 2: Apply Gaussian Blur

With the layer selected, tap on the Adjustment menu (the magic wand icon), then select Gaussian Blur. Drag your stylus or finger right across the screen to increase the blur effect. The more you drag, the stronger the blur effect becomes.

Step 3: Adjust the Blur

Gently adjust the amount of blur to mimic the effect of distance. Remember, things farther away should be blurrier. A subtle blur can go a long way in creating a sense of depth.

Step 4: Repeat for Other Distant Objects

If your scene has multiple distant objects, repeat the process for each. The consistency of the blur effect across all distant objects will enhance the sense of depth and dimension in your Procreate artwork.

Mastering this technique can give your illustrations a more realistic and visually appealing look. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't be discouraged if your first few attempts don't turn out exactly as you envisioned. Keep trying, keep experimenting, and have fun with it!

Tips for creating textures

Creating textures is an effective way to add depth and dimension to your Procreate art. Wondering how to do it? Here are some simple steps:

Step 1: Make use of Brush Libraries

Procreate has an extensive library of brushes that can help you create different textures. Try out different brushes and see what effects they bring to your drawing. You'll be surprised at the variety of textures you can achieve!

Step 2: Layering

Layering is a powerful tool in Procreate. By stacking different textures on separate layers, you can create intricate, rich details. This will give your artwork a sense of depth and realism.

Step 3: Experiment with Opacity

Adjusting the opacity of your brushes can also enhance the texture. Lower opacity can create a softer, more subtle texture, while higher opacity will result in a more pronounced, rough texture.

Step 4: Use the Smudge Tool

Procreate’s smudge tool is not just for blending! It can also be used to create interesting textures. Try smudging your brush strokes and watch as new textures emerge.

Remember, creating texture is about experimenting and discovering what works best for your style and your piece. Don't be afraid to try new techniques and have fun along the way!

Adding reflections and highlights

Let's move on to another exciting technique that can add depth and dimension in Procreate—adding reflections and highlights. This technique can make your artwork look more lifelike. So, how can you add reflections and highlights in your Procreate art? Let's find out.

Step 1: Use A Lighter Color

To create a highlight, select a color that is lighter than the color of the object you are working on. The color you choose will depend on the lighting in your scene. For example, if the light source is warm, you might use a warm, light color for highlights.

Step 2: Apply Highlights

Apply the lighter color to the parts of the object where the light source would hit it. This might be the top of the object or any part that sticks out. Remember, less is more when it comes to highlights!

Step 3: Create Reflections

Reflections can be a bit trickier, but they're a great way to add depth. To create a reflection, you'll need to mirror the object on the reflective surface. The reflection should match the color and shape of the object, but it might be a bit distorted depending on the surface.

Step 4: Lower the Opacity

Lower the opacity of the reflection layer to make it look more realistic. Real reflections are often more subtle than the original object.

Adding highlights and reflections takes practice, but it can really make your Procreate art pop. So, keep experimenting and you'll soon get the hang of it!

How to use the Smudge tool

Have you ever tried using the Smudge tool in Procreate? If not, you're missing out! The Smudge tool is a powerful yet simple tool that you can use to blend colors together, creating a sense of depth and dimension in your Procreate masterpiece.

Step 1: Choose Your Smudge Tool

First off, you'll need to select the Smudge tool. You'll find it nestled between the Brush and Eraser tools in the top toolbar. The icon looks like a finger swiping left.

Step 2: Select Your Brush

Just like with the Brush tool, you can select a brush to use with the Smudge tool. The brush you choose will affect how the colors blend together, so experiment to see which one suits your style.

Step 3: Adjust the Smudge Tool Settings

Don't forget to adjust the settings for your Smudge tool. You can change the size and opacity of the tool to fit your needs. Remember, a lower opacity will make the smudging effect more subtle, while a larger brush size will cover more area.

Step 4: Start Smudging

Now for the fun part—start smudging! Simply drag your finger or stylus over the area you want to blend. The colors will start to meld together, creating a seamless transition and adding depth and dimension to your drawing.

Whether you're blending a sunset sky or smoothing out skin tones, the Smudge tool is a valuable ally in your Procreate toolkit. So go on and give it a try!

Creating depth with color and value

Creating depth and dimension in Procreate can seem like a tall order, but it doesn't have to be. One incredibly effective technique is to use color and value strategically. Let's dive in.

Color Theory Basics

The first thing to understand is basic color theory. Different colors can evoke different moods and perceptions. For example, cool colors like blue and green can create a sense of distance, while warm colors like red and yellow can feel closer. Try using this principle in your Procreate artwork to give it depth.

Value Is Key

Next, understand the role of value. Value refers to how light or dark a color is. By varying the value of your colors—using darker shades for areas you want to recede and lighter ones for those you want to highlight—you can create a sense of depth and dimension. It's a simple yet powerful technique!

Playing with Contrast

Contrast can also help create depth. Try using high contrast—placing very light colors next to very dark ones—for areas of your piece that you want to stand out. This can create a three-dimensional effect, making certain parts of your artwork pop!

Don't be afraid to play around with color and value. With practice, you will find the right balance to create stunning depth in your Procreate creations. Remember, art is all about expressing yourself, so there are no wrong choices—only learning opportunities!

Tips for creating 3D effects

Creating 3D effects is an impressive way to add depth and dimension in Procreate. Here are some simple yet effective ways to achieve this.

Use Perspective

Perspective is your best friend when it comes to creating 3D effects. Draw objects smaller as they move further away from the viewer to create the illusion of depth. Similarly, draw objects larger as they come closer to create a sense of proximity.

Shading Matters

Shading is a fantastic tool to give your illustrations a 3D feel. When shading, keep in mind the light source in your scene. Objects closer to the light will be brighter, while those further away will be darker. Shading correctly will give your objects a sense of volume and depth.

Overlapping Objects

Another simple trick to create 3D effects is to overlap objects in your artwork. When one object covers part of another, our brain interprets it as being closer, creating a sense of depth. Just remember, the object in front should be more detailed to reinforce the effect.

With these tips, you can create eye-catching 3D effects in your Procreate illustrations. Keep practicing, experimenting, and most importantly, have fun with it!

How to create stunning illustrations

Creating stunning illustrations in Procreate is a blend of creativity, technique, and a clear understanding of how depth and dimension work. Here are some key pointers to help you achieve this.

Start with a Sketch

Every great illustration starts with a sketch. It gives you a roadmap, guiding you on where to add detail, depth, and color. So, grab your Apple Pencil, choose a sketching brush, and let your ideas flow onto the canvas.

Choose Your Colors Wisely

Color plays a pivotal role in making an illustration pop. Remember, warm colors like red and yellow tend to come forward, while cool colors like blue and green recede. Use this to your advantage to add depth to your Procreate illustrations.

Details Make the Difference

It's the small details that can turn a good illustration into a great one. A touch of texture here, a highlight there, a subtle shadow in the right place - these small additions can add a lot of depth and make your artwork stand out.

Reflect Your Style

Lastly, remember that your illustrations should reflect your unique style. Whether it's the way you draw eyes, the texture you use, or the color palette you choose, let your individuality shine through your work. After all, art is a way of expressing yourself!

If you enjoyed learning about Procreate tips and want to further enhance your illustration skills, don't miss the workshop 'How to Draw A Fruit In ProCreate' by Vicky Catalan. This workshop will teach you essential techniques to create beautiful and realistic fruit illustrations, adding depth and complexity to your digital art.