Procreate App Review: How to Create Illustrations Like a Pro

Mobile Apps

Digitalization has significantly changed the ways we do things, whether it’s for our personal or professional growth. Individuals who sketch, draw, illustrate, or paint, for example, now have wider options to express their art. Painting apps like Procreate gives professional artists and hobbyists a new avenue to make beautiful art using a digital platform.

In this review, we will discuss what makes Procreate an ideal app not only for professional artists or designers who want to build a strong digital art portfolio but also for anyone who wants to learn how to sketch, draw, or paint beyond using pen and paper.


What Is Procreate?

Procreate Review
Photo from Procreate

Procreate is one of the top illustration, painting, and the best drawing apps available today. Savage Interactive, a tech startup in Tasmania, Australia, developed the app exclusively for iPad. Procreate is a complete art studio that artists can bring with them anywhere. It provides almost every tool you need for your creative projects.

The app has impressive responsiveness, making the experience similar to making art using paper. Using an Apple Pencil will make the experience a lot better. Procreate is also packed with an array of brushes, and it allows you to customize to fit your needs. This feature makes the app appealing even among seasoned artists.


How Much Does Procreate Cost?

One factor to consider when choosing an app is the cost. Some apps may have a wide range of features but they can often cost you a fortune. There are apps, however, that are more affordable but don’t have enough tools.

You can download Procreate from the App Store for $9.99. Unlike other software, you don’t need to pay for a monthly subscription or renewal fee. You will only pay for the app upon download, which is a great deal if you already have iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.


What Are the In-App Purchases for Procreate?

Procreate used to have an in-app purchase, which is the Perspective Guide. According to the makers of the app, this was integrated to Procreate 4.0 for free. This guide helps users create realistic objects and backgrounds in their artwork.

In case you’re using Procreate 3, you can still get the Perspective Guide. Simply go to the Canvas menu and purchase it via the Early Access. Don’t worry because the app won’t charge you.

If you want to learn more about the best drawing apps, you can check out our separate article to know more. Also, if you don’t have an iPad, here are best alternatives to Procreate.


How to Use the Procreate App?

How to Use
Photo by Rober González on Unsplash

Professional artists use the Procreate app in different ways, from developing their signature style and building a strong portfolio to creating illustrations for their clients. For beginners, Procreate may look intimidating to use. But it’s somewhat easy to navigate and you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

Procreate provides users with a handbook to help them use the app with ease. It tells you all about the features of the app, such as what they do, where to find them, and how to use them.

Here are four things you can find in the Procreate Handbook to give you an idea.



Procreate’s sleek and minimal interface is one of the app’s pride and joy. It keeps your art in focus. The app’s technology also gives you effortless control over your work through natural multitouch gestures.

The app’s interface has three parts to keep you focused on your creation. These parts are the Painting Tools, Sidebar, and Advanced Features.

Photo from Procreate

Painting Tools

You can find this section on the top right of the screen. It has everything you need to get started with your project, including the following:

  • Paint
  • Smudge
  • Erase
  • Layers
  • Color



This section allows you to modify your tools. It is located on the left side of the screen to make it more accessible. Sidebar helps you with the following tasks:

  • Adjust brush size
  • Modify button
  • Control brush opacity
  • Undo or redo action


Advanced Features

If you need to make complex adjustments to your work, this section has the tools you would need. You will find it in the top left menu bar. This section includes:

  • Gallery
  • Actions
  • Adjustments
  • Selections
  • Transform

This setup, however, may not work for other users. Fortunately, Procreate lets you customize your interface. For example, you can choose between light and dark interfaces. It also allows you to move the sidebar from left to right so you will be more comfortable.



One of the struggles when using an art app is the responsiveness of the software to the user’s gestures. Since Procreate has intuitive gestures, you will be more in control over your work. Procreate gestures include the following:


Basic Gestures

Photo from Procreate

These gestures help you move around your canvas and perform different tasks using your fingertips.

  • Touch to Paint, Smudge, or Erase
  • Pinch to Zoom
  • Pinch-Twist to Rotate
  • Quick Pinch to Fit Screen
  • Two-Finger Tap to Undo
  • Three-finger Tap to Redo
  • Scrub to Clear with Three Fingers
  • Three-Finger Swipe to Cut, Copy, and Paste
  • Four-Finger Tap for Full Screen
  • Draw and Hold for QuickShape


Layer Gestures

These gestures are designed to help you work quickly in the Layers panel.

  • Pinch to Merge
  • Tap to Select Primary Layer
  • Swipe Right to Select Secondary Layer
  • Layer Opacity by Tapping With Two Fingers
  • Swipe Right With Two Fingers for Alpha Lock
  • Two-Finger Hold to Select Layer Contents

Like the interface, Procreate also allows you to modify these gestures to improve your efficiency. You can toggle most shortcuts on or off, or set multiple shortcuts for one function. But keep in mind that you can’t set the same shortcut to different functions.



Procreate Gallery
Photo from Procreate

This section of the handbook will help you organize your Gallery, learn how Procreate stores your projects, and know how-to import images and share your artworks.



Start creating your artwork by choosing the right canvas. Procreate has a variety of preset canvases you can choose from for your project. But you can also create your own to suit your project well.



This feature allows you to view artworks in full screen. It also lets you see animations and preview your works without leaving the Gallery.



Procreate’s Gallery helps you keep your workspace organized. You can use Stacks so your projects stay tidy and keep you efficient.


Import and Share

You can import images to the Gallery to create a new canvas. Your beautiful artwork also should stay hidden. Procreate allows you to share your works worldwide.


File Types

Procreate believes nothing should limit your creativity. That is why it gives you the ability to import and export projects in different image formats, such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and GIF, among others.

The app also stores your projects on your iPad in .procreate file format. This helps load your works faster and takes up less space on your device. The unique file also makes it easier to share files with other Procreate artists.



Procreate Brushes
Photo from Procreate

Procreate is equipped with a wide array of brushes suitable for sketching, smudging, painting, and erasing. This section of the handbook will guide you on how to use particular brushes and how to organize, store, and create your brushes.


Brush Library

This is where you can edit, organize, and explore the brush selections built into Procreate. The library contains different sets of brushes divided into multiple categories, such as Sketching, Drawing, Inking, Artistic, Painting, Calligraphy, Textures, Charcoals, Airbrushing, and other artistic uses.

The Library Basic consists of the following controls.

  • Add – create custom Brush Sets to keep your collection of modified and new brushes.
  • Edit – use this tool to modify an existing brush.
  • Organize – position your Brush Set according to your preferences.
  • Duplicate – you have to make your copy of a default Brush Set if you want to customize it.
  • Rename – keep your Library organized by giving your Brush Sets unique names.
  • Delete – remove any unwanted and unused custom brushes for a cleaner Library.
  • Share – Procreate allows you to share your custom brushes and Brush Sets with other artists who use the app.
  • Import – add new brushes or Brush Sets to Procreate.


Brush Studio

Procreate wants you to create artwork the way you want it. Brush Studio allows you to create brand new brushes or customize the existing ones. You can do some basic alterations or utilize a plethora of effects.

Three Parts Brush Studio Interface:

  • Attributes – a brush on Procreate has 11 attributes you can edit. For example, you can change its shape and grain or adjust how Procreate renders the outcome.
  • Settings – this section has different categories, like sliders and toggles, to help you adjust a variety of brush attributes.
  • Drawing Pad – you can preview your brushes in this section so you don’t have to leave the Brush Studio.


Drawing Guides and Assistance

Drawing Guides
Photo from Procreate


Procreate is built with a wide range of Drawing Guides and assistive tools to let you focus on your artwork. These tools help you create a structure for your project. You can activate a guide you need, select the appropriate functions, and adjust how it looks.

Here are the guides and assistance you can use.

  • 2D Grid – this helps maintain your work in proportion. 2D Grids are ideal for projects that involve two-dimensional shapes. It also keeps your strokes aligned when used with Drawing Assist.
  • Drawing Assist – this assistance matches your strokes to your chosen Drawing Guide. Using this tool helps you create technically accurate drawings and makes your workflow faster.
  • Perspective Guide – it offers adjustable vanishing points that you can use to create realistic objects and backgrounds.
  • Symmetry Guide – this mirrors your art across multiple planes, which can help you create incredible effects.
  • Isometric Guide – it gives you the control to add a third dimension to your creations. This guide is useful if you’re making technical graphics for engineering, agriculture, and other industries.
  • QuickShape – this tool snaps precise hand-drawn lines and shapes easily. You can adjust these shapes according to the look you want.

You can read the handbook from start to finish before using the Procreate app. Some artists like to explore it organically by clicking from link to link. You can also consult it whenever you’re having trouble understanding or using the tools.


How to Use Procreate on an iPad?

Since Procreate is an exclusive app, you can only use it on iPads. If you’re purchasing the latest version of the app, which is the Procreate 5.0, you will need iPadOS 13.2 or newer so you can install the app.

Here are the iPad models that the current version of Procreate supports.

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro
  • 11-inch iPad Pro
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad (5th, 6th, and 7th generations)
  • mini (4th & 5th generation)
  • Air (2nd & 3rd generation)


In case the latest iOS version doesn’t support your iPad, you can still get the Procreate app. This, however, will depend on the App Store behavior. If you can’t download the app from the App Store, you may try this method.

  1. Go to the App Store, and buy Procreate as a gift.
  2. Send the gift purchase to your email.
  3. Use the link in your email to redeem the purchase.
  4. Download a compatible version of the app from the Purchased section of your App Store account.


Updating the Procreate App

Start making artworks by using the latest version of Procreate. If your iPad is supported by the current version of the app, update your Procreate to enjoy new and improved features. Here’s how you can update your app:

  1. Open the App Store.
  2. Access your Account menu.
  3. Find Procreate in the list of updates available.
  4. Tap the Update button next to Procreate.

Make sure that you’re using the latest iOS version to make the update successful. Additions and changes in the latest version of Procreate are mostly based on the latest iOS technologies.


Using Procreate with Apple Pencil

Create beautiful artwork on Procreate using Apple Pencil 2, a vital tool if you’re using the latest iPad Pros. This generation of Apple Pencil will not pair with older iPad models.

Using Apple Pencil with Procreate helps you work on your project efficiently. It allows you to switch between brushes and erasers, navigate your layers at ease, or explore pop-up menus conveniently.


Procreate Alternatives for Android Users

The use of Procreate is only limited to iPad users. Unless you can buy yourself an iPad, there are similar art apps and procreate alternatives you can use on your Windows and Android devices. Here are the top three apps you can try.


Adobe Photoshop Sketch

Adobe Sketch app
© Photo by Google Play

This app is suitable for artists who like using Photoshop’s brush tools. Adobe Photoshop Sketch is designed for creating digital art. It has seamless Adobe product integration, which allows you to import brushes you have used in other Adobe products, like Photoshop. You can also export your work to Photoshop and Lightroom.


Autodesk Sketchbook

Autodesk Sketch art drafting and drawing apps
© Photo by Google Play

Autodesk has established a name for designing and modeling software suites known for AutoCAD solutions. This app is suitable for individuals who need advanced tools. It also has a pen-friendly interface like Procreate. The downside of SketchBook, however, is that it doesn’t have many brushes compared to Procreate, which has over 120 brushes.



ArtRage drawing app
© Photo by ArtRage on Google Play

The thing that makes this app stand out is that it tries to mimic real paint as naturally as possible. That’s why it is ideal for artists who prefer traditional painting but want to shift to digital art. The app allows artists to mix colors and provides tools to help you control the wetness, thickness, and light direction of the painting.


Pros and Cons of Using Procreate App

Procreate is a powerful app for professional artists looking for software that can allow them to work on their projects conveniently and for beginner artists who want to improve their style in digital art. Like other apps, however, Procreate also has its advantages and disadvantages that are worth looking into so you can make a smart purchase.


The Pros

1. Brushes

What makes Procreate better than other art apps is its wide selection of brushes. It also allows you to create your own and download brushes made by other Procreate artists. If you’re used to using Photoshop, you can download its brushes to your app, as well.


2. Smooth Workflow

Procreate’s interface makes it easy for artists to zoom in and out and rotate their canvases. This helps you work efficiently without lagging.


3. Format

The problem with other apps is that the formats they support are limited. In Procreate, you can work with JPEG, PNG, PDF, PSD, and TIFF files. This allows you to export your unfinished projects and work on them on a desktop easily.


The Cons

1. No Vectors

If you like working with vector shapes and masks in Illustrator and Photoshop, you’ll have a hard time achieving smooth lines in your drawing when you use Procreate. But you can use this opportunity to improve your hand drawing skills.


2. Only Available on iPad

Procreate is more affordable compared to other similar software. Unless you already have an iPad, other costs can hinder you from using the app. Not only do you have to get an updated iPad, but you also need to buy accessories like Apple Pencil to make the most of Procreate features.


3. No Free Version

You need to purchase Procreate on the App Store to use it. Unlike other apps, Procreate doesn’t have a free version nor does it offer a free trial. You wouldn’t have the chance to test out the app before paying for it.

Procreate is packed with features creatives will enjoy. If you prefer working on your artwork using a tablet, then this app is perfect for you. It can potentially replace other apps and software, depending on how you use it. The app is also a bargain, given all the things you can do with it. However, worth it or not, it’s your choice to decide. But perhaps, there’s no harm giving Procreate a try.