You’re having a great time drawing in Procreate when, suddenly, your lines start looking pixelated. This can be a frustrating problem that feels helpless. How do you get smooth edges and avoid the pixelation? Luckily, there are some things you can do to avoid this pixelation problem.
Pixelation problems with Procreate are usually due to the canvas size being wrong. For the least amount of pixelation, make your canvas the appropriate size for your final product. Procreate is a raster-based program, so if you zoom in too much, or your canvas is the wrong size, you will usually see some pixelation.
With the right steps, you can make sure that every Procreate image comes out crisp and clean instead of blurry and pixelated. Let’s talk about how to get rid of this pixelation for good, and then why it happens in the first place. In this case, knowing why it happens helps with knowing how to fix it.
Fix Pixelation in Procreate By Carefully Choosing Canvas Size
A lot of the issues with pixelated Procreate designs comes from having canvas sizes that are too small, or the wrong size in general. An easy fix is to create canvases that are the appropriate size for your final result, or erring on the bigger side.
If you know what size your want your final product to be, great! Go with that. Not only will you reduce pixelation, you’ll avoid the quality loss issues that come from resizing your work.
If you’re not sure what size you need, aim for something large. At minimum, don’t go smaller than size of your iPad if you don’t want it appearing pixelated on your screen.
A lot of pixelation issues happen from creating canvases that are too small.
Your screen is a certain size. If you create a canvas that is significantly smaller than your screen, your iPad is going to try to stretch out the canvas so that it’s still viewable.
Take a look at the example below. This is the technical pen on a 1″x1″ canvas. See how pixelated it is, even for an otherwise smooth brush. This is because 1″x1″ is so small in comparison to my iPad screen.
Even though I haven’t done any resizing or manipulation of my drawing at all, when my iPad stretches out the canvas so that I can see it, it becomes pixelated.
Your Procreate app will tell you the pixels of your screen when you create a canvas with their default screen size option.
At the very minimum, you’ll want to create canvases that are the size of your screen. That said, if you plan to print your Procreate art, make sure to consider the sizing of your art carefully to make sure it will print well at the size you need.
The smaller and smaller your canvas gets, the more likely you’ll run into pixelation issues when viewing it on your iPad.
I have a complete guide on choosing the right canvas size for digital art that will help you pick the canvases you need depending on your project.
Don’t Resize Your Design Significantly
Think about what happens when you have a small image and you stretch it across a larger screen. It gets blurry and pixelated. That’s what happens when you stretch your design. It was made at a smaller size and the pixels need to stretch out as the image stretches.
To have the best chance of avoiding pixelation and getting smooth edges, avoid resizing your work as much as possible.
Resizing happens with the Transform tool – the one with the arrow icon. I have a guide on the Transform tool if you want to learn more about this awesome Procreate feature. Just use it sparingly if you’re worried about quality loss!
Procreate is a raster-based program, which means that your art is created out of pixels. When you resize your design, you’re forcing your pixels to either squash or stretch to meet your new size requirements.
If you’ve increased your canvas size, you might see pixelation because your existing pixels are spreading out too much in order to create your design on a larger canvas. This is different from vector programs like Illustrator, which allow for resizing without any negative effects from pixelation.
This stretching can happen whether you’re resizing your entire canvas, or using the Transform tool to resize individual parts of your art. Not only can resizing lead to pixelation, it can also lead to quality loss, which we’ll talk about next.
Choose Your Interpolation Settings Carefully
When you resize objects with the Transform tool, choose either the Bilinear or Bicubic interpolation setting to prevent your lines from becoming pixelated as you resize them.
I have an in depth post about how these interpolation settings work and how they can impact the pixelation of your work as you resize your elements. Be sure to check that out for more info.
Fix Pixelation in Procreate By Changing Brushes
Procreate brushes vary in their graininess, flow, and saturation. If you’re struggling with pixelation with your designs, try changing your brush to one that is smoother. A good choice would be to use a paint brush instead of a pencil brush or charcoal brush.
Brush choice doesn’t matter as much as canvas size as far as pixelation is concerned, but it can help. If you’re looking for more great Procreate brushes, check out my list of free Procreate calligraphy brushes and my list of Procreate blending brushes.
Procreate does an amazing job of replicating real life art tools in a digital form. Graphite pencil brushes in Procreate look a whole lot like real graphite pencils in real life. This is true of paints, pens, inks, and more. It’s pretty neat.
But what it also means is that Procreate isn’t going to use digital magic to compensate for the natural graininess of a pencil. You can do this on your own, which we’ll talk about in the next section, but the pencil brush itself will look like the grainy pencil you know and love in physical form.
What’s really neat about this is that you can create art with Procreate that looks like it was created in a traditional, not digital way. What isn’t neat about it is that you might end up with some bumps and inconsistencies that you’ll need to smooth out.
Does DPI Matter for Procreate?
DPI stands for dots per inch and is a reference to how close the ink dots are in an image when it is printed. It’s important to have a DPI of at least 300 when printing work. DPI matters less for art that’s designed for web use, but should still be considered.
Many people want to blame DPI for their Procreate pixelation problems, but it’s not always the case. DPI mainly comes into play when you print an image. If you plan to print your Procreate design, you should make sure your DPI is at least 300.
But, unless your DPI is extremely low, it’s likely not the biggest culprit of the pixelation issues you’re seeing in your art when you’re looking at it on your iPad screen.
How do I make Procreate lines smoother?
To make lines smoother with Procreate, choose a brush that has a more fluid stroke, increase the streamline slider in the settings of the brush you’re using, or use the smudge tool to blend any ragged edges.
The first suggestion relates to what we’ve already talked about. Procreate works hard to ensure that their brushes look like real-life art materials. And, luckily, Procreate gives you a ton to choose from and they’re really easy to switch between. If you feel like a brush isn’t smooth enough, try another one.
Even great artists have shaky hands at times. Even if the lines aren’t pixelated, it’s easy to get lines that are jagged and have a few bumps. A quick fix for this is to increase the “streamline” slider.
This can be found within the Taper settings of the brush you’re using, which you can access by tapping on the brush. When you increase the “streamline” feature, you’ll notice that your lines are more smooth.
In the example below, I set the streamline to the maximum so that you can see what it looks like on a brush. Experiment with the slider to find the amount of streamline that works for you.
If I’m working on large swaths of lines, I like to use the smudge tool to blend things. This won’t work for crisp and clean outer lines, but it works wonders for smoothing our large chunks of pencil or color.
Alright, now that we’ve talked about all of the ways to avoid pixelation with Procreate, let’s talk about why it happens in the first place and always will happen to some degree.
Why Does Pixelation Happen with Procreate?
Procreate is a raster-based program, which means that its lines and designs are created out of pixels. This is different from a program like Illustrator that creates vectors. For pixel-based programs, there’s always a chance of pixelation if the canvas is too small or the design is zoomed in.
Your heart may have sunk when you read that there’s a point where you will always see some pixelation. It’s true, but it’s true for newspapers and prints as well. It’s true for anything that uses pixels.
If you want to avoid pixelation altogether, you can create vector images.
In fact, this is why a lot of designers like programs like Illustrator. You can scale them up or down without any distortion to the image.
Aside from Illustrator and other vector programs, a lot of the world is made out of pixels. If you’re interested in digital drawing or design, it’s just something you’ll have to deal with. Luckily with the few simple tips we’ve talked about above, it won’t be a problem when using Procreate.
Diana has been an artist for over 26 years and has training in drawing, painting, digital drawing and graphic design. Diana’s latest obsession is digitally drawing with Procreate and creating t-shirt designs with Canva. Diana has experience selling her art across a number of platforms and loves helping other artists learn how to make money from their art as well.