Procreate is a drawing and art program that has really become one of the hallmarks of the digital art world. To say that it is a powerhouse is an understatement. The problem is that Procreate is really well known and some amazing artists have created some incredible pieces of work with it. Why is this a problem? Well, it can scare away beginning artists who don’t feel like they are “at that level yet.” which is a shame.
Procreate is a digital art app that is great for all levels of artists, from beginning to advanced. That said, beginners will want to invest in their Procreate education to grow their skills and make the most out of the program.
I’ve written a lot about how much of a fangirl I am of Canva and I’m just as much of a fangirl of Procreate as well. These two programs have completely changed my art life for the better.
No matter how you would categorize my skills with this program now, I started off as a complete beginner and went through the journey of figuring out how to make the program work for me. Luckily, it didn’t take long. Even though, there are some important things you need to know and consider as a beginner diving into Procreate.
If you’re interested in checking out some of the best digital drawing accessories to make drawing on your iPad easier, click here!
Get the Right Technology
Alright, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for buying new technology. Having an excuse to buy an iPad and an Apple Pencil was pretty great.
We picked everything up at the Apple Store and headed over to Best Buy to buy a case. Well, there was a PetSmart next store that was having a dog adoption. We never ended up getting that iPad case, but we did wind up with an adorable pup. So, if you want to buy an iPad and Apple Pencil after this, might as well buy it online so that you don’t accidentally come home with a puppy.
Back to the point.
When I brought my iPad home, I immediately downloaded Procreate. Procreate only works on iPads, so this was my first chance to use it!
At the time of this writing, Procreate is only $9.99 for lifetime access. No monthly subscription, add-ons, or hidden fees. You can buy additional brushes to use with Procreate, but you can use the entire app to its full capabilities with this one purchase.
If that seems expensive, you’ll soon realize how powerful Procreate is and how they could easily charge that much on a month to month basis if they wanted to. $9.99 for lifetime access is a steal given everything Procreate can do and how often you’ll be using it.
If you’re serious about learning Procreate, make sure you don’t skimp on the technology. If you have a slow iPad with a cracked screen and a cheap stylus that draws lines that are way off the mark, you’re going to get frustrated really quickly. It’s like filling a Tesla with cheap gas. You might as well Not the best.
As long as your screen is in good shape, you can probably get away with having an older iPad for a while. I HIGHLY recommend getting an Apple Pencil though. These things are amazing. I’ve used a lot of styluses that are less than perfect. They can be imprecise, slow, and buggy. Using an Apple Pencil is like using a real pencil though. They are insanely quick and precise. Ideally, you don’t want to notice that you’re using a stylus. It shouldn’t get in the way of your art. The Apple Pencil doesn’t. You’ll feel like you’re using a real pencil.
Do you Need an Apple Pencil for Procreate?
The only two styluses that are said to be compatible with Procreate are the Apple Pencil and Logitech Crayon. You won’t be doing yourself any favors if you’re struggling with a different type of stylus that doesn’t always play well with Procreate. If you can, use your desire to learn Procreate as an excuse to update your technology.
Your stylus will make a HUGE difference in your enjoyment and ease of use of Procreate, so don’t skimp in this area. If you can, get an Apple pencil or Logitech Crayon.
Get a Paperlike Screen Protector for Your iPad
The Apple Pencil may feel like a real pencil, but your iPad surface is still slippery and strange. That’s where the Paperlike Screen Protector comes in! This thing is so cool. It’s a textured iPad screen protector that makes your screen feel more like paper when you’re using it. To say that this is helpful is an understatement. Not only will you protect your screen, but you’ll make your digital drawing life MUCH easier.
It’s Easy to Have Fun Playing Around with Procreate
As we’ll talk about later, Procreate can do a LOT of advanced stuff. What makes it great for beginners though is that there’s a low barrier to entry if you just want to play around with it and get a feel for it. Unlike other digital programs, Procreate has an intuitive dashboard with quick access to a wide range of brushes, pens, pencils, and colors.
Even if you knew nothing about Procreate, you’d be able to jump in there and figure out how to create something. This can make Procreate really fun for artists who want to try out the digital world. It also makes life a lot easier for artists as they progress with the platform.
I mean, who doesn’t want an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that makes a lot of sense? It’s nice to be able to focus on the art side of things without having to worry about the technical aspects of picking colors, manipulating the canvas, or choosing brushes.
When I first downloaded Procreate, I had fun making a mess of things. I wanted to try out all of the different brushes and see what they could do. This made me realize that Procreate can be a really fun app just for relaxing.
Pick out some crazy colors and some fun brushes and run wild. It only takes one finger tap to erase everything, so might as well! Without all of the setup and clean up, Procreate can be a great way to get some stress-free painting done without all of the hassle.
Despite the streamlined nature of Procreate’s interface, you’ll want to take some time to formally learn it.
You’ll Want to Take Time to Learn the Basics
Let’s be clear that I’m the type of person that doesn’t read instructions and ends up with an extra screw after putting together a piece of Ikea furniture. I like to learn the slow and hard way through trial and error. When I first started off with Procreate, I just dove in without guidance. I figured I would learn as I went.
I DID learn, but what I learned is that I would be doing myself a huge favor if I spent even a little bit of time watching videos about some Procreate basics. It paid off! I know that a lot of artists are like me. You like to dive in and see how it goes.
We thrive from learning by our mistakes. In this case though, spending even a couple of hours learning the basics of Procreate will vastly speed up your learning curve. DO IT!
I turned to Skillshare to learn all of the Procreate basics. As someone who is allergic to tutorials and instruction manuals, Skillshare is perfect. All of their classes are very action-oriented, succinct, and productive. You’ll learn what you need to learn and then you’ll be sent on your merry art way.
I highly recommend Skillshare as a place to get an initial foundation in basic Procreate skills. They have more advanced classes as well if you get hooked.
What’s even better is that you can get a free trial of Skillshare. It’s more than enough time to build your Procreate skills and start creating amazing art with this amazing program. No risk; all learning.
Once I understood how to use Procreate, my love for it started to grow. This isn’t to say that there wasn’t still a learning curve, but I started to see more tangible progress and become inspired to improve my skills.
Procreate IS great for beginners, but it’s even more great with a strong foundation. If you don’t you could end up really frustrated. Whether you’re just learning the basics of art, or you’ve been an artist for many years, learning a new type of software can be challenging. Spend even a few hours learning the ropes and you’ll thank yourself later.
It’ll Be Easier if You Stick to Your Roots…to Begin With
I fell in love with art that first time I recreated my favorite Disney character with a piece of printer paper and a yellow Ticonderoga pencil. For years, I loved creating cartoons and characters. As I got older, I started experimenting with realistic pencil drawings and soon became obsessed with drawing portraits, animals, and buildings. Playing around with paint and watercolor is fun, but pencil and paper was always my jam.
When I first started with Procreate, I was inspired by all of the amazing illustrators and digital artists that I follow on Instagram. I wanted to be like them. But, here’s the problem. I’m not skilled in digital illustration yet. I felt like a toddler learning how to walk every time I tried to make an intricate, digital painting. Honestly, it was bad enough that I put away my iPad for a while.
Then, I went back to my roots. I dragged my iPad back out and started to do a pencil drawing. Yes, using Procreate was a different experience than the paper and pencil I was used to but, for the most part, I was back in my wheelhouse. Given my years of practice with pencil drawings, I knew the art side of things. This allowed me to learn Procreate and digital drawing while doing something I already knew how to do.
From an art perspective, start with what you know.
Even though it functions a little differently, Procreate is amazing at having all of the “mediums” function as they would in real life. Watercolors blend as watercolors normally do; pencils blend as pencils normally do; markers stain as they normally stain. It’s actually really impressive and fun to play with.
Even though there are obvious differences between doing art with actual materials and doing art on Procreate. A lot of the art principles you already know still apply. This will make your life MUCH easier as you get started with Procreate. If you’re a watercolorist, start with watercolor on Procreate; if you’re an ink artist, start with ink on Procreate; you get the idea.
Procreate is One Thing, Digital Art is Another
As we just talked about, your learning curve with Procreate will be shortened if you start with your current art skills. Procreate is AMAZING at helping artists recreate traditional art mediums on a digital platform. Most of the time, you can’t even tell that they were made digitally.
The thing is that a lot of us jump into digital art because we’re inspired by the amazing illustrations we’ve seen. But just because we can do one type of art doesn’t mean that we’ll be skilled in another.
It’s like expecting to be great at watercolors when you’ve worked with pen and ink your entire art career. Yes, some skills will carry over, but there will be a lot of foundational skills you’ll need to learn that are specific to that particular medium.
Don’t download Procreate with the thought that you’ll be immediately skilled with digital art. There’s a lot to learn aside from the software. Colors function differently, shading is a whole new world, and don’t even get me started on how complicated layers and masking are.
If you’re interested in learning digital art, treat it the same way as you would learning any other new art medium. Take classes, read blogs, watch tutorials. Start with the basics and grow from there. Luckily, Procreate is an amazing ecosystem for beginners to play around in. As we’ll talk about next, it will grow with you as you learn new techniques and skills.
Procreate is Great for Beginners, But Don’t Stop There
Procreate is really user friendly after you understand the basics. Depending on your goals, you can learn these basics and be a happy camper. Procreate CAN be a really advanced program with a lot of power if you want to devote some time to learning everything that it can do.
It can be really easy to learn the basics of Procreate and stop there. To be honest, Procreate can become really frustrating really fast once you dive into its more advanced techniques and features. It’s totally worth it though. Once you get a grip on everything that Procreate can do, you’ll open your art skills up to a whole new world of possibilities.
My suggestion is to balance your time between learning new Procreate skills and creating art with Procreate that’s in your wheelhouse and you enjoy. If you spend all of your time learning how to use Procreate, you’ll burnout fast and lose the joy of creating art.
A good way to organize it is to commit to completing one tutorial for every piece of fun art that you make. That way, you’ll hold yourself accountable for learning new skills, but you’ll also have an outlet for actually enjoying Procreate.
Procreate is an amazing digital art platform that desires all of the praise and hype that it receives. It can be a great place for beginners to get their feet wet with digital art, but also has everything that the most advanced digital artists would need. If you’re just starting out with Procreate, know that it can grow with you for the entirety of your digital art career without needing to learn new platforms.
Conceivably, Procreate can be the only digital art platform you would ever need. That’s why it’s so important to commit time to learning it. Skillshare has some amazing classes in this area, from beginning to advanced. Skillshare has a great free trial that can get you started on the right path with your Procreate journey. Have fun creating!