You sit down for a productive Procreate art session, only to find that your entire color wheel is stuck in grayscale. No matter what you do, you can only seem to get colors ranging from white to black. You’re living in gray-land. Where did the rainbow go?
If your Procreate color wheel is stuck in grayscale, make sure you haven’t imported an image that was created in a gray color profile. Next, make sure you aren’t trying to draw on a layer mask. Lastly, do a hard reboot of Procreate to see if you can restore your colorful color wheel.
It’s easy to accidentally kick your color wheel into grayscale. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to kick it back over to the full rainbow spectrum of colors again.
We’re going to dive into the 3 most common reasons why your Procreate color wheel may be stuck in grayscale and what you can do about it.
Side note: if you found this post because you actually DO want to use Procreate in grayscale, but don’t know how, I have a full guide on how to use Procreate in grayscale.
Check the Color Profiles of the Images You’ve Uploaded
If you’ve uploaded an image to your Procreate design that was created in a grayscale color profile, this will trigger Procreate to use a grayscale color wheel for that design. To fix this issue, convert the image to an RGB or CMYK color profile and upload it to a new Procreate canvas.
This method only applies if you’ve uploaded any black and white images to your Procreate design. This includes lettering worksheets, which we often don’t traditionally think of as black and white images, but sometimes are.
Also, this is for each individual Procreate design. This isn’t a question of whether you’ve EVER uploaded a black and white image to Procreate. Right now, for this design where you’re having an issue with your color wheel being stuck in grayscale, did you upload any black and white images to it?
If you haven’t, you can skip this section and move on to the second fix on this list.
If you DID upload any black and white images to your Procreate design, this is likely where your color wheel issue is coming from.
Another good thing to check is whether this issue is popping up for all of your Procreate designs, or just one. If this is happening to all of your Procreate designs, it’s a pervasive issue.
But, if it’s happening to just this one design, it’s more likely that your images or layers (we’ll talk about that next) are the issue.
If that’s the case, here’s what you need to do:
1. Find the original image and look at the image’s details.
If you don’t have the original image anymore, or don’t want to worry about looking at the details, just assume this is the issue and do the rest of the steps on the list to see if you can get your color wheel out of grayscale.
2. Look in the image’s details for its color profile and see if it says “gray.”
Find the area within your image’s details where it lists the color profile it was created with. If you see anything within the color profile that says “gray,” you’ve found your issue!
When you upload an image to Procreate that was created with a gray color profile, this will trigger Procreate to use a gray color profile for that design. Yes, this includes your color wheel.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to change the color profile of your current Procreate design.
Here’s how to check.
Click on the Actions tab → then the Canvas button → and then the Canvas information button. Next, click on the Color profile button.
On this screen, you’ll see the color profile that your design is currently using. If you see the word “gray” in it, you’ve again confirmed that this is the issue. Below that, you may or may not see a list of available color profiles that you can use.
Most likely, if you’re using a gray color profile, you won’t see any color profiles listed. This means that we’ll need to start over and create a new Procreate design in order to use a different color profile and restore your non-grayscale color wheel.
For example, here is what I see when I’m using a gray color profile. No other options available.
And here’s what I see when I use a RGB color profile in Procreate. I have other options I can switch between.
Important note: when you’re using a gray color scale in Procreate, everything will be gray, not just your color palette. If you upload any additional images to this design, they will appear in grayscale too.
Alright, so now that we know why this is happening, let’s continue on with fixing it.
3. Convert the image to a non-gray color profile.
Personally, the way I do this is by taking a screenshot of the black and white photo I’m using. The screenshot will likely be in an RGB color profile you’ll be able to use.
You can do this right from Procreate. Just crop your screenshot down to solely show your image.
I do this because I normally don’t care very much about the quality of the image. They’re usually practice worksheets or reference photos that don’t need to be high resolution and perfect.
If this is the case for you, taking a screenshot will be your easiest bet as well.
If you do care about the quality of the image you use, you’ll want to convert your image from a gray color profile to an RGB or CMYK color profile in an image editor to make sure you’re maintaining high resolution.
4. Create a new Procreate canvas and import your new image to it.
Like we talked about, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to change the color profile of an existing design from gray to multi-colored.
So, we’ll need to create a new canvas.
Simply create a new canvas in your Procreate Gallery and import the new, converted image that you just created in a non-gray color profile.
Since this converted image is in a non-gray color profile, you should be good to go! Open you color wheel to confirm that all of your beautiful, rainbow colors are back.
If this didn’t work, or you didn’t upload any images to your design, try this second fix.
Make Sure You Aren’t Using a Layer Mask
Procreate layer masks let you hide portions of your design without needing to permanently erase them. This is great for making changes to your art that you can easily reverse. You’ll only be able to white, gray, or black colors since they are serving more as erasers than they are as colors.
When using a layer mask, you’ll be able to see your beautiful, colorful color wheel. But, when you select a color, it will revert to black, white, or a shade of gray.
This is because layer masks don’t use colors in the same way that traditional layers do. In order for them to work correctly, they can’t use colors.
Think of layer masks as a way to temporarily erase or hide parts of your design, not as a way to add colorful design elements.
To confirm if this is your issue, simply open your layers panel and make sure you don’t have a layer mask actively selected.
If you do, switch to a different layer and see if that fixes your problem.
Ok, if you’ve gotten to this point and your color wheel is still stuck in grayscale, there’s one more method to try.
Do a Hard Reboot of Your iPad and Run Any Software Updates
If your Procreate color wheel is stuck in grayscale and nothing else has worked, try to do a hard reboot of your iPad by closing out all of your open apps and holding down the home button and the lock button until your iPad goes black. Once your iPad restarts, see if your color wheel is no longer in grayscale.
Before you do anything, make sure you have everything back up. A hard reboot of your iPad shouldn’t impact your content, but I always love to leave a plug for backing up your work 🙂
Whenever you notice a Procreate bug, triple check you have backups. This is a good practice anyways, but especially when the app is acting up, you need to be 100% sure you have your bases covered.
I have a full guide about saving your Procreate work and backing it up on a regular basis that is required reading for any Procreate users who don’t want to go through the heartache of ever losing their artwork!
Another important note before we do the reboot:
DO NOT DELETE THE PROCREATE APP! Again, do NOT delete the Procreate app or even touch it!
A hard reboot of your iPad does NOT require touching any of your apps. It’s just a way of restarting it. So, again, do NOT touch your Procreate app. If you do, you could lose your artwork, which would be bad.
Ok, so to do a hard reboot, hold down your iPad’s home button and the lock button at the same time until it goes black. Let go of the buttons and let your iPad restart.
After you’ve given your iPad some time to wake up, check your Procreate color wheel and see if it’s no longer stuck in grayscale.
Another good tip is to check for any software updates, both for iPad and your Procreate app. If either of them haven’t been updated in a long time, it can cause glitches and issues.
Procreate issues can lessen the fun of an art session, especially when the issue is as big as not having any colors available to you to use in your color wheel.
I hope these tips and tricks have helped you restore your beautiful, colorful color palette and given the resources and knowledge you need should it ever get stuck in grayscale again in the future.
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.