Procreate Layer Opacity: How to Master It


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Procreate is one of the best digital drawing and art programs I’ve ever used. It’s capabilities are practically endless and it’s fairly easy to navigate given everything it can do. In order to get the most out of this amazing design program, you need to understand a key feature: layer opacity.

To change the layer opacity in Procreate, open the Layers panel and expand the settings of the layer you want to adjust to access the opacity slider. As a shortcut to change the opacity in Procreate, tap on the layer with two fingers and a slider will appear on your screen.

Layer opacity is a REALLY important thing to understand if you’re going to use Procreate well, let alone to its full capacity.

Let’s run through  the basics of using layer opacity in Procreate so that you can start mastering this great design program.

If you’re interested in checking out some of the best digital drawing accessories to make drawing on your iPad easier, click here!

How to See Opacity in Procreate

With the update to Procreate 5, Procreate removed the Opacity tool from the Adjustments tab. Instead, to see a layer’s opacity, tap two fingers on your desired layers, which will bring up the opacity slider. You can also click on the “N” on your layer to pull up the opacity slider within your layer.

If you are used to older versions of Procreate, things have changed with the release of Procreate 5. Opacity is no longer in the Adjustments tab along with Liquify, Bloom, Blur, etc.

With the new update, there are two ways to see the current opacity levels of your layers in Procreate:

1. Double tap the layer within your layers panel with two fingers.

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2. Through the “Layers” tab in the top menu, which is displayed as a series of stacked boxes.

Once you open the “Layers” tab, choose the layer you want to see.

3. Click on the “N” next to the layer you want to change the opacity of.

This will open another series of menu options. At the top of this new menu, you’ll see an opacity slider.

Keep in mind that all layers start off with 100% opacity, meaning they are fully visible and not being diluted at all. 

Also keep in mind that you can only see and adjust the opacity of one layer at a time. Even when looking at the opacity within the “Layers” tab, you’ll only see the opacity for the layer you’ve selected and opened the additional menu options for.

As a side note, if you’re new to Procreate and are wondering what technology you can use with it, here’s the scoop. Procreate is designed for the iPad, which gives you a great excuse to splurge on a nice, new iPad.

Is it Worth Buying an iPad for Procreate
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If you want to get into digital drawing, you want to use Procreate. It’s an AMAZING program. That means you’ll want to get an iPad if you don’t already have one, or if yours is really old.

You’ll also want an Apple Pencil. The Apple Pencil and the Logitech Crayon are the only styluses that are confirmed to work with Procreate. You can use third party styluses, but you might get wonky results.

does procreate only work with the apple pencil?
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The Apple Pencil is phenomenal. It’s like using a real-life pencil on your iPad. I’ve used other styluses and they’re clunky, imprecise, and delayed. I’ve never had those issues with the Apple Pencil. If you really want to get started with digital drawing on the right foot, an Apple Pencil is highly recommended.

Click here to check out the current price for the iPad on Amazon!

Recommended Procreate Tools

These are my favorite Procreate tools that I wouldn't be able to live my Procreate life without!

  • Skillshare: I take a LOT of Skillshare classes and they are the reason that I started using Procreate in the first place. These classes are amazing and you can take them for FREE! Click here to get a 30 day free trial of Skillshare 
  • Matte Screen Protector: these matte screen protectors will make your iPad screen feel more like traditional paper. Click here to find them on Amazon! Make sure to get the right size for your iPad model.
  • Printful: it's SO rewarding to see your own art on a shirt, mug, sticker, poster, and so much more. Whether you want to start selling your art and sharing it with the world, or you just want a gift for yourself or a friend, having a great printer is important. Printful is my favorite print provider, offering a ton of high quality products to print your own art on. Check them out and sign up for a free account here!

Click here to check out the current price for the Apple Pencil on Amazon!

Lastly, I’m a huge fan of the paperfeel screen protector. Not only does it protect your screen, but it gives it a texture that feels like paper. This makes a big difference in decreasing the slipperiness of your screen and makes it feel like regular paper. It’s inexpensive and totally worth it.

Click here to check out the current price for the Paperfeel Screen Protector on Amazon!

Ok, now that we’ve debriefed the tools you need to be successful with Procreate, let’s dive into its opacity settings.

How to Control Opacity in Procreate

With the update to Procreate 5, Procreate removed the Opacity tool from the Adjustments tab. Instead, to change a layer’s opacity, tap two fingers on your desired layers, which will bring up the opacity slider. You can also click on the “N” on your layer to pull up the opacity slider within your layer.

Technically, there are 3 ways to control the opacity of your layers within Procreate. Two of them are related to what we already talked about, plus one unique shortcut.

1. Make sure that your desired layer is selected.

You can select it by going to the “Layers” tab with the menu at the top of the screen. It’s the one that looks like a series of stacked boxes. Open that “Layers” tab and make sure the layer you want to change the opacity of is selected.

Within the “Layers” tab, use two fingers to tap on your layer. This will bring up the opacity slider as you are accustomed to from previous versions of Procreate.

Simply slide your finger to the left to decrease the opacity and to the right to increase it.

procreate opacity slider

There you have it! Here’s another method.

2. Click the “Layers” tab within the menu at the top of the screen. 

Select the layer you want to change the opacity of. Click the “N” that you see within that layer’s tab. It’s to the right of the layer’s thumbnail.

Once you click the “N,” you’ll see a new menu of options open up, with an opacity slider at the top. Simply slide the opacity to the layer you need.

Decide which method is the most efficient for you. Both are quick and easy, so it might not seem like a big deal to pick a preferred one, but every step you can eliminate will save you time in the long run. Especially if you use the opacity feature a lot, those extra steps will make a difference. Your fingers and/or stylus will thank you. 

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How to Control the Opacity of a Layer in Procreate Pocket

To control the opacity in Procreate Pocket, click the “Modify” tab at the top of the screen and click the magic wand symbol. Click “Opacity” and use your finger to increase and decrease the opacity of your layer.

Procreate Pocket is the Procreate app designed for the iPhone instead of the iPad. Many of the functions work in the same way; they’re simply more compact due to the smaller screen size.

Let’s run through the steps again, broken down:

1. Click the “Modify” tab at the very left of the top menu bar.

2. When you click the “Modify” tab, find the magic wand symbol and click it. This is the same as the “Adjustments” tab in the Procreate iPad app.

3. Within the “Adjustments” tab, click “Opacity” and slide your finger across the screen until you’re at your desired opacity level. 

If you want to take your Procreate skills to the next level, I REALLY suggest Skillshare. Skillshare is how I learned Procreate myself and it made a huge difference in setting the foundation for my digital art skills. If you click HERE, you’ll get a free trial of Skillshare completely free. That’s a lot of time to learn this amazing design program!

Things to Keep in Mind When Changing Layer Opacity

Once you get the hang of using the opacity settings within Procreate, it’ll be second nature and something you don’t have to think about too much. That said, there are some important things to keep in mind so that you don’t get frustrated.

1. You can’t change the opacity of multiple layers at once. You can have only one layer selected when adjusting opacity layers, if you try to do it with multiple layers selected, you’ll get an error message. 

You can only change the opacity of one layer at a time.

procreate select multiple layers
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2. If you think you lost a layer, check the opacity. Especially once you accumulate a lot of layers, it’s easy to forget that you set one to 0% opacity and then suddenly wonder where it went. 

Should you find yourself with a case of the disappearing layer, check your opacity and make sure it isn’t accidentally set to 0%.

3. Deselect layers instead of setting them to 0% opacity. Let’s just avoid the problem we just talked about. If you don’t need a layer, deselect it by checking the box that’s too the right of the “N.” It’s quicker and easier than adjusting the opacity levels and it avoids the problem of losing your layers.

Procreate is an amazing design program that’s easy to use once you get the hang of it. Master these opacity settings and you’ll be well on your way to unlocking the potential of this amazing program. Go forth and create great art!

Diana Fitts

Diana has been an artist for over 25 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.

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