Procreate is an iPad and iPhone drawing app that many artists use to create stunning art and designs. We usually don’t have to worry about backing up and saving the work that we do in our apps, but Procreate is different. We don’t want all of our hard work to disappear if something were to happen to the Procreate software or our devices. How is work saved in Procreate? Where do the files go? How can we protect ourselves against losing all of it in the case of a crash?
It’s important to back up and save your Procreate files in multiple locations. Set up automatic iCloud backups on your iPad, and manually export your Procreate file library to a second cloud library or external hard drive to ensure all of your Procreate files are properly saved and backed up.
To be honest, saving a library full of Procreate designs isn’t super easy or intuitive. In the Procreate forums, this is a topic that users get fairly frustrated and confused about. There isn’t an easy, automatic way of saving your designs beyond the app.
Firstly, we’ll talk about what happens in Procreate to save your artwork as you’re creating it. Next, we’ll talk about what doesn’t happen and what you need to do to back up and save your Procreate files to be prepared for that.
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 Save in Procreate
Procreate autosaves your work as you go. Everytime you lift your stylus or finger, the Procreate app registers the change and saves it. If you click back to your gallery and back to your design, you’ll see that your work is current and up to date.
99% of the time, you don’t need to worry about Procreate autosaving your designs while you’re working. It works really well. I say 99% because glitches happen. I’ve never had a problem in all of my time using Procreate though.
Making sure that the Procreate saves your designs while you’re working isn’t a problem. Saving your entire design library is. Let’s talk about that next.
Where Does Procreate Save Files?
Procreate saves your files within the gallery of the Procreate app with the extension .procreate. These are Procreate specific files that only work within the Procreate ecosystem. There isn’t an external folder in your iPad or iPhone where your designs get automatically sent.
This is why it’s important to make the effort to save your Procreate files in other locations. I’m a huge Procreate fan, but I never support keeping all of your eggs in one basket. If something happens to your iPad or iPhone and you can’t restore a backup properly, you’re in trouble.
How to Backup Your Procreate Files
An iCloud backup of your iPhone or iPad is a good start for backing up your Procreate files. iCloud backups aren’t perfect though, so it’s important to back up your designs on another cloud service or on an external hard drive as well.
Setting up automatic iCloud backups is the bare minimum for protecting your Procreate files. This is the bare minimum for protecting anything on your iPad or iPhone.
If you’ve ever relied upon an iCloud backup though, you know it isn’t perfect. These backups are large and slow. I’ve had the backups crash and leave me with a hodgepodge of apps and files. Other times, it has worked perfectly.
This is especially true if you have a lot of files and data in your Procreate gallery and app.
That said, an iCloud backup is where you want to start.
Important note: when restoring an iCloud backup, be extremely patient. You may need to wait days, if not weeks, for the restoration process to finish.
Make sure that you have automatic iCloud backups setup and that Procreate is included in that. Remember that your files are stored within the Procreate app. If you restore the Procreate app, it should restore your Procreate designs. Again, this isn’t always guaranteed.
Personally, I don’t want to rely solely on iCloud backups. My Procreate artwork means too much to me. This is why I also manually backup all of my Procreate files.
Firstly, let’s talk about the type of files to save. Then, we’ll talk about how to save them.
The Types of Procreate Files to Backup
Backup your .procreate files so that you can have editable Procreate files to work with should you need to make changes to your designs. These are the only files that you can open within Procreate as a regular Procreate file. You can import a .jpg or .png, but it will function like an imported picture, not an editable Procreate file.
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!
Now let's get back to the article!
It’s also good to store your files in another format that you commonly use, like .jpg or .png. This gives you a quick image you can use for your print on demand store, social media, web portfolio, and more.
Backing Up Your Procreate Files
In addition to iCloud backups, back up your Procreate files within another cloud system like Google Drive as well as on an external hard drive. Having your files backed up in multiple places is the best way to make sure that your designs are safe should something happen to your app or devices.
It’s a great idea to get in the habit of backing up your designs as you’re working on them, and after you finish them.
Make it a natural part of your process.
Personally, I have a folder on my iPad for my Procreate work. Within that folder, I have two more folders – one for “In Progress” work and another for “Completed” work.
As I’m creating my art, I will periodically export a .procreate file to the “In Progress” folder. That way, if my iPad randomly combusts, I don’t have to start over with the piece of art I was working on.
Once I’ve finished my piece of art, before closing out the Procreate app, I export the .procreate file again. This time though, I export it to the “Completed” folder. I also export a .png file to this folder as well. That way, I have a workable Procreate file and an image file of my piece of art backed up to my Google Drive account.
Another option is to export your Procreate files to your desktop using AirDrop.
Create a folder on your computer for your Procreate files and designs. Now they are stored safely on your computer should something happen to your iPad or iPhone. But, what if something happens to your computer.
This is where Backblaze comes in. Backblaze is an automatic backup system that will automatically backup all of the files on your computer. I’ve used Backblaze for a number of years and it works really well.
If you get a new computer and need to switch over all of your files, or if your computer crashes, Backblaze can restore all of your files. It’s powerful; it works; it takes a lot of the stress out of keeping your files safe. Click here to get a free trial of Backblaze and test out its backup capabilities.
If you don’t have a computer, Backblaze also has an app that you can use on your iPad, iPhone, or Android.
As a last precaution, export your Procreate files to your desktop, and then drop them on an external hard drive. This gives you a physical, non-cloud option that you can rely upon.
And, if Google, Backblaze, Procreate, Apple, and the entire internet implode in a single instant, at least you can pull out your external hard drive to enjoy your Procreate designs during the apocalypse.
It might sound excessive, but external hard drives are a great idea. They’re safe from the whims of software developers and they also come with one flat price, not an ongoing subscription fee.
You can get a hard drive with 2T of storage for practically nothing. That storage capacity at that price is crazy and impossible to pass up. 2T is enough room to store every Procreate file you’ll ever design for the rest of your life.
I have 3 hard drives made by HD. They’re awesome, which the reviews prove. Check out this great 2T WD hard drive on Amazon!
Having 3 hard drives might be excessive, but I’m not taking any chances. All 3 of them are going strong and give my the extra security of knowing that my files are safe.
I have decided to use spinning hard drives because I have so many of them. I figure I would need to be extremely cursed for them all to die on the same day! Knock on wood.
I also don’t travel with them very much, so they aren’t prone to a lot of jostling or damage.
If you do a lot of traveling or only plan to have 1 hard drive that you rely upon, you might want to consider an SSD drive. SSD drives are more expensive than HHD drives, but they do have their benefits. In short, they don’t have any moving parts and they tend to be smaller. This can make them more portable and less prone to breaking.
You can read more about HHD drives and SSD drives and which one is right for you, here.
Having a great external hard drive and using it frequently to back up your files is not only a good Procreate practice, it’s also a great digital life practice. In this digital age, with so much of our lives existing on technical platforms, you need to use an external hard drive and ensure that everything is safe.
Saving your Procreate designs isn’t automatic but, once you get a system down, it’s easy. Make sure that your iCloud backup is set up properly and get in the habit of airdropping your designs to your desktop for Backblaze, Google Drive, and external hard drive storage. That way, if something should happen, you’ll know that your designs are safe in multiple locations.
You never know when your technology will fail you and you’ll need to restore copies of your Procreate designs. You don’t want to lose the art you’ve worked so hard on. Put a few habits and systems in place to make sure you’re protected.
Go forth and create great art!
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.