Whenever you create a new canvas in Procreate, you’ll be allowed to use a certain number of layers depending on a number of factors. This can either be a blessing or a headache for you as an artist depending on how these factors play out.
Procreate layer limits are determined by the size of your Procreate canvas, the DPI of your Procreate canvas, and the amount of RAM your iPad has. It’s also important to know that Procreate doesn’t have access to all of your iPad’s RAM, but Procreate often releases updates to address this.
The type of iPad you have can make a big difference in how many layers you can use.
Fun fact: buying a new iPad right when it’s released isn’t always a good idea from a Procreate standpoint – we’ll talk about why! We’ll also talk about the types of iPads you may want to consider to optimize your Procreate layers.
To begin with though, let’s talk about why Procreate layer limits exist and how Procreate layer limits are determined in the first place.
Why Does Procreate Have Layer Limits
Procreate has layer limits because it needs to accommodate the amount of RAM available to it from the iPad. Procreate cannot allow for an infinite amount of layers while still functioning at the level required for the app to run well.
There are actually three factors that determine Procreate’s layer limit within your iPad. Let’s talk about these so you know what to expect when you create your next Procreate canvas.
The Three Factors Impacting Procreate’s Layer Limit
Like I said, Procreate layer limits are determined by three factors. If you change any of these things, you’ll notice a change in the number of layers you have available to you.
These are the basic factors you need to understand in order to demystify why your layer limit is what it is for different Procreate canvases.
Let’s break them down, one by one.
Your Procreate canvas size
The larger your Procreate canvas, the fewer number of layers you’ll have access to. Here are the maximum canvas sizes for a few iPad models:
- iPad Pro 12.9″, 11″, and 10.5″; iPad Air 4 – 16,384 x 4,096, or 8,192 x 8,192
- iPad Pro 9.7″, iPad (6th generation) and iPad (7th generation) – 8,192 x 4,096, or 16,384 x 2,048
- iPad (8th generation) – 7327 x 7327
- iPad (5th generation), iPad Air 2, iPad Air 3, iPad mini 4, and iPad mini 5 – 8,192 x 4,096
- iPad Air 1 – 4,096 x 4,096
When you are using the max canvas size, or anything close to it, you may only have 1 or 2 layers available to you.
The more you decrease your canvas size, the more you’ll notice an increase in your layer limit.
The DPI of your Procreate canvas
DPI stands for dots per inch. As the name implies, DPI refers to the number of ink dots within each inch of your piece of art.
The higher your DPI, the more ink dots you’ll have in each inch of your art. The lower your DPI, the fewer ink dots you’ll have.
If you plan to print your art, you want to aim for a DPI around 300. Going a lot lower than that may leave you with grainy and blurry results.
Don’t overdo it though. Going over 300 DPI won’t improve your art quality all that much, but it will balloon your file size and decrease your layer limit.
I have a full guide about DPI you can read if you want to learn more.
The amount of RAM on your iPad
When talking about Procreate’s layer limit, it’s important to differentiate RAM from storage. RAM is the amount of memory that your iPad has, while storage is the amount of files, apps, and digital “stuff” it can hold.
Your iPad storage will impact the amount of art you can have in your Procreate app. I have a full guide about Procreate and iPad storage you can read to learn more about this.
RAM, your iPad’s memory, is what we need to worry about when thinking about your Procreate layer limits.
Now, this isn’t a cut and dry thing. It’s not as simple as looking at the amount of RAM your iPad has and calling it a day. It really depends on the type of iPad you have. Here’s why.
Procreate Doesn’t Have Access to All of Your iPad’s RAM
The Procreate app doesn’t always have access to all of the RAM that your iPad has. Because of that, your Procreate layer limit isn’t determined by your iPad’s RAM. Instead, it’s determined by the amount of RAM that your iPad has access to, which can vary between iPad models.
As a third party developer, Procreate is only given a certain amount of RAM they can use for the purposes of their app. This can make things confusing because there can be iPad models with higher amounts of RAM that give Procreate access to the same amount of RAM as iPads with lower total amounts of RAM.
Basically, you can’t always guarantee that you’ll have access to more layers by buying an iPad with more RAM.
Luckily, this situation is constantly changing. Procreate does the best it can to release updates that utilize more of an iPad’s RAM in order to increase layer limits.
That said, some of these updates take time. That’s why, if you’re trying to increase your layer limit, you may want to wait to buy the newest iPad models as soon as they come out. Let’s talk about why.
Why Buying the Newest iPad Model Won’t Immediately Increase Your Procreate Layer Limit
When an iPad is first released, the Procreate app doesn’t automatically recognize it and adapt to the amount of RAM it has. Until the developers at Procreate can release an update for that new iPad model, the RAM will be capped at 2GB.
This can be really frustrating for Procreate users, especially those who buy new iPad models in the hopes of increasing their RAM and, by consequence, their layer limit in Procreate.
Instead of an increase, you may be surprised to find that the RAM that Procreate has access to is the same, or even less, than your old iPad had.
Don’t worry though – it’s not a permanent problem.
When a new iPad model is first released, the developers at Procreate have to update the app to accommodate it. It’s not an automatic process. It’s also not universal across iPads, which means that every new iPad model needs to be individually tested.
There’s also another catch.
When a new iPad model is released, Procreate developers don’t know how much RAM that this new operating system will give them access to (source). Apple gets to decide how much RAM third party apps get.
The only way for Procreate developers to figure out how much RAM they have access to for a new iPad model and then give Procreate users access to it is to test the iPad and see how much RAM they can squeeze out of it.
And squeeze they do! The developers at procreate are great. They do their best to get as much RAM as possible for any given iPad model (remember that they’re all different).
They even do the best they can to increase RAM overtime for older iPad models. After an update, always look at your layer limits to see if you have the nice surprise of an increased layer limit.
Updates take time though. When a new iPad model comes out, the developers at Procreate manually test it to figure out how much RAM can be used.
Until the developers have time to test the new iPad model and release an update for it, the amount of available RAM used for Procreate is capped at 2GB. Again, this might be more, less, or the same as what your old iPad had, which will have relative impacts on the amount of layers that are available to you.
Eventually, Procreate will release an update that gives the newer iPad model as much RAM as possible but, until then, you’ll have 2GB determining your layer limit.
If you are buying a new iPad for the purpose of increasing your Procreate layer limit due to an increase in your Procreate’s RAM, you may want to wait until Procreate releases an update maximizing the RAM available to the app.
Pay attention to the features included with every Procreate update to see if an increase in RAM is included for certain Procreate models.
Procreate’s Twitter page is also a great place to stay up to date on the happenings at Procreate that could impact your available RAM and layer limit.
There are SO many perks to buying the newest model of an iPad. Personally, they’re hard to resist! Instantly increasing your layer limit may not be a huge deal given all of the other improvements and benefits you get.
If you buy a new iPad as soon as it’s released, just don’t be surprised if you notice that your Procreate layer limit isn’t as great as you expected it to be.
How to Check Your Layer Limit in Procreate
To check your layer limit for a piece of art in Procreate, click on the Canvas button within the Actions tab. Next, click on the Canvas Information button and click on the Layers tab within the menu that pops. This will tell you how many layers you’ve used and how many you have available.
It’s best to know your layer limit when you’re creating your Procreate canvas. That way, you can keep your layer limit in mind as you work and not suddenly be surprised by running out of layers.
That said, if you need a refresher on how many layers you have, you can check it easily. Here’s a step-by-step guide on checking your layer limit.
1. Click on the Actions tab in the top menu. It’s the one that has a wrench for an icon.
2. Click on the Canvas button.
3. Within the Canvas options, click on the Canvas Information button.
4. Within the Canvas Information options, click on the Layers tab.
Within this Layers tab, you’ll be able to see how many layers you’ve used, how many layers you have available to you, and whether you have certain settings applied to your layers.
Alright, so let’s finish this article with the question that everyone wants the answer to.
How Do I Increase My Layer Limit in Procreate?
To increase your layer limit in Procreate, make your canvas and DPI as small as possible lower for the art piece. While your iPad’s RAM also impacts your layer limit, this factor is not in your control, so adjusting your canvas size and DPI is the best strategy for increasing your layer limit.
Of course, you can buy a different iPad model to increase your RAM. That’s not always practical though. If you’re trying to increase your layer limit on an iPad you already have, adjusting your canvas size and DPI is your best bet.
The goal is to create the smallest canvas you can with the lowest DPI possible.
This does NOT mean jeopardizing the quality of your art. If you plan to print your art, you need to have a DPI around 300. If you choose a DPI of 80 just so you can have more layers, you’ll be disappointed when you print your art and it looks bad.
Those extra layers aren’t worth it if your final product can’t be used as intended.
So, lower your canvas size and DPI to a level that works for your art project. This requires some planning ahead. Before getting started with your work, think about how you plan to use it and what canvas size and DPI you need as a result.
Procreate layer limits can be frustrating. But, if you learn how to master them, you’ll get into a nice rhythm with using them that you won’t even have to think twice about after awhile.
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.