If you’re part of the lettering world you’ve probably seen videos of people creating amazing lettering pieces on their iPad. Using an iPad Pro, an Apple Pencil, and the Procreate app together is a very powerful combination. The best part is, Procreate is only $10 so if you already have an iPad and an Apple pencil this is not much of an investment!
When I started lettering I began on my iPad. You can see a list of my favorite Procreate brushes here! I started playing around with lettering brushes until eventually I got more comfortable and was able to create more complicated pieces.
I’d like to think that I have improved since then!
When you first open up procreate you’ll see a screen like this (although it will be empty). This is called the gallery and it’s where all your art goes. I like to organize my pieces into “stacks” which basically creates a folder of certain artwork. This helps me to stay organized and know where to look for a certain piece. When you click on a stack you’ll see a similar screen but this one will show you all the images in that stack.
The select button allows you to stack, share, duplicate, or delete, any artwork you choose.
If you choose import you can open up an image file or a procreate file directly into your gallery to work on. A lot of times, practice sheets or templates that people offer will be saved as procreate files. This is how you can open them to use them.
The photo button allows you to take a picture with your iPad. I haven’t found this option too useful but if you’re someone who wants to sketch something out on paper before doing it on your iPad, this would be a useful function.
Finally, the plus sign allows you to create a blank template. The program comes with a bunch of common sizes already included to choose from but you can also create your own custom size.
So, when you decide to create a custom size a screen like this will show up. You can choose your dimensions to be in millimeters, centimeters, inches, or pixels. I usually use pixels if it’s a design I want to put on multiple things. I’ll use inches when I’m planning on printing my artwork on a certain sized canvas. For example, I sell greeting cards. When I’m designing them I work in a canvas that is the same dimensions as the card I plan on printing on. This way I know exactly what my image will look like on the card when I print it out.
I suggest keeping your DPI at 300 especially if you plan on printing your design out on a larger surface. Finally, make sure you pay attention to how many layers you have. The larger your canvas is the less available layers you can work on.
Working in Your Procreate Canvas
So now that you know how to create a canvas let’s talk about using the tools in the canvas!
This is what a canvas looks like when you open it up in Procreate. On the left, there are two sliders. The top slider is the brush size. If you slide it up whatever brush you’re using will get bigger and vice versa. The slider on the bottom controls the opacity of your brush. If you want a more subtle effect you can turn the opacity down to add transparency to your brush strokes.
To open up your actions menu select the little wrench icon in the top left corner.
A lot of these actions can also be done from the gallery page or with gestures (which we’ll talk about later).
Insert a file: Like the on the previous screen this will allow you to open up any files that you may want to import. However, instead of opening them as a new canvas they’ll be placed directly into your current canvas as a new layer.
Insert a photo: This will allow you to import a photo saved to your iPad into your canvas.
Take a photo: This will let you take a photo directly from your iPad to place into your canvas.
Cut: This will cut your selection out of its current layer an can be pasted into a new layer.
Copy: This will copy your current selection while still leaving it in the same place. You can then paste this copy onto a new layer.
Copy Canvas: This will copy every visible layer as one flattened layer to be pasted somewhere else.
Paste: Will paste the last thing you saved to your clipboard.
This is not a menu that I use often but here you will find everything about the canvas you are working on.
Perspective Guide: I actually just discovered this feature but it seems really useful. Basically, if you turn it on and go to edit perspective guide, you can choose a “vanishing point”. Procreate will then give you gridlines that go to that vanishing point to help you work on a perspective piece.
Flip Canvas: This one is pretty self-explanatory but this will flip your canvas either horizontally or vertically to mirror its original position.
Canvas Info: This tells you everything you need to know about your canvas.
This allows you to choose what format you want to save/export your image as.
Light Interface: I almost always have this on because I think it makes it easier to see my work especially if I’m working on a transparent background. The app automatically installs with the light interface off, so this is where you can change it.
Right Hand Interface: I’m right handed so I don’t have this on but if you’re left-handed this is probably something you want to turn on. Turning it on will put the brush adjustments that are normally on the left hand on the screen on the right hand of the screen so that they’re easier to access while you’re drawing.
Brush Cursor: This decides whether or not you see a cursor when you’re drawing. I like to have this on because I find that it makes it easier to make smaller, more precise strokes.
Connect third-party stylus: If you don’t have an Apple Pencil but still want to draw with procreate, this is where you would connect a non-Apple stylus.
Edit Pressure Curve: If you find that your pressure-sensitive brushes are not transitioning as smoothly as you want you can go here to adjust your settings. I don’t fully understand this curve but most people suggest you just play around with it and see what works for you. I spent about 45 minutes trying to get it just right! If you have no idea where to start I would suggest making an S shape with the curve and going from there.
Gaussian BlurThis adds a blur to your layer as you slide your finger across the scene.
Hue, Saturation, & Brightness: This allows you to adjust the colors of your piece.
Color Balance: This also allows you to adjust the color but it’s more specific. You can choose to add or take away a certain color for the midtones, shadows, and highlights of your piece.
This is the curly S-shaped tool in the top left menu bar. I only every use freehand selection. This allows me to choose exactly what I want to select. After you make your selection you can click the mouse to move your selection. I usually keep it on magnetic so that it stays in line and proportional. You’ll also see other options pop up at the bottom. These options allow you to flip, rotate or expand your selection.
Here you can see all your brushes. Procreate comes with tons of brushes already installed but you can also install your own. I like to make a new folder for each set I download as well as a folder of all my favorite ones so I can access them easily.
To import new brushes click the + sign in the top right. You’ll be taken to to a new screen where you’ll see an import button in the top right. Hit this and you’ll be taken to your files. Select the brush you want to import. Note that you want to follow these steps from the folder you want them in. So, if you want them to be placed into a new folder make sure to create it before you start importing your brushes.
If you want my custom lettering brush for FREE, you can sign up to get it in the box below!
This is where you can control all your layers. If you slide a menu to the left you will be given options to lock, duplicate, or delete the layer. When you lock a layer you will not be able to draw outside the layer. This is really convenient if you are trying to color something in. However, adding blurs won’t work if your layer is locked. It will just blur the colors.
The little check box determines whether or not you can see a layer.
The N brings up loads of different visual options. You can play around with these and see if you like how they affect your piece. You can also control the opacity of the layer from this menu.
This is where you pick your brush color. I usually use the wheel because I think it’s the simplest. You can also create custom color palettes (You can see the last one I was using is at the bottom). This way you can easily choose the color you want within your color scheme.
There are loads of gestures that you can do to tell Procreate to do a certain action.
Two fingered tap: If you tap the screen with two fingers it will undo.
Three fingered tap: Redo.
Three finger swipe: If you swipe down with three fingers you will get copy and paste options.
Press and Hold Color: This will pick up the color and make it your new brush color.
Hold after making a stroke: This will create a perfectly straight line. If you tap the screen while your pen is still down it will automatically orient the line to be perfectly horizontal or vertical.
iPad Lettering Courses
Wanna get a jump on your iPad lettering? Check out these courses!
I haven’t personally taken this course but I have taken three other courses from Amanda Arneill and they’re nothing less than amazing. If your want a comprehensive class that teaches you the basics of iPad lettering as well as how to apply our skill this is an awesome place to start! Sign up here!
This is another course from Amanda which I have taken and it is incredible. This is definitely a more advanced course so you’ll need to know the basics of iPad Lettering if you really want to get the most out of this course. This course will really take your iPad lettering to the next level and I cannot recommend it enough!!! Sign up here!
If you have any other questions about iPad lettering or lettering in general feel free to reach out! 🙂