This tutorial will introduce you to the basics of Procreate, which can be a great professional tool for you as it is for me. Procreate has quickly become my go-to digital painting app, and I do most of my work in this app.
In this tutorial, I’ll be using an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil and Procreate 4. I’ll also guide you through my painting techniques and the process of developing a masculine portrait.
1. How to Make a Sketch
First, open the Procreate application. Tap the (+) icon in the top right corner to create a New Canvas. Tap to Create Custom Size and create a 3500 x 4000 px canvas size, RGB, 300 DPIresolution.
I start the process by gathering the reference materials for my masculine punk character, collecting images with some attributes inherent to this style.
I create my sketch directly in Procreate using my Apple Pencil. Procreate has a great selection of sketching brushes, which you can find in the Sketching set. Any brush from this set will be suitable for sketching. My favorite is the 6B Pencilbrush.
Let’s modify this brush a little bit to get more flexibility in the sketching process. Tap the 6B Pencil icon, and the Settings of the tool will appear. Choose the General settings and change the Size Limits to ~30% Max.
We already have two layers by default: one layer with the background color and one empty layer. It’s best to start with a simple white canvas, without any gradients or colours, so we’re keeping the background color white.
Open the Layers panel, tap “Layer 2”, and rename it “sketch”. Choose any color you like from the Color menu in the top right corner.
The references are collected and the brush and color are selected, so now it’s time to create the sketch!
Start with the basic shapes, keeping the image simple and not going into too much detail. Then build up your rough sketch into something more refined, adding more details to give them a bit more character.
You can rotate the canvas in the process for convenience. Just use two fingers and rotate your image or size it.
Also, you can change the Size and Opacity of any Brush tool by moving the sliders on the left side of the screen up and down.
2. How to Create the Line Art
First, open the Layers menu, tap N on the “sketch” layer, and lower the Opacity to about 30%.
Then create a New Layer for your line art on top of the “sketch” layer.
Let’s create a New Ink Brushfor our line work.
First, choose the Inking set, and tap the + icon in the top-right corner of the brush list to create your New Brush. The menu with sources will appear.
For the Shape, tap Swap from Pro Library and choose Ink 2. For the Grain, tap Swap from Pro Library and choose the Recycled Paper texture.
Rename it “New ink brush”, and use the brush settings shown below.
Let’s make a few trial lines with our new brush, so we can sense the lines. The thickness of the line depends on how hard you press with the pencil.
Then tap on the “lines” layer and select Clear from the drop-down list to delete your trial lines. Now we can start our line art on the clean layer.
We’re ready to start creating our line art.
First, let’s pick the color for the lines.Choose a deep blue-gray color from the Colors menu, avoiding black for a softer look.
The most convenient method during the work process is to mirror your image. It will allow you to control the proportions and have more flexibility in the drawing process. Also, it helps you to take a fresh look at your work, so you can correct any early mistakes.
Just go to Actions > Canvas > Flip canvas horizontally as shown below.
Set the brush Size to about 5-10%with 100%Opacity.
Start by drawing the face with smooth lines on top of your sketch. Create a variance of line weight, making transitions from thin to thick and imitating traditional ink. It will give more life to your drawing.
If you feel the lines are thicker or thinner than you would like them, you can always change their Weightby moving the Brush Size slider on the left side of the screen up or down.
Now let’s draw the outfit: jacket, t-shirt, and rock collar.
Don’t think about any details on this stage—just draw the main objects of your character’s outfit.
Let’s add some necessary details to the outfit.
Draw one rivet on the jacket’s collar first. Take the Selection tool, and make sure it’s on Freehand. Select the area of the rivet. Then tap Transform, which is next in the top panel. Swipe down with three fingers, and the menu will appear. Choose Copy + Paste and you’ll get this rivet on a new layer. Move it down and place it on another part of the collar.
Create more rivets using the same principle.
As a result, we’ll get them as inserted images on the new layers. Merge these layers into one. Just tap on the top layer and choose Merge Down from the drop-down list. Or you can take the two layers (one finger on one, and one finger on the other) and squeeze them together.
Finish the decoration of the jacket by adding more rivets, buttons, pins, and badges.
I noticed that the rock collar is too low on the neck. But we can fix it easily.
Tap the Selection tool, and draw a shape on the area of the collar. Then tap Transform, so you can move this object up a little. Use the Eraser to clean the rock collar a little bit, and finish this by drawing some missing lines.
In the end, decorate the t-shirt with a skull drawing.
Now let’s draw the hairstyle. Create the solid shapes first, making just the main lines. Then add some details made of very thin lines.
At once, use the same brush to add some volume and deep contrast shadows to the hairstyle.
Make the “sketch” layer invisible and admire the result of the line art.
3. How to Create the Main Shapes
Let’s start by filling the background with some basic color.
Pick the Charcoal Block brush from the Charcoals set, and modify it by changing the Size Limit toabout 160%.
Now create a New Layer under the “lines” layer.
Choose pink, and draw the main shape of the background pattern following the sketch. We can change this color as necessary later.
We can keep all the colors that we will pick up in the process by creating a Paletteof basic colors.
We have the Colors menu in the top right corner, where we can select the color.
Click on the + icon to Create a New Palette, and a new area with empty boxes for our new palette will appear. Rename it “Punk-rock”.
Let’s add the pink from the background first. Pick the color and tap on any of the empty boxes, and it saves it.
Further fill these boxes with selected colors to create your own palette.
Create a New Layer and pick a beige color for the skin tone.
Now let’s find a suitable brush for the painting. My favorite is the Soft Pastelbrush from the Sketching set.
Use the Max Size of the brush and fill the face and neck with color. Clean the area around the body using the Eraser Tool. Choose the Soft Pastel brush as an eraser as well.
Add this skin tone color to your Palette.
Now let’s find another cool brush for the jacket.
Go to Brushes > Painting > Nikko Rull, and change the Size Limit to about 470%.
Set the brush Size to about 70%with 100%Opacity. Pick a dark violet color and draw large strokes to cover the whole area of the jacket shape. Add this color to your Palette.
Now we need to clean the area outside of the lines. We can use the Eraser Tool, as we did before. But in this case I find the Selection Tool is a more convenient method.
Tap the Selection Tool and draw a shape on the area you need to delete. Then tap Transform, swipe down with three fingers, and the menu will appear. Choose Cut, and you’ll get an absolutely clean area.
In the end, refine the edges using the Eraser Tool.
Create new layers for each group of objects, and fill them with colors using the Soft Pastel brush.
Organize the layers as shown in the screenshot below.
Let’s set the background color by tapping the “Background color” layer, which we already have by default. Select a dark blue color on the Colormenu.
Now we need to change the color of our background shape and make it more saturated. It allows us to create a good range of contrast and make the character more expressive.
First select the layer, and then tap the Adjustments icon and choose Hue, Saturation,Brightness from the drop-down list. Move the sliders until you get the desired result.
4. How to Add Shadows and Highlights
Let’s start by adding some volume to the face.
Tap on the “skin” layer and select Alpha Lock from the drop-down list. It will help us to paint inside the body shape without crossing this area.
Now select a peach color and choose the Soft Pastelbrush from the Sketching set. I like using this brush because of the softness and texture, and it also makes the painting look more realistic.
Start building the basic shapes of the face and neck with very large brush strokes and defining the character’s facial features.
Then create some subtle shadows using a light brown color to show the volume more clearly. You can vary the brush Size in the process as you like.
This way, add some basic shadows by making strokes on the shadowy area. Use the Bordeaux color for them.
Then add a little contrast to the face. Choose the dark blue-grey color and add some deeper shadows to the eyes, nose, ear, neck, and hair growth line.
Create a New Layer for the highlights on top of the “skin” layer.
Select a lighter cold tint starting from the base skin color, and paint some highlight strokes using the same Soft Pastel brush. Reduce the Opacity of the layer to about 65%.
Once we’re happy with the highlights, we can merge these layers with highlights and skin into one “skin” layer. Tap on the top layer with highlights and choose Merge Down from the drop-down list.
Let’s refine the skin a little bit, correcting the roughness of the skin and improving the shape of his face and neck. Also add some volume to the eyes and lips.
Use the Color Picker Button to select the color you need. You can find this button between the Sizeand Opacity sliders.
Once we’re happy with the volume of the face, let’s add some colors to make the skin more natural and bring some life to it.
Create a New Layer on top of the “skin”, and rename it “color zone”.
First select the “skin” layer. Just tap on the layer and choose Select from the drop-down list. It will allow us to draw on the “color zone” layer just inside the body shape.
Now we need to add some variation in color to the face: yellow tones to the forehead and neck, reddish tones to the cheeks, nose and ear, and blue tones underneath the eyes and around the chin.
Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Multiply. Reduce the Opacity to about20%. You can play around with the Opacity until you’re happy with how it looks.
Create a New Layer for the bristle on top of the “color zone” layer.
Keeping the “skin” layer selected, draw large brush strokes on the head and chin. Use the same Soft Pastel brush and a deep blue color. Refine the edges using the Eraser Tool.
In the end, change the Blending Mode to Hard Light to add saturated colors and darken areas simultaneously.
Let’s add some freckles to make the skin more natural.
Create a New Layer on top of the “skin”, and rename it “freckles”. Choose the Flicks brush from the Spraypaints set and pick the Bordeaux color.
Apply Select to the “skin” layer. Using the middle size of the brush, draw some strokes, spraying tiny spots on the skin area. Change the Blending Mode to Color Burn and reduce the Opacity to about 20%.
Using the same color and the Soft Pastel brush, add some freckles and moles randomly to the nose, cheeks, and neck. Vary the brush Size around 5–15% in the process.
In the end, let’s draw some falling shadows from the hair.
Create a New Layer for themon top of the “skin”. Add some dark blue shadows to the forehead under the fringe and to the face under the beard.
5. How to Create a Vibrant Hairstyle
Let’s start forming the hairstyle.
First, lock the “hair” layer by activating Alpha Lock.
Use the Soft Pastel brush to add some large green and pink shapes to the hairstyle.
Draw some deep blue strokes on the roots of the hair and on the shadowy area of the locks.
Then use a very saturated green colour and mix it with the pink and blue, creating some interesting effects.
We don’t paint every strand individually at this stage, but cluster and form groups.
Now eye-drop the colors from the skin to the very roots of the hair, and make some smooth color transitions from the skin to the hair.
Then create some volume by adding some saturated blue color.
Use the same Soft Pastel brush and yellow color to add some bright spots to the green part of the hairstyle. Then draw some gentle aquamarine strokes, styling separate locks. And don’t forget about the beard! Use blue and purple tints for it.
Turn off Alpha Lockon the “hair” layer.
Use the blue, pink and yellow colors to draw some short, bright strokes, imitating shaved hair. Also refine the hair’s roots a little bit using the Eraser Tool.
Now we need to make a shadow for the outer edges of the hairstyle. Take the Selection Tool, and select the area of the hairstyle you want to make a little darker.
Then tap Transform, swipe down with three fingers, and the menu will appear. Choose Copy + Paste, and you’ll get this shape on a new layer.
Tap the Adjustments icon and choose Hue,Saturation,Brightnessfrom the drop-down list. Move the sliders to the left until you get the desired result.
In the end, make the edges softer using the Eraser Tool.
Let’s make the middle part of the hairstyle a little brighter.
Select the area using the Selection Tool, tap Transform, and Copy + Paste this shape to a new layer.
Go to Adjustments>Hue,Saturation,Brightness, andmove the Saturation and Brightness sliders a little bit to the right.
Once we’re happy with the result, we can merge these layers.
Let’s add some single strands of hair for an element of realism.
Create a New Layer for the tiny details on top of the “lines” first. Then pick the 6B Pencil, and draw separate thin hairs using adjacent colors.
In the end, add some gloss to these hairs.
6. How to Add Volume and Texture to the Outfit
Let’s start on the t-shirt.
First, lock in the “t-shirt” layer by activating Alpha Lock.
Take the Selection tool, and select the lightest area of the t-shirt. Use a big size of the Soft Pastel brush and some bluish tints to add large shapes of the highlights.
Make the edges of the highlight’s shape softer using the Eraser Tool. Also draw some dark shadows and bright highlights, using the deep blue and soft blue-grey colors respectively. Play around with the Opacity where possible.
Now let’s distress this punk t-shirt by adding holes.
Turn off Alpha Lockon the layer first.
Then use the Eraser Tool to make some holes in the fabric. Decorate them with tiny threads. In the end, make this t-shirt a little bit more shabby by adding some scratches to the fabric.
Now we’ll draw the skull print on the t-shirt.
Lock the “skull” layer by activating Alpha Lock.
Using the Nikko Rull brush, add some blue and green textured strokes to the skull. Then, using the basic color from the jacket, add some falling shadows from the collar on both sides of the t-shirt.
Lower the intensity of the pattern by reducing the Opacity of the layer to 75%.
It’s time to add some volume to the jacket. Activate the Alpha Lockon this layer as we did before.
We’ll use the Selection Tool as a more convenient method to add shadows and highlights to the certain areas. Tap the + or –symbols on the bottom toolbar to add the selected areas to each other, or subtract them accordingly.
Choose the color from the outlines and the Soft Pastel brush to add some shadows to the jacket. Then use the Color Picker tool to make some smooth transitions from the shadows on the base of the jacket.
Now let’s add a leather texture to the jacket.
First, apply Select to the “jacket” layer, and create a New Layer for the texture on top of it.
Choose a new Old Skinbrush from the Touchupsset.
Set the BrushSize to 100%, pick the color from the lines, and cover the whole surface of the jacket with the texture. Just drive the brush back and forth across the area without lifting the stylus off the surface.
Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Multiply, and drop the Opacity to 70%.
Create a New Layer again for the highlight texture. Keep the “jacket” layer selected. Pick a pale lilac-blue color, and add some highlights using the same Old Skinbrush.
Create a New Layer for the highlights.
Pick the Soft Pastel brush again, and draw some bright highlights using the same pale lilac-blue color. Change the Brush Size in the process. Add some large strokes and tiny details to get an imitation of leather.
Reduce the Opacity of the layer to about 75%.
Let’s add some necessary details.
First, create a New Layer for reflections. Now eye-drop the colors from the skin and t-shirt and draw some shapes of reflections, mostly along the inner parts of the collar. Use the Soft Pastel brush with 60% Opacity.
Also, add some soft atmospheric pink light from the background to the outer edge of the jacket.
Create a New Layer again for the glare.
Draw some bright highlights and gloss using a pale grey color. It’s a very easy way to get the effect of shining leather.
In the end, add some scratches to the jacket’s surface.
For a convenient work process, let’s create a Layers Folder or Group with all the jacket layers.
Drag these layers from left to right to select them. Then tap the lines in the top right, and you’ll get a New Group. Rename it “jacket”.
You can open or close this folder—just tap the little arrow in front of the group name.
Let’s move to the silver earrings and rivets.
Apply Alpha Lock to the “accessories” layer. Use dark purple-blue tints to draw the shadows and lilac-blue color for the highlights. Also add some metal gloss to these details.
In the end, add some reflections from the nearby objects such as the skin, hair, and background.
This way, we’ll add some volume to the last earring and the badges. Don’t be afraid to use bold colors for the highlights and reflections.
Let’s refine the whole image a little bit. Add more pink backlight to the edges of the collar and the hairstyle to fit your character into the background better.
And here’s what we’ve got!
7. How to Create an Abstract Background
We already have the basic dark purple color on our default background layer. Let’s make it a little bit darker.
Then reduce the Opacity of the “background” layer to about 40%. It will serve as a substrate in adding some texture to the background.
Let’s add some texture and a pattern to give your image more of a grunge style.
Create a New Layer on top of “background”, and rename it “texture”.
Pick a new brush, Rad, from the Retro set and the same saturated pink color to add a pattern to the background. Feel free to place them in whatever manner you find best.
Reduce the Opacity of the layer to about 75%.
This way, add some blue spots on the New Layeras well.
I like this punk-rock style so much!
It was a time-consuming process, but at the same time, it’s very interesting.
Thank you for creating and experimenting with me. Enjoy and share your result!
Want more tutorials on learning Procreate? Why not check out these: