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 DPI resolution.
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 Pencil brush.
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
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.
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%.
create a New Layer for your line art on
top of the “sketch” layer.
a New Ink Brush for 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.
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 Weight by 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.
about any details on this stage—just draw the main objects of your character’s outfit.
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.
that the rock collar is too low on the neck. But we can fix it easily.
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
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
“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 to about 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 Palette of 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.
fill these boxes with selected colors to create your own palette.
a New Layer and
pick a beige color for the skin tone.
find a suitable brush for the
painting. My favorite is the Soft Pastel brush 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.
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.
the end, refine the edges using the Eraser
Create new layers for each
group of objects, and fill them with colors using the Soft
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 Color menu.
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 Pastel brush from the Sketching set. I like using
this brush because of the softness and texture, and it also makes the painting look
building the basic shapes of the face and neck with very large
brush strokes and defining the character’s facial features.
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.
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”
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 Size and 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
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
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 about 20%. 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.
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.
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
In the end, let’s draw some falling shadows
from the hair.
Create a New Layer for them on
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
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.
use a very saturated green colour and mix it with the pink and blue, creating
some interesting effects.
don’t paint every strand individually at this stage, but cluster and form
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.
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
And don’t forget about the beard! Use blue and purple tints for it.
Turn off Alpha Lock on the
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
the Adjustments icon and choose Hue, Saturation, Brightness from the drop-down list. Move the sliders to the left until you get the desired result.
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.
to Adjustments > Hue, Saturation, Brightness, and move
the Saturation and Brightness sliders a little bit to the right.
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”
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 Lock on the layer
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 Lock on this
layer as we did before.
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.
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 Skin brush from the Touchups set.
the Brush Size 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
Change the Blending Mode of this layer
to Multiply, and drop the Opacity to 70%.
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 Skin brush.
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
Reduce the Opacity of the layer to about 75%.
Let’s add some necessary details.
create a New Layer for
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
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.
convenient work process, let’s create a Layers
Folder or Group with
all the jacket layers.
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
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
Reduce the Opacity of
the layer to about 75%.
This way, add some
blue spots on the New Layer as well.
I like this punk-rock style so much!
was a time-consuming process, but at the same time, it’s very interesting.
you for creating and experimenting with me. Enjoy and share your result!
Want more tutorials on learning Procreate? Why not check out these: