Hey all you faithful Webcomic Alliance readers out there…
So this past Christmas, I must have been a very, very good artist because Santa brought me a brand new iPad Pro and a bright, shiny Apple Pencil. The truth of the matter is, in terms of creative productivity, I needed a new iPad as my first generation iPad – yes, I said “first generation iPad”… quite laughing – was showing its age and becoming almost useless for anything truly productive.
Before I got the iPad Pro though, I had already been reading up on it and checking out several videos online. Through the course of all of that reading, I came across a wide variety of recommended drawing apps for the iPad Pro and I downloaded many of them and gave them all a good test drive but one of the apps that I ended up really taking a liking to the best was Procreate. Now, this isn;t going to be an article about what is the best drawing app out there. I’m just saying of all the ones that I have tried so far, I really have come to dig Procreate. If you have a favorite drawing app, please let me know in the comments. If I don’t already have it, I’ll take a look and check out.
But for those of you that might already have Procreate – or are thinking about purchasing it – maybe this article will give you a nice intro. I should also give a big shout out to my friend and former Pick of the Month, Bill McKay who showed me many of the same features I’m going to be showing you in this article. Bill and I brought our iPad Pros to a one day show where we compared notes on how we each use different drawing programs on out iPads during dinner that night. It was a great collaborative experience.
So first, here is my iPad Pro and Apple pencil (as with all of these pictures, click on them for a much larger view):
And here is the Apple Pencil and the packaging it comes in:
The packaging from top to bottom consists of:
1) The out case
2) The interior case – which includes a recharging end piece and an extra pencil tip (as well as the pencil, of course)
3) The case that holds the in instructions
4) The instructions
The instructions shows you how to recharge the pencil, how long it takes to recharge, how to replace the pencil tip and other useful information like that. The end part of the pencil that looks like a white plastic eraser is actually a small, magnetic cover and that is how you recharge the pencil. Here are two pictures of the pencil – with a close-up of the end tip removed:
To recharge the pencil, you can either connect it to the recharging device that’s in the packaging above or connect it to the iPad itself, like so:
When the battery in the pencil gets low, a pop-up message will appear on your iPad screen letting you know the pencil’s battery percentage with a warning that it needs to be recharged. According to the Pencil instructions, hooking it up to the iPad for 15 seconds will recharge for approximately 30 minutes. This far, I have always left the pencil in my iPad for 2-3 minutes and have gotten hours of work from it after those 2-3 minutes.
So that is the iPad pro in a nutshell. Now on to Procreate…
According to the iTunes store, the Procreate app costs $5.99 but it is well worth the $6 price tag. If you have people who give you a lot of iTune gift cards for your birthday or other events like I do, it is well worth using part of your gift card on this app. After downloading the app, the first thing I would recommend is downloading the User Guide PDF. It is extremely easy to follow and understand but very important to have because you’ll need to learn how to use various finger gestures on your screen to learn how to turn and enlarge the canvass as well as learning how to delete or undo any mistakes you might make.
One thing I did when I was first learning Procreate was that I downloaded the User Guide PDF and had it opened in the background while I worked in the program. If I ever ran into a problem, I could bring the user Guide to the front, read what I needed to do then send it back to the background and bring Procreate back to the front. With the split screen ability in the iPad pro (more on that later), you could also split the screen with the opened PDF and then close it once you’re done. Both options will work just fine.
The Procreate Gallery
This is the first screen you’ll see when you open Procreate. It displays all of your saved projects. And even though I haven’t done so yet, you can make folders inside your gallery as well. To create a new project, you click the + button in the far right corner and then set up your project’s dimensions.
A menu appears where you can manually type in the pixel height and width dimensions of your new canvass. once you type in the dimensions and hit “create”, the Procreate canvass interface will appear. here is a breakdown of that interface:
- The Gallery section – each icon has different functions from transparency to exporting and saving a project.
- The top slider controls the thickness of your brush: down for small, up for large.
- The bottom slider controls the opacity of the brush.
- The actual canvas itself – you can see here that I have already drawn Roy in a moonlit background.
- You brushes. Procreate offers you a lot of brush options.
- Your eraser.
- Layers – the User Guide goes into great details about layers.
- The color wheel.
This is what the color wheel looks like:
It takes a little practice to get used to how the color wheel works but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. It took me a little while because I was so used to the box swatches that are so common in all the Adobe design programs like Photoshop, Illustrator and Fireworks.
When you are done with your project, you can do a lot of different things with it by using the Actions menu (the wrench icon next to “Gallery”:
One of the things you can do is share your project or upload it somewhere else. One of the coolest features of Procreate is that if you keep the settings like the image above, Procreate will record every single action you do on a project and will save it as a time lapsed video which you can easily share on Facebook, Twitter or whatever social media app you prefer. This is what the export options window looks like:
If you want to see the entire process of how I created my Roy illustration, you can do so by watching the video below. In fact, you can see all of the Procreate projects I have created so far by visiting my Youtube channel which you can find here: Chris Flick’s YouTube channel.
There isn’t any sound attached to these videos but if you have any video editing software, you can easily import the video into that program and add music to another track.
I hope this has been a helpful Procreate introduction for you. If you’re interested in learning more about how to create art using Procreate, really, the best thing you can do is download the program and give it a try. The User Guide is real easy to understand and you can skip over a lot of the User Guide content when you’re first learning the program – I did. I just paid attention to the parts that I knew I would need such as the important figure gestures I needed to know, how layers worked, how to color your line art and information on brush control.
I should mention that for all of the cartooning work that you see in my Procreate videos, for the majority of line work, I am using the Hard Airbrush setting and then I play around with the brush thickness. I also usually keep the opacity set to 100% for the brush as well.
It’s in the background areas where I experiment the most with various brush effects, colors, opacity and things like that. I encourage you all to do the same.
Chris Flick just figured out how to put his photo and bio information at the end of these Webcomic Alliance articles. When he’s not wracking his brain on how to do that, he’s busy being a full time web and graphic designer working in the Washington DC area. When he’s not doing that, he’s working on his Capes & Babes webcomic which he created back in 2007. When he’s not doing ANY of those things, he’s usually at a convention on the east coast of the United States.
Chris just recently published his 1,000th Capes & Babes strips. You can read them all by going to his website, Capes & Babes. You can also visit his woefully outdated portfolio web site at CSF Graphics. And if you’re interested in seeing some of the wild Minion Mash-ups Chris has become known for, you should visit his Pinterest Minion Mash-Up Board. You can also find Chris on Facebook and Twitter by doing a search for “Capesnbabes”.