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How to Use Procreate with Photoshop

By Marco Cheatham

Separately, Photoshop and Procreate are powerful tools...but together they become a platform for portable, powerful design creation

Are you looking for a portable design solution? We've been working in Procreate for some time, and it has constantly proven to be a powerful platform for illustration and animation. With a seamless pipeline to Photoshop, we think this might be the killer app you need to take your MoGraph to go.
Today, I’m going to show you just how easy it is to start your process in Procreate, ways Procreate has made designing easier, and the benefits and ways it can sync with Adobe programs. To take full advantage, you’ll need an iPad with the Procreate app, an Apple Pencil, and Adobe Photoshop!
In this video, you’ll learn to:
  • Utilize some of Procreate’s Benefits
  • Sketch easily and block in color
  • Bring photoshop brushes into the Procreate app
  • Save your files as psd’s
  • and add finishing touches in Photoshop

Grab the Project Files to Follow Along

Before we begin, make sure you download the project files in the link below so you can follow along!

Download these free reference files to follow along!

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How to Use Procreate with Photoshop

What exactly is Procreate?

Procreate is a portable design application. It has everything you need to sketch, paint, illustrate, and animate. Procreate is the complete art studio you can take anywhere, packed with unique features and intuitive creative tools.
And it’s super affordable at $9.99
For me, Procreate is a great place to begin my ideas. I can easily sketch using the intuitive interface, build up to a more polished design, and export to Photoshop if I want to apply any finishing touches.

Why Use Procreate as a Motion Designer?

Procreate is perfect for handling quick sketches, but it's robust enough to manage completed style frames. In their new update, the program can even handle light animation. For something that costs as much as a few cups of a coffee or a new skin in Fortnite, I'm able to do 50-60% of the work on my projects.
Nowadays, most of my work starts with a sketch in Procreate...and I'm not the only one. Here are a few examples of other professional artists using procreate to illustrate.
Art by Paulina Klime
Or this great animated jellyfish.
Animation by Alex Kunchevsky
What makes Procreate such a great program is how much it feels like drawing on paper. If you're not ready to splurge on a high-end tablet such as a Cintiq, an iPad and Procreate can accomplish almost everything you'd want to do.
Using the Apple Pencil is incredibly intuitive; it feels just like drawing, but more forgiving! I love that I can take my iPad anywhere: the couch, a coffee shop, a deep sea submersible. It’s super portable.
Now, that I’ve convinced you to give Apple more money, let’s actually get into the program and see how you can aid in your creative process.

Sketching and Illustrating in Procreate

Let's get started so you can see how I use Procreate in my workflow. One of the first things I like to do is set up my brushes. Now, if you're importing brushes or creating your own (more on that later), you might notice that the pressure sensitivity feels off. You have to press REALLY hard to get anything.
Here's how to fix that:
Click on the wrench icon, select preferences (pref) and click Edit Pressure Curve.

Adding Photoshop Brushes to Procreate

Procreate brushes are great, but adding .ABRs brings textures to a new level. If you've already made a pack of your personal favorites, it just makes sense to use them in both programs. This will also help when you're working with a team or preparing files for other clients, especially when you’re working with a team that’s primarily using Photoshop.
Here's how to upload your brushes in Procreate:
  • Load the brush folder onto your iPad
  • Open Procreate
  • Click the Brush icon, then hit the + button
  • Click Import, and upload brushes
If that seems really's because it is. Just another great thing about this application. It wants to be easy for you.

Go from Sketch to Illustration in Procreate

Of course, Procreate is a drawing application, so how well can it handle going from a sketch to a functional illustration? Let me show you.

Sketching in Procreate

Now that I have my brushes prepped, I quickly sketch out the design until I'm happy with the overall shape.
During this part of the process, I'm less concerned about straight lines and jagged edges. Once I've found my shape, then I start redesigning with an eye for composition.

Color Blocking in Procreate

Now that we're done refining our sketch, we want to do some color blocking. First, draw a circle.
Now drag a color from the Color Circle in the top right into the center of your circle, which will fill your shape. You can make another layer and convert that to a Clipping Mask so you can add texture and color to the circle in a non-destructive way.
The other option is to click on your original layer and select Alpha Lock, which allows to you color onto the shape without going outside the border, though this will permanently change that layer.

Coloring Sketches in Procreate

Before I start adding color, I want to make sure my sketch is detailed and refined. This part of the process can save future you time and stress, since all you'll need to worry about is coloring in the illustration. The more work you put into refining your sketch, the smoother things go in the next few steps.
It's important to have your colors in mind before you start adding anything in. I prefer to have a color palette built ahead of time. In Procreate, there are a number of prebuilt palettes available. You can also add in new ones just as you did with brushes, or create a custom palette all your own.
Make sure your sketch or outline is the top layer, otherwise you'll color over the lines and risk getting lost. By tracing your sketch and creating closed shapes, you can easily drag in colors from your palette (as we did with the circle above) and quickly fill in each area.

Moving Your Artwork from Procreate to Adobe

If Procreate is so great, why do you even need to export over to Photoshop? Well, even with all its advanced features, there are still a few tricks that Photoshop has over the mobile app. You also have to factor in your personal preferences for applying polish, and the overall goals of your project.
To transfer, simply go to your settings (the wrench), click on Share, and select your file type.
Then select where you would like to save or send this file.
Now I can open the .PSD file in Photoshop and finish with textures and embellishments! If you want to see what I do, click on the video above.

Now you're a pro at creating!

That’s it! Procreate is a pretty simple yet powerful tool! I love that it’s inexpensive, easy to work with, and can scale so quickly for larger projects that may need the classic Adobe programs. If you grabbed a little inspiration and want to try it out, be sure to share your finished products with the hashtag #SOMawesomeProcreations!
If you want to unlock more advanced skills with Adobe’s core programs, check our Photoshop and Illustrator Unleashed! Almost every Motion Graphics project out there passes through these programs in one way or another.
This course makes learning Photoshop and Illustrator easy and fun. Starting on the very first day, you’ll create art based on real world jobs and get tons of experience working with the same tools that professional Motion Designers use everyday.