A mysterious app with which you can supposedly do everything… sounds pretty vague, right? Last week I promoted my online Procreate course quite a lot. That always raises a lot of questions. Because… can you really “do everything” with it? What exactly does that entail? How can this app help me as an illustrator? And why do I prefer Procreate over other apps? In this blog I answer a few of your most frequently asked questions about how you can use the app – or rather, how I mainly use it myself (otherwise I could continue writing for another 3 years).

Digital is so different from analogue… how do you find your digital drawing style?

One important watercolor aspect that I miss in the digital world: the organic flow of watercolor colors when working ‘wet on wet’. Maybe that also plays a role in my tendency towards a different digital style. I thought it was really cool that Adobe Sketch had a special effect for this. Adobe Sketch was one of the first apps I used to draw on my iPad. I could really play for hours with this cool watercolor effect. It is not the real deal compared to the analog work, but I have not encountered it in any other app in this way. However, the rest of the app really isn’t the cats pyjama’s – the brushes are very limited, the functions arelimited and not very intuitive, and the lines are very chunky – so outside of this nice gimmick I would pretty much ignore the app altogether.

What you can do to simulate the watercolor effect in Procreate? Download custom brushes! Procreate already has some nice “paint-like” brushes, but there are plenty of artists who specially design their own brushes to recreate the watercolor effect as well as possible. Some are even free, otherwise you often only pay a small amount. Worth giving a shot!

How does Procreate compare to other apps, for example on my Android tablet?

Procreate is unfortunately only available for iOS systems – so, iPads. I understand that the question arises whether there are also comparable apps for other tablets. I only have experience with Adobe Sketch (linked to Photoshop), Adobe Draw (linked to Illustrator), and Adobe Fresco (an attempt to compete with Procreate). Spoiler alert; unfortunately they are all not nearly as good as Procreate. Which is strange in itself, because Adobe has an unparalleled reputation in terms of PC programs. I wanted to start here with an overview of all the advantages and disadvantages, but it became waaaay too long: I will write a separate blog about that one day.

Speaking of which: is Procreate a suitable replacement for Adobe Illustrator, or a Wacom Cintiq?

Okay, listen. I have no experience with a Wacom Cintiq – let me make that clear. What I do know is that with a Wacom you can also run Adobe programs, such as Adobe Illustrator. The unique and indispensable aspect of the latter is that you can make vector drawings this way. Procreate is pixel-based, so you don’t have infinite resolution. I often read that illustrators who have experience with both programs find Procreate to work more intuitively – probably because a Wacom Cintiq requires you to have all the knowledge of the Adobe programs first. I would also recommend a Wacom Cintiq especially for professional illustrators: it is really a lot more expensive than an iPad. Oh, and Procreate vs Adobe Illustrator? You can hardly compare that, because both programs have such a different approach. With Procreate, the drawing experience is almost “as usual,” with Adobe Illustrator it isn’t. But there, everything is vector and your options are even more elaborate.

Can you import photo’s in Procreate?

I used to think that as an illustrator you could draw anything by heart. As if you had some kind of permanent, comprehensive encyclopedia stuffed inside your brain. As it turns out, illustrators also have to look up a picture from time to time! We really are just like humans sometimes. In fact, we do it fairly often. Not to draw the picture exactly the way it is, but to form a good idea of what something looks like again. And then it is useful if you have your reference material directly at hand. With Procreate you can import, edit, crop, extract color, and even trace photos (and of course never pretend it’s your own artwork;). Or: draw straight on top of it. I did that with my Instagram profile picture, for example. Funny, right?

Describing the possibilities of Procreate in one blog is almost impossible. Nevertheless, I hope that I have already answered some of your questions. Are there any specific things you would like to know about how I use Procreate as an Illustrator? Let me know in the comments!

Ps. If you have become enthusiastic and want to get started with the program yourself: I teach a course in it! (What a coincidence!;) In English (or Dutch, if you prefer). I will teach you all the tricks of the program, whether you are an ultimate novice or have more experience. In addition, I will give you handy drawing tips and fun homework assignments that you can share with the group, so that you immediately meet a whole bunch of new Procreate buddies! More than 350 people have already taken the course – will you join the Procreate party this round?