This post will be longer than usual, so I recommend a comfortable seat and a cup of your favourite drink with you. If you’re a Procreate enthusiast or a newbie, this shouldn’t scare you anyway.
Don’t be intimidated by the length of this post; it will be easy to find the most important information just by scrolling through it and finding them again once you’re done reading. In less than 15 minutes you’ll have all the basics to start using Procreate 5.2!
In fact, there’s just a lot to talk about, but I tried to select and synthesize everything for you, to create a really comfortable guide to introduce this amazing Procreate update.
I’ll also share my personal experience with the platform and what’s Procreate in the first place.
Points we’re going to touch:
- What’s Procreate?
- What’s new in Procreate 5.2? – Features explained
- Pros and Cons
- Is Procreate worth it? – My experience
- Potential questions about 3D (and not only) you might have, answered directly by Procreate’s CEO and COO.
| What’s Procreate?
Procreate is the best digital art app in the market.
It’s available for iOS devices only but don’t worry dear Android users, there are plenty of alternatives for your operating system and some are also free!
It’s super intuitive and easy to learn thanks to its clear interface. I’ve used it for almost two years now, without consulting a single tutorial – probably because I’m too lazy and impatient for that. Nevertheless, our relationship is going really well, and I learned the main features pretty fast. (Honestly, I lied. I got some help from Google once or twice.. But not long tutorials, I swear!)
It’s super affordable.
You can find it in the App Store for only 9.99$, and it’s a one-time purchase. That’s really great because it means no subscriptions.
Please take in consideration that the price could change depending on the country you live in. For example, I bought it when I used to live in Italy, and I paid it something like 12/13,00€.
Why is it cool as f?
First released in March 2011, it has grown massively since then, always improving their app and adding cool features.
It comes up with a complete and exhaustive free-brushes library. You may not need to buy or download any other, because there are so many different brushes you could use only them!
Each of them simulates many different techniques and textures, such as painting brushes, ink brushes, pencils and many more. You can also edit them according to your preferences!
You can manage and create your own colour palettes.
And time-lapse recording!
And you can bring it wherever you want, since it’s not limited to a desktop, but it’s installed on your iPad!
You can basically do anything with it: artists use Procreate for painting, doodling, sketching, drawing comics, creating animations and things that probably I don’t even know. In short, a lot of things!
You can even use it on your iPhone! Even if it doesn’t seem so comfortable (at least to me, because I’m pretty sure I couldn’t see a thing since I zoom a lot even on my iPad, that is surely big enough) and Procreate Pocket (iPhone’s version of Procreate) has a few less features, lots of people on the web draw on their phones and create amazing looking artworks!
Total control on your artworks
Procreate is the perfect medium to create your art.
You have access to various features, colours and brushes; your art ends up to be super personalised. You can edit and regulate shapes, colors, add effects, blurs, lights and so many other things.. maybe I should think about making a huge guide on all of them (.. 😉 ).
| What’s new in Procreate 5.2?
Procreate’s new update, 5.2, was released just a month ago, and illustrators from all over the world are already in love with it.
Despite the many improvements, one new feature in particular is standing out, and honestly I perfectly get why.
This new update covered almost every function of Procreate. From color picking to brush history, lots of small refinements took place in this new version.
The main new features in Procreate 5.2 we are going to discuss about are:
- Stroke stabilisation;
- Page assist;
- PDF import;
- Recent brushes + brush size memory;
- New three languages;
- 3D model painting + AR view (last but not least, we’ll go damn deep in this).
This feature allows you to change and adjust your brush properties in order to create smoother, tapered and more personalised strokes in your illustrations. This can be applied on every brush in your library, simply going in “Brush studio” and then “Stabilisation”. Here you can find and manage our old Streamline friend as well as Stabilisation and Motion filtering. You can regulate these 3 characteristics as you prefer, to customize your brush strokes depending on your needs.
This update, besides the big 3D and AR features, offers many improvements in the user experience. Procreate wants to offer comfortable solutions for everyone, including artists with vision, motion or cognitive issues, for example. But also, they’re just a way to improve how people in general interact with the platform.
Accessibility, in 5.2, includes options such as:
MOTION FILTERING: This will help to basically control your shaky hands! It serves as a tool to correct eventual tremors in your lines and strokes.
SINGLE TOUCH GESTURES: What was before done with two fingers, can now be turned into a Single Touch. You’ll be now able to zoom in and out, or rotate your canvas using one finger only.
LARGER INTERFACE: You can now make your text and palettesbigger, if you need to!
COLOUR NAMES: No need to explain. Thanks to this, you can see from the palettes the exact names of the colours and shades you need. Using your Eyedropper you can also navigate in your illustration and see displayed the different colours you’re picking. This is particularly useful for colorblind people, so they can refer back to the colours they already used and rename the colours to their preferences.
FEEDBACK SOUNDS: We are already familiar with feedback sounds in our everyday lives: our phones are full of them, but for Procreate that’s a completely new thing! They’ll alert you of every action: if you click or slide, a sound feedback is going to confirm you actually made that action.
ONION SKINS IN ANIMATION: This update is so huge that it also has benefits for you animators! If red and green are not comfortable for you, you can customize onion skin colors to see more clearly.
Thanks to Page Assist, you’ll feel like navigating into your own sketchbook. You can easily consult more layers at once, switching between them as you were browsing into your notebook.
As Procreate’s website suggests, this feature is “perfect for creating storyboards, comics, or just for getting your ideas down as fast they flow”.
Importing a PDF file on Procreate is now finally possible!
If you have used Procreate for a while, you’ll surely know that before it wasn’t possible to import PDF files into Procreate. Usually people had to convert them into JPG or PNG in order to be capable of opening and editing the chosen file.
But finally they fixed this, so, yay!
Recent bushes + brush size memory
In your Brush Library you’ll be able to find “Recent”, a list that includes the last eight brushes you used in order. This is really useful if you use lots of different brushes at once and often tend to forget which one you were using last.
Also, you can pin your favourite ones, so you can always find them.
Brush size memory is another cool feature they implemented with this update. When illustrating, we use different brush sizes that often repeat themselves. When I ink, for example, I use exactly 3 brush sizes; but it was difficult to remember their precise size before.
Now, Procreate remembers them for you! All you have to do is save your favourite sizes and create your illustration without thinking about it anymore.
No need for further explanations. Procreate added 3 more languages, Thai, Polish and Hindi, to their app!
3D model painting + AR view
People got really excited by this feature in Procreate 5.2, can’t disagree with that honestly.
Procreate opened a new dimension, allowing basically anyone with an iPad to join the 3D world. This update offers to comfortably paint on 3D model surfaces with the precision of Apple Pencil and to bring your painted models to life thanks to Augmented Reality.
If you’re already familiar with Procreate, 3D Model Painting should be relatively easy and intuitive to you, since it allows you to apply most of the usual 2D features and gestures to 3D models. That’s crazy, right?
But how to use 3D Model Painting? How to create an AR version of our drawing? Let’s dig into that.
First of all, you’ll need a 3D model to activate your 3D Painting canvas.
Modelling it’s not possible on Procreate; however, you can import already existing 3D models in the program. I recommend practicing with the standard models Procreate offers you as a default when you first update the app.
To download the Procreate’s model pack: Actions>Help>What’s New>Model Pack>Next.
To import other models, you can either download them from other websites or create them from 0, if you already sculpt; then simply drag and drop them on Procreate, or AirDrop it from another device and open it with Procreate directly.
The importable 3D formats are .USDZ and .OBJ, two of the most common ones.
What can you do with this 3D model, then?
TRANSFORM: As in the 2D version, this tool allows you to manipulate the size, shape, and position of any element in your illustration on your 3D object. This comprehends already known commands like rotate, flip horizontally or vertically and so on.
MATERIALS: In Brush Studio you can also regulate colour, roughness and metallics in your brushes. This will help to give the proper look to the item you’re working on, depending on the material it’s made of.
LIGHTING STUDIO: In any 3D program you can set and direct the lights on your 3D model as you prefer. Procreate also added this feature to their 3D Model Painting, to help the artists set lighting in their artwork with ease. You can manually set up to 4 different lights, as well as changing the atmosphere around the item – there are 11 (!!) different indoor and outdoor environments that you can use, both night and day time! That’s awesome. Each is modifiable in the color, position and intensity as well as the exposure of the object.
VIEW IN AR: Augmented Reality allows you to view how your final product looks in real life. It may be used to show your models to your clients, offering a complete consultation of your work. AR is being used like crazy lately, for marketing purposes, in online stores, portfolios, presentations and the list goes on. You can explore with incredible precision and realism your objects; they almost look real.
EXPORT: In the exporting and sharing step, Procreate also offers the opportunity to add effects that can make your finished product even more interesting. You can both export your 3D painted model as a static object or an animation. There are many choices to create nice dynamic presentations of your works, in just a pair of clicks!
| Pros and Cons of Procreate 5.2
Our verdict on the product is of course a 10 out of 10. This update gave us lots of refinements as well as a huge change, introducing for the first time 3D Model Painting and AR view. This makes Procreate even better than it was, proving (again) to be the best digital art app in the market right now.
- Easy introduction to the 3D and AR world
- The update is free for current users
- Several improvements in lots of different features in the platform
- Available on almost every iPad, not only the ones with M1 chip.
- Available only on iOS devices
- Procreate Pocket’s update won’t include 3D and AR view
Why should you care about 3D Model Painting and AR view?
You’re really asking me?
- Take your art to the next level: you’ll be able to show your art in many different ways, both 2D and 3D with ease and fast.
- Perfect to create unique mockups and animations for your shop, portfolio or presentations to stand out.
- AR view is kinda trending at the moment, so it could give you a boost in terms of visibility. Big companies such as Apple and Ikea, allow their customers to see how their products would look in their houses + this technology is growing and improving so fast that it’s 99% going to explode in the next few years, in my opinion.
- It’s just.. fun, let’s tell the truth.
| Is Procreate worth it?
In my personal experience, Procreate changed my life and my approach to drawing.
I learned the basics of digital art with a Wacom and my iMac. I tried mostly Krita and Photoshop, so my experience with computers is not that impressive or full. I usually stick to one program and one tool and just go with it, without trying to find other solutions and learn about something else. (I tried to learn how to use Blender but it lasted like, 2 weeks?) Nothing to say about the quality of the products I was used to, but I felt like it wasn’t the best solution; it just didn’t work for me.
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I found it really difficult to cut time (I had time, I just didn’t want to) to sit on my desk and connect my Wacom and draw.
I think that many of you would agree, but I don’t always want to draw. I have those special 10 minutes a day in which I’m super inspired, and if I don’t immediately start to draw, I lose my will. The problem is that sometimes this happened in school, sometimes at work, just in times and places that were not appropriate. I didn’t have my tools with me. I lost a lot of ideas.
That’s why I decided to give the iPad a try.
I bought it and immediately installed Procreate – yes, I basically bought it just for that.
I immediately realised that now I could draw on the bus, at school, in my lunch breaks at work and at my boyfriend’s house. I realised how free I was and that now I had the opportunity to take advantage of my daily 10 minutes of creativity and inspiration.
This is when I started to take drawing a little bit more seriously.
This simple tool changed how I saw drawing: now I enjoy creating, because I’m able to work on my way back home, comfortably sitted on a sofa or anywhere I want to. I feel more like I’m working on a real sketchbook, and that’s the thing I missed the most when I had to watch my PC monitor to draw (yeah, I wasn’t rich enough to buy those fancy graphic tablets with the screen).
| Questions you might have about 3D Model Painting, AR view and not only, answered directly by Procreate’s CEO and COO
At this point you may have lots of doubts and questions; I had them too.
That’s why I decided to watch (again) the Procreate 5.2 Preview, in which the CEO, James Cuda, and the COO, Claire d’Este, introduced the update showing the new features and answering some questions from the comments.
I’ve selected some questions you might have too, and wrote down the answers from their answers, so that at the end of this post, maybe it will be more clear for anyone!
+ You’ll find the big answer to the big question that any digital artist has been asking for years: “Why only for iOs? Are they owned by Apple or something?”
“What’s the goal of this update?“
Every Procreate’s update has a sort of theme behind it. This release had the goal to include everyone: the theme may be “Art is for everyone”.
Their awareness for inclusion is clear; we can spot it in the new languages added on the platform, as well as in the care of improving the user experience for everyone.
“It’s just so much fun to sit here and play.” the CEO, James Cuda, says. “What I love about 5.2 is that we kinda take the same kind of essence [of working on a 2D canvas] and put it to a new type of canvas. When you’re drawing on a 3D model, you feel like you’re drawing on a 2D surface. We worked a lot to offer this level of intuitiveness, spending a long time working on the gestures.”
COO, Claire d’Este, declares “Now people who didn’t think of themselves as 3D artists, can have a try! […] It tries to find a way to be comfortable to artists who are already using 2D, but also gives them the power to create beautiful 3D models.”
“Can you sculpt and model in Procreate?“
No. They decided to focus on 3D Model Painting only because they wanted to “make a step at a time”, not being too ambitious and adding too many different things. Also, it’s more intuitive for Procreate’s users, since they’re already used to painting on 2D canvases, and 3D painting feels the same.
They tend to specify that, after all, Procreate is a painting app.
“Is there a way to generate UVs into Procreate 5.2?“
Not yet, but they’re thinking about it! Maybe some future update.. 😉
“How to find 3D models to use on Procreate?“
- You can download 3D models from many websites; you can find them free or you can buy them if you need them for commercial reasons;
- If you’re already into 3D and you sculpt, you can create your own 3D models and import them in Procreate;
- You can download the free 3D Model pack from Procreate as soon as you update the app!
“Can you draw in 3D without a base model?“
No, because essentially the model IS your canvas. So, without a 3D model as a base, it’s like painting on.. nothing!
New 3D features.. But why not improve app stability?
This update, like many others released during the last few years, focuses mostly on adding hard-hitting new features. But, they’re also taking care of this aspect and the next update will be completely dedicated to improving the general behaviour of the app, fixing bugs, battery life and every detail of Procreate.
Which tools work in 3D?
Not every tool works in 3D yet, but the majority of them do (and they’d like to add more in the future.).
You’ll be able to use, for example, color drop, quick shapes as well as all the effects and filters. Tools you won’t be able to use, now, are clone, liquify and symmetry.
Can you paint models in VR?
No, because there’s no hardware able to support that in the Apple ecosystem.
And what about painting in AR?
With the technology we have today, it would be kinda tricky with an iPad, so, no.
What about making Procreate for Macbook?
James Cuda says: “We actually did spend time developing Procreate for Mac a few years ago, but what was missing was actually the most important ingredient: the Apple Pencil. It’s not the same when you have a third-party stylus and all the stuff that comes with the heritage of a desktop platform. So, this, [Procreate for iPad] for us, is the best experience possible.
Why are you stuck in the Apple ecosystem? Are you owned by Apple?
James Cuda: “No, we’re not owned by Apple. “Being stuck” is a deliberate choice because we want to be literally the best that we possibly can, and Apple is making the best hardware right now. The Apple Pencil is probably the best stylus, the M1 chip and the screens in these devices are amazing. For us, keeping ourselves acutely focused on that hardware means that we can generate a better user experience.”
Can we import our custom environments for 3D?
Not in this version of the update, but likely in some future versions it’ll be possible.
Will Procreate Pocket have this update too?
Not completely. It will have accessibility features but not 3D Model Painting and AR view.
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