If you think there’s a typo in the title of this post then you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m writing about the drawing app available in the Apple store not anything else. One of the main reasons to treat myself to a new 12.5 Apple iPad Pro and the Pencil was to be able to draw directly onto the screen using an art app. While I was waiting for the device to arrive, I watched a lot of YouTube videos and flirted with the idea of getting Adobe Folio for a while but then due to the cost and also the fact that I’ve always been more of a sketcher than a painter I opted for Procreate. You can get it for a one-off price of around £10.

Here’s a video where I ramble through how I created a decent looking manga style image of a Japanese geisha. This wasn’t plucked from my imagination as much as drawn very closely (without sketching) from a reference image, and I freely admit I cheated on the parasol in the end:

This also happens to be the first time I’ve ever spoken on a video, so apologies for that. It’s not at all as momentous as Greta Garbo moving from silent movies to talkies, and I sound like Alan Partridge, but hey ho. Also the aspect ratio and the thumbnail are wrong, but it’s better than nothing I guess. I do some simple video production for my work, so it’s all a bit embarrassing to be honest, but I just haven’t got the time to be fannying around too much. Time to draw but no time for home videos.

So ten reasons why I love Procreate:

  1. It’s great value for money – given the depth of functionality I don’t think this can be beaten in this price bracket.
  2. It sits nicely between Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator in the way it allows you to generate irregular lines, ellipses, circles, triangles etc. and then manipulate them before committing them to pixels. I use Photoshop a lot and once upon a time had Illustrator. I hated Illustrator. Adobe Infuriator more like. I had a brief dalliance with Manga Studio, but always wanted something I could use direct drawing onto a screen instead of a Bamboo drawing pad.
  3. It uses the very familiar concept of layers which is such a powerful way of separating out different ‘passes’ of tinkering you might want to try on an image and/or control an inventory of drawn objects (e.g. flowers in the above image).
  4. It allows you to open a small floating window on top of what you’re drawing holding your reference image, or your camera feed (I think, it says ‘face’ so I assume it’s for self-portraits) or the canvas itself if you’re mired doing zoomed-in detail in one corner but need to keep track of the whole thing aswell.
  5. It uses some very clever hand gestures to undo / redo work and lots of other things. That said I have turned off single finger controls by choosing the ‘gestures only’ option as I was finding it was misreading my cacky left-handedness at times.
  6. There are lots and lots of really useful brushes – not just pencils, pens and charcoals, but also textures and patterns e.g. hair, stars, newspaper print etc.
  7. Coupled with the angle and pressure sensitive Pencil, it is as close to actually drawing on paper as you can get electronically – especially when you use a matte paper-like screen protector.
  8. It automatically records a video of you creating your drawing with a full-length or 30-second option. That’s how I did the video above (and recorded the audio separately). It’s a shame you can’t choose more length options. Obviously when I say ‘full length’ I don’t mean the full five hours or so it actually took me to do the above drawing, and I’d be more interested in a length somewhere between 30 seconds and five minutes. The 30-second video skips over a lot of the detail – for example in the video below the 30-second version totally skips over how I drew and then applied the Gaussian blur to the TARDIS background.
  9. Just like the brushes, the default canvas and output options are great out of the box with all the expected sizes and file formats. Like Photoshop, I understand you can configure different canvas sizes and new brushes but I ‘m not that brave yet. I’m doing some good stuff with the default ‘studio pen’.
  10. The developers appear to be providing new features as time goes on and while some of them are a bit silly (like a face-painting function I haven’t bothered with yet) there’s a lot of thought been put into others, and there’s certainly a really good user base willing to share hints and tips (and even brushes) online.

So here’s another video. No voiceover on this one. It’s of a drawing of my favourite Doctor, Tom Baker, based on an image off a desk calendar I got a few years ago of the (then) twelve doctors. The image was kind of black and white but with blue ink and so that’s how I started off, before I realised his scarf would be much cooler if it was in colour. I found the original publicity photo on Google and so used that as reference instead. This drawing took a lot longer than the one above and was all free-hand:

I guess with both of these images I’m skirting rules about copyright and permissions for reproduction, but my reasoning here is that both images are somewhat different to the original and drawn rather than traced. I have about twenty images on my iPad Pro of my favourite cartoon characters like Wile E. Cayote, Dangermouse, Batfink, Jamie and his magic torch and G-Force from the Battle of the Planets, for instance but I won’t show then here because they were traced and so look identical to the originals. Posting them here, I think would be artistic plagiarism.

If you have an up-to-date iPad and a passion for drawing or a desire to start drawing digital art then I strongly recommend you give Procreate a go. You will not be disappointed.