I first noticed the Procreate app about two years ago, and it didn’t take long to find myself waiting in line at Best Buy on Thanksgiving to snag the last rose gold Ipad pro and Apple Pencil. I rushed right home to purchase the app (it’s only about $6, so by far the easiest part of this shopping spree) and then boom. I had absolutely no freaking idea what I was doing.

The smooth brushes and easy to make digital lettering designs of my dreams weren’t happening, and I was at a total loss.

Cut to hours of tutorials and trial + error, and it’s safe to say that now I’ve not only got lettering on Procreate down pat, but it’s easily my favorite daily lettering tool.

Whether you’re a total newbie like I was, or have been using the app for awhile, these 15 tips + tricks can help boost your Procreate lettering:

1. USE A GRID

You can download some great grid options (like this free one from yours truly), but you can also add a basic grid straight through Procreate.

Under Brushes, choose Textures and then Grid.

I like to make my canvas as small as possible, and the Grid brush as large as possible, so that my grid lines won’t overlap.

Simply draw with the Grid brush over your canvas, and voila!

  1. Straight lines

 

Whether adding lines for lettering layout, illustration, or forming letters themselves, being able to draw a perfectly straight line is a huge help.

 

When you’re drawing a line (no matter how straight you start to draw it), hold down with your pencil and the line will snap straight. You can continue to drag it perfectly straight, or stop if you’re at the end of where you need to be.

 

You can also tap the screen with 1 finger while holding down your pen/stylus, and this will not only snap your line straight, but also at a perfect angle. This is great for going perfectly horizontally or vertically, and also getting good 45 degree angles (like I use in my favorite lettering grid to guide my script).

 

  1. Don’t settle for procreate brushes that come with app

 

Procreate comes with a ton of brush options, but unless you take the time to fiddle with them, a lot of them are pretty lackluster compared to the ones made my lettering artists specifically for lettering.

 

And no, this isn’t just a shameless plug for my Procreate brushes (although they are freaking awesome, and you can snag them here). I’ve had a vastly better experience lettering with brushes I’ve purchased, or even downloaded for free, than with the ones that came with Procreate.

 

There are also brushes like this pack from Molly Jacques, that aren’t lettering brushes at all, but rather fun watercolor-esque splotches and effects to add an extra element to your lettered designs. I use these All The Time, and they take my work to the next level with only a few clicks.

 

  1. Streamline brushes

 

That being said, one of the things to look out for in any brush is how streamlined it is. Streamlining basically means that the brush draws smoothly, even if you aren’t using a perfectly steady hand. If you use brushes straight from Procreate, they often aren’t streamlined at all, so they come out shaky, but even some downloaded ones can have this issue.

 

Luckily, the fix is super easy.

 

Go to the brush you want to change, and click on it. This menu should appear:

2. STRAIGHT LINES

Whether adding lines for lettering layout, illustration, or forming letters themselves, being able to draw a perfectly straight line is a huge help.

When you’re drawing a line (no matter how straight you start to draw it), hold down with your pencil and the line will snap straight. You can continue to drag it perfectly straight, or stop if you’re at the end of where you need to be.

You can also tap the screen with 1 finger while holding down your pen/stylus, and this will not only snap your line straight, but also at a perfect angle. This is great for going perfectly horizontally or vertically, and also getting good 45 degree angles (like I use in my favorite lettering grid to guide my script).

3. DON’T SETTLE FOR BRUSHES THAT COME WITH THE APP

Procreate comes with a ton of brush options, but unless you take the time to fiddle with them, a lot of them are pretty lackluster compared to the ones made my lettering artists specifically for lettering.

And no, this isn’t just a shameless plug for my Procreate brushes (although they are freaking awesome, and you can snag them here). I’ve had a vastly better experience lettering with brushes I’ve purchased, or even downloaded for free, than with the ones that came with Procreate.

There are also brushes like this pack from Molly Jacques, that aren’t lettering brushes at all, but rather fun watercolor-esque splotches and effects to add an extra element to your lettered designs. I use these All The Time, and they take my work to the next level with only a few clicks.

4. STREAMLINE BRUSHES

That being said, one of the things to look out for in any brush is how streamlined it is. Streamlining basically means that the brush draws smoothly, even if you aren’t using a perfectly steady hand. If you use brushes straight from Procreate, they often aren’t streamlined at all, so they come out shaky, but even some downloaded ones can have this issue.

Luckily, the fix is super easy.

Go to the brush you want to change, and click on it. This menu should appear:

All of these options are fun to fiddle with to create your own custom brush, but for this we only need the part at the bottom left that says “Stroke.”

Select that menu, and then look for the option to change the “Streamline.” I like to keep mine in the 90s (max can get a little glitchy), but play around until you find one that works best for that brush and your preferences.

When you’re done, just back out of the menu with the arrow at the top, and your brush should be much smoother.

5. COPY + PASTE WITH 3 FINGER SWIPE

Learning how to copy + paste was a GAME CHANGER for me in Procreate. You can use it to change your layout, duplicate a specific letter or design, or even get a fun shadow effect.

Simply swipe down on your screen with 3 fingers, and this menu should appear:

You can cut + paste to move around letters or specific parts you’ve selected (using the squiggley icon in the top menu to draw around what you want to move), OR copy and then paste something into a totally new layer.

6. FILL COLORS

Filling in a letter or object without having to manually draw in the whole thing yourself is also a big plus. Simply drag the colored circle at the top of your screen over to the space you want filled in, and release.

Be sure that the space is entirely closed off, or you’ll end up just filling in your whole canvas

7. ALPHALOCK 

The AlphaLock feature is great if you want to change the color of a design, or even just a letter.

Click the layer you’d like to work with in your Layers menu, and then select AlphaLock. You’ll see the background of that layer icon switch to a transparent checker. This means your AlphaLock is on.

Then, you can go ahead and draw over any part you’d like, and only that layer will be affected.

This is how I quickly change the color of my design all the time.

8. SHADOWS

You can also use the AlphaLock feature to create a fun shadow behind your design.

Copy the lettering you want to duplicate for a shadow, and paste it into a new layer using the 3 finger swipe.

Then, alpha lock your bottom layer, and change the color to whatever you want.

Move the layer to create your dropshadow, and you’re all set!

9. MERGE LAYERS

Merging layers is great for when you want to keep everything together. Simply arrange your layers to all be one on top of the other in your Layers Menu, and then click the topmost layer and select “Merge Down.” Do this for as many layers as you need to, and you’ll see the move down to be in the one below it.

  1. Switch between colors

Quickly switch between two colors by tapping your color icon at the top. This should bring you back to the previously used color.

11. SAVE COLOR PALETTES

Saving color palettes is a total lifesaver. Click the color icon at the top of the screen, and either find a color you love using the color wheel, or enter a HEX code under “Values.”

Then, hold down one of the gray squares until the option to “Set” appears. Click “Set,” and your color is saved. You can hold it again for a “Delete” option to appear.

12. USE YOUR ERASER!

Don’t be afraid to use your eraser! This is one of the best parts about lettering digitally!!

I use mine to erase mistakes (obvs), but also to taper off the ends of my lettering to get that flat edge look you’ll see all over my social media.

You can change the “brush” of your eraser, just like your brushes themselves, so if you’re working with a textured brush, change your eraser to be the same, and when you erase mistakes or add details inside your letters, you won’t lose that fun texture.

13. HOLD DOWN TO GET A COLOR

Have a color you’d love to copy but don’t know the HEX code? Easy peasy. Just open the picture in Procreate and hold down on the color you want. It should appear in your color icon to save in your color palette.

Seriously. That’s it. Easy freaking peasy.

14. TIMELAPSE REPLAY

Replaying the timelapse of your time on Procreate can be a really fun feature, especially if you like to add your lettering to Instagram or Facebook.

Just go to the Actions menu at the top (the little wrench icon), select Video, and make sure “Time-lapse Recording) is toggled on. You can then click “Export Time-lapse Video) at any time and it’ll automatically generate a timelapse video of your work in that canvas.

15. ORGANIZE YOUR GALLERY

This one might seem a little obvious, but I personally didn’t figure it out until I stumbled on it a year into using Procreate. You can organize your gallery into folders, or “Stacks,” so that similar work can be placed together and you can find things So Much Easier.

To do so, drag an item into your gallery on top of another that you want together. This will start your Stack. Then keep dragging that stack over the others you want together and they’ll fall into place.

Hopefully these tips + tricks will both save you time, but also make your lettering look as amazing as you want it to be!

Have you tried lettering on Procreate? Have a great tip that I missed?! Share it in the comments below…

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