New Tool in the ol’ Tool Box – Procreate!

Recently, Joe and I switched our Internet/Phone provider from AT&T to Verizon. Not only do we have true 5G service on the phones, better phone service in general, and a smaller monthly bill, Verizon gave us rebate/gift cards for the iPhones we already owned (3), which added up to enough for a new iPad Air 4. Joe arranged the whole transfer, and the phone bill is one of his bills, so I thought he was going to keep the iPad for himself, which I was all for, by the way. I was perfectly satisfied with my old iPad Air 2. But, when the new iPad Air arrived, Joe decided to gift it to me, and he took my old iPad, because he uses his Surface Pro for everything I use an iPad for. I was surprised, and so happy – because now I could invest in an Apple Pencil, and go down that digital dark hole called Procreate.

Procreate is an app for creating digital art. You can use any stylus with it, but the Apple pencil is particularly suited for Procreate because it is pressure sensitive, meaning you can get thick and thin lines based on the pressure your putting on the pencil, or if you’re inking, bigger or small blobs of ink, or painting, smaller or larger masses of paint. I’ve used Photoshop a lot, so Procreate wasn’t a total mystery – it works on the same principles of working in layers, and setting each particular layer to a blend mode or an opacity level. The tools, however, are pretty different, and the pencil is pretty hard to get used to. There’s quite a learning curve, and of course, I dove head first into the deep end of Procreate tutorials on youtube and Skillshare. For whatever reason, I’ve been trying to replicate the look of real watercolor on my iPad, when I can make very lovely watercolor with the real watercolor on my desk. This whole “why am I doing this” thing has me very confused. I’m not an illustrator, I’m not going to sell digital art on Etsy, and I love playing with my real art supplies. And, I haven’t mastered my real art supplies to any stretch of the imagination – it’s not like I’ve become an expert, and need a new challenge.

But, Procreate is a challenge, and it is something you can easily sit in front of the tv with, or the backyard, or wherever. Obviously, portability is a plus. Although, it’s really not a big deal to port around a sketchbook. Again, the why of it all is a conundrum. But, right now, I’m having fun with it, and here’s a bit of what I’ve been doing.

As I mentioned above, I’ve been focusing on watercolor, and I went in search of the best brushes to recreate a legit watercolor look. I purchased 2 sets, and I’m really happy with both of them.

The first is Watercolor Studio from Katsia Jazwinska. Including in this set are 7 brushes, 6 color palettes, and I think 5 watercolor canvases. The video tutorials are available on youtube, and they really sold me on the brushes.

This set is so good that you don’t really need a second set, but I bought a second set not because of the brushes, but because of the stamps, sprays and splatters that were included. This set, Aqua Real is from Lisa Glanz,

This set has 8 brushes, which are really nice, and probably if I had found this set first, I wouldn’t have bought Watercolor Studio, but they’re actually nice compliments to each other. The reason this set is so great is because it has 29 stamps that are splotches, blooms, spots, sprays – all kinds of things you’d see in real watercolor. Happy accidents no more – you can just add them with a stamp! Lisa has a nice leaf tutorial on youtube using just this set.

And when I say “just this set” I mean that Lisa Glanz has many many brush sets, and they all look fab. After I bought the Aqua Real set, I started watching her illustration tutorials on youtube, and I became a little entranced with the cute characters she makes. She also has a class on Skillshare about making cute bears if you want to check that out. She has a series of tools for procreate called Character Drawing Toolkits. There stamp brushes of common, organic shapes that provide a framework for creating people or animals or birds or whatever. I ended up buying the one for animals, as well as her Instant Artist Brushes, which are really nice.

So, I know you want to see what I created, right? So, not only have I been using my iPad for creating digital art with procreate, I’ve also been switched over to digital planning and journaling. That’s a post for another day. But, I created a Sketchbook in Goodnotes (a note taking app and a pdf markup app) (again, a post for another day), and here are some screenshots of my digital sketchbook:

This shows the Goodnotes interface, and the cover of my Sketchbook, which I made in Photoshop

This this flower is the first of my attempts. I create the art in Procreate, save it as JPEG, then I import it into the Goodnotes Sketchbook, and then I add text with this handwriting font.

This feather is from a tutorial from Teela Cunningham. Teela not only posts a really in-depth tutorial every Tuesday, she also has a great beginners Procreate class on Skillshare. By the way, I don’t know if it’s still going on now, but Skillshare was having a great sale for new members. It could be over, but it’s worth investigating, because Skillshare is awesome. Anyway, this shot at doing her tutorial is what really drove me to want to buy a set of watercolor brushes because what I had really couldn’t do what she was doing. That’s when I bought the Watercolor Studio. The leaves on the right hand side are from a tutorial that comes with the set.

This eucalyptus is also from a tutorial that came with the Watercolor Studio, but the tutorial was a red version, and I made my own sketch. The inset is a photo of real watercolor Eucalyptus I painted awhile ago, and mailed off as greeting cards.

Now we’re seeing some depth and texture! These leaves were painted with both Watercolor Studio and Aqua Real. You can totally see what a difference the stamps make. The only problem with them, to me at least, is my drawing ability – I haven’t managed to capture the leaf curls, but practice practice!

Now, here’s where I really fell into a time suck black hole. The little mouse was created by following along with a Lisa Glanz tutorial. This step by step recreation of the little mouse was great for getting a feel for her brushes (both the Character Drawing Tool Kit and the Instant Artist brushes) and for the Procreate tools. I really felt like I had mastered the selection tool after finishing this project.

The leaf on the right side is from another youtube tutorial from Drifter Studio. So, Calvin from Drifter Studio’s has a different method of creating his watercolor graphics, using the selection tool, and feathering, and get close up to the edge, to make realistic looking watercolor edges. I find this tedious and not fun – but it certainly creates a realistic look, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who really likes the technical aspect of things. I did buy his Feather Studio kit, although I don’t know why – it’s really specific to feathers, and how many feathers am I really going to make? And, I didn’t use his watercolor brushes to color the feather – only to make the wisps at the bottom, the slits, and the line/barb textures. I think this one was before I bought Aqua Real, so probably with just the Watercolor Studio.

More Lisa Glanz step by step tutorials. What’s really special about her Instant Artist brushes is the texture you can create in the backgrounds. I had a lot of trouble with the little dog. I just couldn’t get his legs right.

So after I finished all of these tutorials, I didn’t really know if I could use the tools on my own. It’s one thing to follow along, and it’s another thing to go for it on your own. So, I decided to have a go at making a little digital Charley.

How sweet did he turn out? I think he looks awesome, and I was really proud of myself because I’ve never really done any illustrating, and this really hasn’t been one of my things. But, maybe it will be? It was aggravating but fun. And, what made it less aggravating than had I tried to do this with pen and paper is the undo button – no scratching through paper with my eraser. No tears. Just an tap the screen once, and voila! Your last stroke is gone. As long as you don’t exact out of your artwork, you can undo every stroke you made. And, if that’s not enough, you can always use the eraser.

And then there are the snowdrops – I think they look like watercolor! And, it was certainly easier to do negative painting with an eraser. So that’s something special about Procreate! There’s no such thing as permanent.

So, I’m sure I’ll be showing you more of my digital work. And I certainly don’t intend to abandon my physical artwork – I love my art supplies! And, look for a post about Digital Planning and Journaling next week! Have a great weekend!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *