Have you ever wanted to create your own Procreate brushes? Maybe you’d like to customize some of your favorite brushes or just get more familiar with Procreate’s wealth of brush settings. In this tutorial, we’ll take look at some Procreate brush basics and settings, and you’ll learn how to create and customize a custom Procreate brush.
For this tutorial, I’m using an Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro. You can also use a compatible third-party stylus, but this may result in fewer pencil settings.
1. Get Started With Brushes in Procreate
First, it’s important to note the Brush Size and Brush Opacity, in your main work area. Slide them up and down to alter your Brush Size and Opacity as you work. In the example below, my Brush Opacity and Brush Size are all the way up, at 100%.
You can also change the Color of your brush in the upper left-hand corner. For this tutorial, choose any color you like, other than the same color as the background.
Let’s begin by looking at the default Procreate brushes. First, to switch to Paint Mode and tap on the paintbrush icon. This will open up your library of Procreate Brushes.
Your current Brush selections are indicated in blue, as seen below.
Swipe through the list of brushes to browse them. Each category, called a Brush Set, has a number of default brushes available for the user. For example, Sketching is one of the default Brush Sets.
You can rearrange both these sets and the brushes within them by tapping and dragging them within the lists. In the example below, I tapped and held the 6B Pencil, so I can drag it wherever I would like in the list.
When I customize my Procreate brushes, I often like to Create a Duplicate, so I can freely experiment but also retain the original brush.
To Duplicate a Brush, swipe to the left and select Duplicate. You can also Reset a Default Brush from this menu, as well as Share or Delete, if it is a Custom Brush.
You can also organize your brushes into your own Custom Set. This can be handy for things like sorting your favorite brushes, grouping imported brushes, or storing your Custom Brushes all in one place.
To create a Custom Set, swipe downwards when viewing the available Sets. This reveals a plus icon. Tap this to create and name your new set.
To Delete a Custom Set, tap on the name of the set and then choose Delete. You’ll notice that your new Brush Set is empty until you add content to it. Again, tap and drag, as noted in Step 4, to Add and Move Brushes among your Brush Sets.
2. How to Customize Brushes in Procreate
Procreate brushes have a wide variety of settings. I highly recommend freely experimenting with them—this is a great way to get a hands-on feel for how they work. As we go through the settings, take some time to “get to know them”!
Tap on your desired Brush to open the Advanced Brush Settings. This is where we’ll make our customizations. There are seven categories with different settings we can adjust.
You’re welcome to customize any Brush that you like, for this tutorial. You can Reset a Default Brush at any time by tapping Reset in the upper left-hand corner (if you don’t see Reset there, it means the Brush is already in its default state). I’ll be using the Soft Pastel Brush in these examples.
Let’s start with the Stroke Settings, the first option on the left-hand side. These sliders adjust the following attributes related to your brush:
Spacing refers to the space between each shape that makes up the Brush Stroke. If you’re unfamiliar with digital drawing and painting, I’d recommend thinking about the stroke you draw as a repeated series of shapes. For example, when the Spacing is turned up, you’ll actually see these shapes spaced out. When the Spacing is down low, you’ll see a solid, continuous line.
StreamLine refers to line stabilization. Try turning it all the way up, and you’ll notice that your lines are extra smoothed out for you!
The Jitter is somewhat like a different kind of Spacing. Notice how adding additional Jitter spreads the shape out, rather than keeping it “together”.
Fall Off affects the length of your stroke. Leaving it as “None” keeps the stroke continuous.
The Stroke Taper settings allow you to adjust the Start, End, Opacity, and Size of any taper you’d like applied to your strokes.
Now, let’s look at the Shape Settings. Think back on what we reviewed in the previous settings: your Brush Stroke is essentially a series of Shapes. Here, we can make some adjustments to how this shape behaves.
Scatter is very much what it sounds like: whether you’d like the shape to scatter or remain more uniform.
Rotation is also much how it sounds: the Brush Shape’s direction.
There are two Shape Properties that can be toggled on and off: Randomized and Azimuth. With Randomized Off, your properties will be dependent on your stroke, but if toggled on, Procreate will add additional variation. Azimuth refers to the angle of your pen and whether or not you’d like your brush to be affected by this.
Finally, we have Shape Filtering, and three settings we can choose here: None, Classic, and Improved. They are different degrees of anti-aliasing.
The Grain is the second part of your brush’s composition. As we’ve discussed, the Brush is largely composed of a Shape. However, the Shape also has Grain, which is like a texture inside of your Shape.
Movement helps determine how the Grain behaves. With Movement at 100%, you’ll see the texture fill and repeat within the Stroke. Turned down to 0%, however, the texture will not repeat. Instead, the aesthetic will have more of a continuous look.
Scale, as it sounds, refers to the size of the applicable Grain, and Zoom determines if and how your Grain will scale with the Brush.
I typically leave the Rotation set to Static (in the middle), but these options can be used to Rotate the Grain with the direction of your Stroke, if desired.
The Grain Filtering should look familiar—these are the same settings we saw in the previous section, and they work similarly, but applied to the Grain instead.
The Brush Dynamics are broken up into three sections: Normal, Glazed, and Wet Mix. You’ll see familiar terms here, like Speed and Jitter, in each of the three sections.
Normal Brush Rendering is the default setting. You can adjust the Opacity and Size Dynamics to suit your desired aesthetic.
I often like to use Glazed Brush Rendering, as I find it makes for comfortable painting. Toggling Accumulative On allows the color on your brush to continually pile on top of itself. This can make for really nice blending with the Flow turned down.
Wet Mix Brush Rendering is as it sounds. For example, Dilution is how much “water” is in your brush, and Charge is how much paint has been “loaded”. Try out a Brush with High Dilution and Low Charge. Add a lot of Pull—this is how much paint is “pulled” with your Stroke. The result would be a brush with only a little paint, but a lot of water, so it pushes the color around and dilutes it!
Note that the Brush Preview changes when we adjust these settings, as well! Again, you can always tap Reset, if you’d like to revert to the Default Brush.
Don’t be afraid to test out these Brush Settings as you go through them! Personally, I think that’s the best way to get comfortable with them.
The Pencil Settings are divided into two sections: Pressure and Tilt.
The Pressure Settings can be used to adjust the Opacity, Bleed, Size, and Softness based on the pressure applied with your pen.
The Tilt Settings are not available for third-party pens, and they can be used to customize how the tilt of your pen affects your brush.
The General Settings contain many of the brush’s basics, such as its name, preview, and orientation.
The Brush Behaviors include options like Blending Mode, where a host of Blending Styles (similar to what you may be familiar with in your Layers, such as Multiply, Color Dodge, etc.), can be applied to the brush itself. You can also set the brush’s Orientation and degree of Smudge.
The Size Limits dictate the brush’s Maximum and Minimum available size. So, for example, I often like to raise the Brush Maximum on the default 6B Pencil, so I can get a much thicker stroke than the default permits.
I generally like to keep the Opacity Limits up to the full Minimum and Maximum, but in some cases, you may want to lessen these values—for example, in a brush where you know you want the Maximum Opacity to be capped below 100%.
Finally, let’s take a look at the Brush Source. This is the “guts” of the brush, as it’s the core Shape and Grain. These are the two building blocks of the brush.
We get three options here: Invert Shape/Grain, Swap from Library, and Insert Photo.
Invert Shape and Grain do exactly as they say: they invert the selected Shape or Grain, then apply it to your brush. Keep in mind that the white area in the preview is the active area, while the black area represents transparent areas.
Swap from Library brings up a Library of existing Shapes or Grains that you can choose from.
However, you can also choose Insert Photo, to use an external image. I like to tap on the preview image itself to browse my files. Feel free to try importing an image of your own—but remember to always use external imagery that is properly sourced.
3. How to Create a Brush in Procreate
Now, let’s use the Brush Settings we’ve explored to create new Procreate brushes.
Start by tapping the Plus Sign at the top of your opened Brushes.
Now, we have a new, Untitled Brush. Before we can customize it, we have to define the Shape and Grain. Again, these are the building blocks of the brush!
Let’s create a simple brush. In this scenario, we’ll build a brush that looks like a long chain of flower shapes.
For our Shape Source, I chose Flower via Swap from Library.
For our Grain Source, I chose Blank, as I didn’t want any variation in Grain. Again, this is available via Swap from Library.
Right now, our brush looks like a tightly packed line of flower shapes—and that’s not what we want. So let’s go back to the Brush Settings we’ve covered to customize our new Procreate brush.
First, in General Settings, let’s give our brush a name. Tap on the name to edit it. I called my brush “Flower Chain”.
Now, let’s go to our Stroke Settings. Adjust the Spacing until the flowers display in a row, instead of on top of each other.
Notice that you can see a preview of your changes in the preview window, above your Brush Settings.
Our brush is looking better, but the flower shapes are all uniform right now. I’d like them to turn and touch in a more dynamic way.
Let’s go to our Shape Settings to change how our Brush’s Shape behaves. We can change the Rotation here, to achieve the effect we’re looking for. Turn the Rotation all the way up until it says Follow Stroke. Notice, now, that the flowers rotate in a way that dynamically turns each one in response to the direction of our Stroke.
If you test out our brush, you’ll see it draws a chain of flowers.
But let’s say we want to change our brush. Let’s make a few adjustments that’ll completely change its aesthetic. Feel free to Create a Duplicate of our Brush (as we covered earlier), if you’d like to save your work.
Let’s start off by changing the Brush’s Grain. Return to the Grain Source and swap it out for Oil Pastel. You can find this via Swap from Library.
Now, let’s return to our Stroke Settings and lower the Spacing to None. This makes our flowers look like one continuous line again. While we’re here, let’s turn up the StreamLine, so we can test out a really stabilized stroke.
Next, go to your Shape Settings and set the Scatter to 100%. Notice that it takes the flower shape and mixes it up throughout the brush.
Let’s also go to the Brush Dynamics and tweak the Opacity Dynamics and Size Dynamics. I altered the Jitter on both, as seen below.
Go ahead and test out our brush—it rather looks like a fuzzy pipe cleaner now! I drew a quick, spherical shape to further test out and demonstrate our simple, fuzzy brush. It was drawn with only our new brush and changes in color.
Awesome Work Creating Your Procreate Brush!
You’ve created and customized your own Procreate brush. As we’ve reviewed, there are a ton of settings to experiment with—and that’s truly the best way to get to know them! Try them out and experiment with them! Happy drawing!
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