A Plethora of Possibilities with Procreate Brushes

“What is Procreate,” you ask? Procreate is a powerful, inexpensive, illustration-lettering-drawing app that works with your finger or an Apple Pencil. It was originally designed for the iPad Pro (hence the name, “Procreate”) and now works with iPad Air (Generation 4) and all iPad Pros.

The digital “brush” is how you draw in Procreate. The app comes with 100+ brushes. If that’s not enough, you can create your own brushes or import free or paid brushes that others create. You can find thousands of brushes with a little Internet sleuthing.

I follow several Procreate artists and graphic design blogs and often learn about new brushes. I believe in supporting fellow graphic designers and artists, so I purchase some Procreate brushes and download others free. Here are ten of my favorite sites for Procreate brushes, in no particular order:

Watercolor Cactus drawing uses Procreate inking and watercolor brushes

Procreate brush management tips

If you download everything that catches your eye, you will reach “Brush Overload.” So, consider these brush management tips to make it easier to use and find your Procreate brushes:

  1. Keep only the brushes you need active in your Brush Library. Experiment with new brushes you download; you will find lots you like and lots you don’t need.
  2. Keep your Brush Library organized; Export unused brush sets to your iCloud, Dropbox, or other folders.
  3. Create a Favorites folder. Copy the brushes you use the most to that folder.
  4. Set a Brush Restore Point. Explore brush settings, but remember to back up settings before you change settings.
  5. Make your own brushes and brush sets if you don’t find what you need in the marketplace. Export (Share) them for safekeeping.

Happy drawing!

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Design, Illustration

Watercolor Cactus Series

Since I live in the Southwest and like desert plants, I followed a series of tutorials to draw watercolor cacti. The resulting drawings were abstract and I wanted more realistic watercolor images. Working with photos–including some of my own–I created a series of cactus and succulent drawings.

Like any series, these cactus drawings have evolved–I learned a few tricks along the way to improve my drawings.

A high school friend who now lives in the Phoenix area paid me the highest compliment; she said that my rendering and color choices look like the scenes she sees every day.

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Design

Drawing during the pandemic improves skills measurably

Patience, the Procreate app, and creating something every day improved my drawing and illustration skills.

Last year, my “go-to” hardware was a MacBook Pro, a Wacom drawing tablet, a wireless keyboard and a 25-inch monitor. Late in 2019 I upgraded my iPad and purchased an Apple pencil. I could use the iPad anywhere, rather than be chained to the desk in my studio.

Back to the pandemic… I have worked at home for over 15 years, so staying home a bit more was not too taxing. I wanted to improve my drawing skills, but could not make myself pick up a sketchbook. I remember my drawing teacher told me, “just try drawing something–anything–each day.” So I started creating something on the iPad nearly every day. Birthday cards, abstract illustrations, watercolor drawings, comic-style illustrations, and more. I learned how to use dozens of different types of “brushes,” something I hadn’t explored much in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I created many works from photos–free stock photos and my own photos. My skills grew, week-to-week and month-to-month. 

Do something good. Create something every day.

Jill B Gilbert

I truly improved my drawing and illustration skills during the COVID-19 pandemic. I credit patience, and creating something nearly every day, for much of the improvement. And I credit learning the Procreate app for the rest.

Now I use my sketchbook almost daily. Sometimes I use it at the start of a project. Most days I see where my mind takes me when I start Procreate, and use the sketchbook to take notes and to paste printed versions.

My advice: Do something good. Create something every day.

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Best Practices, Graphics, Illustration

Procreate for iPad review

Procreate is a Raster (pixel) drawing app with many features not found in other drawing apps available for the iPad.

In 2019, my “go-to” tools for making quick–and detailed–graphics and illustrations were Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop on my Macbook Pro. My setup included a Wacom drawing tablet, a wireless keyboard, and a large monitor. My iPad was a secondary tool, hardly part of my graphic design workflow. I dabbled in the different Illustrator and Photoshop apps for the iPad, but they seemed awkward. 

Then I traded in my iPad for an iPad Air (3rd Generation) and bought an Apple Pencil. I kept hearing about an app called Procreate, designed for the original iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. A blog I follow had lots of Procreate tutorials, so invested a small sum of ten dollars (!) and got started. Read on to learn the ins and outs of Procreate.

Pluses

  • You can choose from pre-installed drawing templates, or create your own.
  • You can use pressure sensitivity to change brush behavior and drawing stroke.
  • Layers! Depending upon the drawing size and resolution, you can have up to 40 or more layers.
  • Robust text capabilities and the ability to add typefaces.
  • Preinstalled color palettes.
  • You can create color palettes manually, from an image or a photo, or import palettes created by others.
  • You can export and save color palettes.
  • The shape tool creates “perfect” geometric shapes.
  • Drawing assist allows you to create straight lines, smooth curves, symmetrical illustrations, and more.
  • Create CMYK and RGB documents for print and Web, respectively
  • You can export to several file formats, such as PNG, JPEG, TIFF, layered PSD, and PDF.
  • You can edit and create Procreate brushes and brush sets.
  • Thousands of free and paid Procreate brush sets are available.

Minuses

  • As a Raster app, the drawing size and resolution must be set upfront, according to how you intend to use the illustration.
  • In the current version (5x), you can draw and edit arcs with three or four points, but not “S-curves.”
  • If you are a Typophile or often create illustrations with 20 or more layers, Procreate will crash periodically, even with decent iPad memory–but I have never lost a file!
  • There are so many Procreate brushes available, you may find it hard to limit the number you add; currently, you cannot tag brushes as “favorites.”
  • Cannot lock a color palette; I have accidentally changed color swatches many times.

Conclusion

Procreate offers many features not seen in competitors’ drawing apps. I recommend it as part of a graphic design workflow and use it almost daily. It is a true gem, and well worth the money. 

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Design, Graphics, Illustration

Last week, one of my French friends sent me a link to a PowerPoint presentation on the hidden meaning behind several corporate logos. I knew about the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo; the smiley face and lowercase letter “g” in the Goodwill logo; the smile and arrow from A to Z in the Amazon logo; and the hidden number 31 in the Baskin-Robbins logo. I know enough French to translate the captions on the slides.

Toyota Brand Mark

Today, I came across an English version in a blog post by Onextrapixel. It is a pleasant and quick read. The biggest surprise is the meaning of Toyota’s oval icon—it combines strokes for each of the English letters in the company name!

Tour de France brand mark shows a bicycle rider and the sun

Another favorite is Le Tour de France brand. The letter “R” depicts a bicycle rider and the letter “O” and the yellow circle represent two bicycle wheels and the sun; the ride takes place only during daylight hours.

Both of these brands have stood the test of time—they are crisp and memorable. Their hidden meanings make them more interesting.

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Branding, Corporate Identity, Design, Illustration, Logo Design

Looking for design inspiration? Try these blogs…

Most designers do not just wake up in the morning, feeling inspired. Something they see or do gets their creative juices flowing. I often find my inspiration on the Internet, and I follow several design blogs. If you don’t know where to look, here is a compilation of 20 design and development blogs to follow. It includes several I have followed for years, plus some new ones I am eager to try… if only there were more hours in the day!

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Best Practices, Design, Guidelines, Web Design

Branding lessons well worth learning

A Fast Company Design article relates how Steve Jobs worked with legendary designer Paul Rand to develop a logo for NeXT Computer.

NeXT logo (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Whether you have millions of dollars or a more modest marketing budget, the takeaways ring true.

  • A logo must be distinctive, memorable, and clear.
  • A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing (product or service) it represents; brands, by themselves, don’t make companies successful.
  • The designer’s role is to solve a problem, not to suggest options.
  • Logomarks—symbols like the Nike swoosh—could cost $100 million, plus could take years to become well-known.
  • Once a brand is designed, you must communicate standards and guidelines for its usage throughout your company.
Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Branding, Corporate Identity, Design, Logo Design, Marketing, Standards

The stories behind Paul Rand’s logo designs

The Envato blog had an interesting post about the stories behind Paul Rand’s logo designs.

Born in Brooklyn in 1914, Paul Rand is responsible for some of the most iconic brand identities, including IBM, ABC, Westinghouse, UPS and Next Computer. Though he studied art at Pratt Institute, he claimed that he was self-taught. He was inspired by European commercial arts journals and European modern artists and started his career creating magazine spreads. Soon he created magazine covers, notably for Esquire. At 27, he headed an ad agency, incorporating art into what, in the past, was mostly copy.

By the 1950s Rand moved on to logo work. And the rest is history, as they say.

Paul Rand’s IBM Logo Design (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Good design is good business”  —Thomas Watson Jr., IBM

You can see some of the famous work here.

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Branding, Corporate Identity, Design, Logo Design