Lesson 2: Procreate Canvas Basics

Procreate Canvas Set Up Section

Meet Your Procreate Canvas!

Hey there, are you ready for part 2 of my Procreate Basics Lessons? It’s time to learn how to set up your Procreate Canvas and give you a quick introduction of the icons along the top.

If you haven’t visited Lesson 1 head there to learn all about the Gallery page so you understand how files and folders work and how to organize, import, export, and share them.

I touched on how to create a canvas in the first lesson but there’s a bit more to it. I’ll get you through the basics but I won’t be diving into color theory because it’s a whole lotta information that would equate to an entire lesson or two.

My goal for now is to get you familiar with Procreate canvas so that’s where the focus will be. Are you ready? 😃

Don’t forget, when I say “Apple pencil” I mean whatever stylus you’re using. 😉

Setting up Your Procreate Canvas

Create a new canvas by tapping the + in your Gallery. You can now select one of the pre-existing canvases, but to create a custom canvas tap the other little +. A new window will pop up where you can set your dimensions.


Setting up Dimensions

Here, you can rename your canvas by tapping the text above your dimensions (a). On the left (b) you can select: Dimensions, Color Profile, Time-Lapse Settings, and Canvas Properties.


To set up your Dimensions tap Width or Height. Set your size in millimeters, centimeters, inches, and pixels. You’ll also be able to choose your DPI.

Below dpi you’ll see the Maximum Layers you’ll be able to work with which is mainly determined by the size and dpi you enter as well as your ipad’s RAM.


Color Profile

  • For images you create strictly for online use use 72 – 144 dpi and select RGB color mode.
  • For images you plan to print use a minimum of 300 dpi and select CMYK mode.

DPI stands for dots per inch and refers to the number of ink dots a printer prints in 1 square inch. The higher the dpi the richer and sharper the print will be. It will stay sharp if you reduce the size but enlarging it reduces the quality and crispness.

So, if you’re making something for online use but think you might print it later on use 300 dpi. I always use 300 dpi when I create my work because I never know if I may want to print it down the road. Plus, I can always reduce the dpi later on for online use without any problem.

Tap Create to open your new canvas.

Time-Lapse Setting

Did you know that Procreate can record your work in progress from start to finish? You can set up your speed & video quality here.


Canvas Properties

I don’t mess with this part because this can be easily edited in the layers panel. It just allows you to select the background color and transparency of your canvas.

. . .

Let’s Take a Quick Tour of your Procreate Canvas.

To make it easy to follow along create a new canvas. Tap the + and then tap Screen Size to open a canvas that fits your ipad screen.

Along the top are icons on the top left as well as the right. There are also sliding bars along the side. You’ll learn what these are, and in the next few lessons I’ll get into the details.


Icons on the Left…

Tap Gallery to return to the Gallery page (a). The Wrench icon pulls up Actions such as adding and sharing files(b). I’ll go over Actions in Lesson 6.


The Magic Wand is for Adjustments you can make to your layers or selections.


Next, you have your Selection Tool (c), then your Transform Tool (d).


Now for the Icons on the Right…

  • The brush icon pulls up the Brush library (e).
  • The next icon is the Smudge Tool (f).
  • The 3rd is the Eraser.

Then you have the Layers panel.


Lastly is the Active Color Disc where you can select your colors. It will always show what color you are currently using.


What are Those Columns with Bars on the Side?

The top column controls the Brush Size (a) and the bottom column controls Brush Opacity (b). Just slide the bars up and down to create the changes for your brush.

Tap the arrows at the bottom to Redo & Undo your last step or steps (c).


The box in between the columns is your Eyedropper (d). You can select a color directly from your canvas by tapping it with your finger but to do that with the Apple pencil you’ll need to tap the box first.

  • When you tap the box and a ring will pop up on your canvas that is the same color as your Active Color Disc.
  • Slide it over the color you want and the top half of your ring will change to that color.
  • When you pull your Apple pencil away from your screen the Active Color Disc will also change to the color you’ve chosen to let you know you’ve successfully selected that color.

Are you Right or Left Handed?

Since we’re talking about these columns let’s tap the Wrench icon at the top left, then tap Prefs (a).

Move the column to the left or right of your Procreate canvas by turning the Right-hand Interface (b) on or off.


You should now have the general lay of the land, and next I’ll get you started on the Color Disc and Palette!

I’ll Leave You with a Couple of Finger Gestures that will Surely Come in ‘Handy’!

  1. Move 2 fingers together or apart on your screen to zoom in and out.

2. You can also move your fingers around on the screen to tilt your canvas.

When you’re ready, head on over to the next Procreate Basics tutorial where I go over the Active Color Disc and panels. I’ll see you there!