How to Add Reference Photo to Procreate
  • By Design Bundles
  • 04 Oct 2021
  • 7 Mins
  • Procreate Tutorials

How to Add Reference Photo to Procreate

Discover how to add reference photos to Procreate with this tutorial.

When working in Procreate, having a reference photo helps with the drawing process. Our memories are not quite as good as we would like. That is why referring to a photo is essential for correct details, structure and more. Adding a reference photo in Procreate is a great way to do this and it is quite easy.

Today, I will be using a gorgeous beach scenery photo. Lets get started by opening Procreate.

Step 1 - Turn on the Reference option

To use a reference photo, we will be using the Reference option in Procreate. Select the Wrench in the top left corner and then select the Canvas option. Turn on Reference by toggling the switch.

Turning on reference guide in procreate

Step 2 - Choose your reference option

After toggling on the Reference option, a window will open with three options. These options are Canvas, Image and Face.

View your canvas as a reference photo

The option of viewing the canvas as a reference photo may not make sense at first. When you are working on a design, you zoom in to add finer details. This makes it difficult to see the bigger picture. Loading a reference photo gives you a preview of your design while zoomed in on the canvas.

Tap on Canvas within the Reference pop up to select this option.

Using canvas as reference photo in procreate

Import an external reference photo

Reference images for projects such as body structure are imported onto the canvas. These photos may be stored in your camera roll. In the pop-up window tap on Image > Import image, then select your image.

Import external reference image procreate

Your photo should appear in the reference guide.

reference photo procreate

Use your face as a reference guide

The third option is to use your face as a reference guide. How this feature appears will depend on what is visible on the canvas. If there is an image on the canvas it will show as an overlay on your face. If you fill the canvas with a color, it will place a mask overlay on your face. This mask can be used like a blank canvas for drawing as it contours to the shape of your face.

In the Reference box tap on the Face option. Your front camera will switch on and you will see your face in the reference box. If there is nothing on the canvas then your face will show without any mask. On the canvas will be points for the eyes, nose and mouth. You can then draw directly on the canvas which will show up on the masked area of your face.

This is great for portraits. The reference photo below shows "Face" is selected, however the camera is not positioned to the face. If you click on Options you are able to take a photo or video and more.

face reference in Procreate

Step 3 - Move, resize and exit the reference guide

The reference pop up can be moved around on the screen to see the canvas more clearly. At the top of the box is a small line. Tap and hold on this line to select then move the box around. Resize the reference box by dragging a corner or pinching and moving.

To exit the reference guide, select the X in the top right corner of the display box. You can also toggle the switch to off under the Wrench option.

move reference box procreate

This wraps up how to use the reference image in Procreate. Next up check out our tutorials on creating a dual brush in Procreatehow to recolor, and outline lettering in Procreate.

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