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How to Trace an Image in Procreate
  • By Nadine Spires
  • 09 Mar 2023
  • 14 Mins
  • Beginner
  • Procreate Tutorials

How to Trace an Image in Procreate

If you want to learn how to trace in Procreate, this tutorial will show you how

Do you want to learn how to trace in Procreate? Follow our helpful Procreate tutorial as we walk you through the process step-by-step. Procreate is an iPad-based digital art app that allows you to draw, paint, and edit photos. You can create stunning digital artworks with this tool thanks to its many features.

Mockup of image trace in Procreate

Procreate does not have an automatic trace option. The image will need to be traced manually but drawing in Procreate is never boring!

You can use any purchased image or your own photos to create the trace. Traced images can be used for sublimation, small business packaging or free stickers to show your customer appreciation for their order.

We will be using a tulips flat lay photo including this Procreate watercolor brush set from the Plus Hub. Discover the awesome benefits of our Plus Membership today!

If you are working on a tight budget, we know the FREE Design Resources section will have you crafting in no time. Before we begin, you will need to download and install your selected Procreate brush sets.

Step 1 - Import and Adjust the Opacity of your Image

To get started, we first need to Import the image into Procreate. Open the Procreate app and in the Gallery, tap on Import, and then select the image you want to trace.

Import image to be traced into Procreate

If you have already created a canvas, then you can insert a file or photo by tapping on the Actions menu or wrench icon in the top left toolbar. Learn more about navigating the app interface with our in-depth tutorial on how to use Procreate on an iPad.

Insert a file or photo in Procreate

Next, you’ll need to change the layer opacity in Procreate. Make sure the layer is selected under the Layers panel, tap on the “N” icon and adjust the opacity to about 50%.

Change opacity of the layer in Procreate

Step 2 - Select a Brush and Begin Tracing the Image

We are just about ready to begin tracing the image in Procreate. First, to prevent accidentally moving the image around, we need to lock the layer in place. Under the Layers panel, swipe the selected layer to the right. Now, tap on the Lock option so the layer will stay put as you work.

Lock the layer - Procreate tutorial

Tap on the Brush Library and choose a brush that best suits your design. You can experiment with different brush types and find the one that works for you. We selected the Water Sketch Pen from the Watercolor brush bundle and left the color as black.

Create a new layer by tapping on the Layers Panel, and then tapping on the “+” icon. It’s a good idea to create a new layer for each part of the design. This will allow you to individually edit each layer.

Procreate guide - Add a new layer when tracing

Rename your layers so they are easier to identify. Double tap on a layer and in the small pop-up menu, tap on Rename.

Rename the new layer in Procreate

The brush size was set by default to 9%. You can make this larger or smaller, but for our project, the size worked perfectly. Begin to trace the first petal on the larger tulip in the image.

Begin tracing image in Procreate

We want the next petal shape layer to be placed below the first petal layer. Tap on the Flower Image layer to select it, and then tap on the “+” icon to add a new layer just above it.

Change the order of the layers in Procreate

Keep on adding new layers just above the Flower Image for each petal. Right now it will look like a bit of a mess until we add a fill.

Complete tracing the image in Procreate - Free tutorial

Trace the tulip stem and any other part of the image you want included.

Step 3 - Add Color to your Image Trace in Procreate

You can choose any type of color palette you want for the traced image. Design Bundles has an abundance of amazing Procreate Color Palettes to add to your digital library. For more information, you may want to have a look at our excellent tutorial on how to use color palettes in Procreate.

Love using the Recolor tool but don’t know where to find it in the updated version of Procreate? Our quick guide on accessing the recolor tool will easily help you with that!

Fill the Petals with Color

To add a color to the petals, you first need to select each layer. Let’s begin with the first petal, which will be the top-most layer under the Layers Panel.

Select the layer, Petal 1, and then choose a color from the Color Panel. Fill the shape by dragging + dropping the color within the shape. Repeat this process for each petal layer, using different colors each time.

How to Trace in Procreate 11

Step 4 - Add Texture to the Image Trace in Procreate

Once you've added color to the petal outlines of the image, you can start adding some texture. Go back to the Brush Library and select the Soft Painter Standard brush or your preferred texture brush. Select a lighter color or white from the Color Panel.

When painting on a layer, you want to avoid going outside of the shape outline. This is where Alpha Lock comes in very useful. Double tap the first petal layer and tap on Alpha Lock. Next, begin painting on the petal layer to add some highlight texture.

How to Trace in Procreate 12

Repeat this process for each layer and remember to activate Alpha Lock. Experiment with light and dark shades, using various options to blend the colors for a smooth look. We added a Gaussian blur to each layer in the image below.

How to Trace in Procreate 13

Add further details if you want or leave it as a simple design. At this point, you can either hide the layer or delete it as it’s no longer needed. To hide the layer, tap on the checkbox on the far right of the layer. To delete the layer, under the Layers Panel, swipe to the right and tap on Delete.

How to Trace in Procreate 14

Step 5 - Save the Image Trace in Procreate

You have a few choices here before saving the trace in Procreate. You can group the layers if you want to copy and paste, rotate, resize or move the design around on the canvas. Do this by selecting the multiple layers, and then tapping on the Group tab top right-hand corner of the screen.

How to Trace in Procreate 15

Alternatively, double tap on the group name and select Flatten. Only do this if you are completely done with your design or your device has limited storage.

Add text and any other design elements you feel the design needs to stand out. You could even consider curving your text in Procreate to create a little bit of character! We also have a great tutorial on how to mirror in Procreate that would work perfectly for creating repeating patterns.

How to Trace in Procreate 16

Save the trace image in your preferred format by going to the Actions tab. Select Share and then tap on one of the format options. If you want to save the design as a PNG, then you may want to remove the background before saving.

Save traced image with transparent background - Procreate guide

Create stickers, book covers, sublimation products, printed wall art and the list goes on. Turn your photos into cartoon art, make memorable drawings of family and friends, or just make your own planner stickers. We hope that this tutorial has inspired you to grow your skills now that you have mastered the basics of tracing an image in Procreate.

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