Tips & Tricks May 23, 2022

Master these gestures and take complete control of Procreate.

One of the major advantages of Procreate being on iPad is the immediate and intuitive control touch empowers artists with. Some touch gestures are so intuitive most of us instinctively use them without even thinking about it. Other gestures require a little learning and muscle memory before they become second nature. Gestures keep your focus on the canvas and out of menus, speed up your workflow, and even enable artists with limited movement to create more easily. Discover all the Procreate gestures available to you, and enjoy the power they’ll provide next time you’re creating.

The basics.

Get the magic touch with these digital art essentials.

Paint / Smudge / Erase

Some gestures are so intuitive we instinctively know how they work. If ever you’ve used Procreate without Apple Pencil, you’ll know that tapping the Paint, Smudge, or Erase tool then touching your canvas is the first place to start.

Pinch to Zoom and Rotate

Ever since the ‘smart phone’ became a part of everyday life, so has pinching to zoom in and out. Procreate adds a twist on this pinch gesture by rotating your image when you spin your fingers in a circular motion.

Quick-Pinch

Every artist needs to step back and see the entire picture every now and then. Painting in Procreate is no different, except it requires only a Quick-Pinch to fit your canvas to screen. For best results, try lifting your fingers from the screen at the end of the gesture.

Most users know about Quick-Pinch to fit to screen. But did you know you can reverse this gesture to return to the view you had before your Quick-Pinch? Zooming back and forth from 0 to 100% real quick.

Two Finger Tap Undo

Tapping with two fingers to undo has become so ingrained with Procreate users that some forget it doesn’t work in all apps or in real life (such as this user). Two finger tap undo is a gesture that sets digital art apart from analogue. It allows for endless experimentation and big bold moves with zero regrets.

Did you know that Procreate can undo up to 250 actions? To undo a series of actions, tap and hold two fingers on the canvas. If you want to alter the length of the delay before rapid undo kicks in, go to Actions > Prefs and adjust Rapid Undo Delay.

Single Touch gestures

Imagine being able to perform the gestures above with a single tap. Single touch gestures help open up digital art to those who prefer simpler gestures or with limited mobility.

The Single Touch Gestures Companion will always be on-screen when activated. You can do this by going to global iPadOS Settings > Procreate and toggling Single Touch Gestures Companion on. The companion features:

  • Undo with a single tap instead of two touch points
  • Redo with a single tap instead of three touch points
  • Zoom when you tap, hold and drag without needing to pinch
  • Move when you tap, hold and drag without needing to use two fingers
  • Fit Canvas with a single tap of the Fit Canvas button without needing to Quick-Pinch

Intermediate gestures.

Committing these three-finger gestures to muscle memory will help make you a next level pro.

Three Finger Tap Redo

The opposite of Two-Finger Tap, tapping with three fingers to redo is just as intuitive. Plus it's a great way to flick between recent actions when deciding if you want to keep them or not. Just like Two-Finger Tap, holding three fingers on your canvas will cycle through up to 250 recent actions.

Three Finger Scrub to Clear

Sometimes you just want to empty a layer of its contents to start anew. Place three fingers on the canvas and scrub left and right to ‘scrub out’ the contents of that layer.

Three Finger Swipe Down to Cut/Copy/Paste

The Copy & Paste Companion performs Cut, Copy, Copy All, Duplicate, Cut & Paste, and Paste actions. Perform a three finger swipe down on your canvas to invoke the companion, or tap x to cancel it.

The advanced touch.

Utilizing these hidden gems can really make your creative process shine.

Four Finger Tap for Full Screen

Like to work with just a brush and zero distractions? That’s precisely what Full Screen Mode was made for, and you can turn it on with a quick four-finger tap. Perform another four-finger tap to bring the interface back, or tap the Full Screen indicator in the top left corner of your canvas.

Draw and Hold for QuickShape

Nothing makes you feel like you’ve got artistic superpowers quite like QuickShape. Draw any line or shape and keep your finger or stylus held on the canvas. After a short pause the stroke snaps into a straight line or the closest detectable shape.

Want a perfect version of the shape you’re drawing? Keep holding your finger down, and tap with a second finger and the perfect version of that shape will snap into place.

There are some other non-gestural aspects to QuickShape that add even more functionality. Learn more about these in the QuickShape section of the Procreate Handbook.

Precision Sliders

All sliders in Procreate are easy to understand and use. As you slide up or down the brush sliders, so does the Size or Opacity of your brush. But did you know that if you hold the slider and drag your finger sideways the increments of the slider become more precise as you slide up or down? Perfect for artists on iPhones and smaller iPads, or those looking to get that exact size or opacity for their brush.

Tap and Hold gestures

Procreate comes with some tap-and-hold gestures that aren’t obvious, but very handy in cutting down time spent in menus.

  • Tap and Hold Active Color to quickly swap between your current and previous color
  • Tap and Hold Selection to reload your last used selection
  • Tap and Hold any unselected Paint, Erase or Smudge icon to transfer your previous tool’s brush settings to the newly selected one.

Make your own moves.

All the gestures covered above are built into Procreate, but why stop there? Create your own customized shortcuts and assign them to a gesture.

Customizing your own gestures

The Gesture Controls panel is where shortcuts can be modified for a variety of tools throughout Procreate. To open the Gesture Controls panel tap Actions > Prefs > Gesture Controls.

Most shortcuts can be toggled on or off, and even set up as multiple shortcuts for the same function. However, you can’t assign the same shortcut to two different features. If two shortcuts do conflict a yellow warning icon will flash up next to the conflicting feature.

Quick flicking in QuickMenu

Under Gesture Controls is QuickMenu, here you can set a gesture for activating the highly customizable QuickMenu. This radial menu lets you assign almost any action in Procreate to one of six buttons. Discover more about how to assign actions in the QuickMenu section of the Procreate Handbook.

Once you've assigned your favorite actions, trigger them by performing your customized QuickMenu gesture. This will invoke the menu, where you can tap any of the six buttons to perform an action. Speed this up by performing a quicker drag motion. Or, supercharge it with an even faster flicking motion in the direction of the action button you wish to activate.

Once you have mastered this flicking motion actions activate without visibly invoking QuickMenu, leaving anyone watching you paint amazed at how you perform such complex actions with a quick flick of your finger.

Did you know all the gestures mentioned above? Hopefully we’ve been able to add a few extras to your repertoire, and freed up that precious creative time by keeping your fingers off the menus and firmly on the canvas. We’ve also prepared some tips specifically for speeding up your workflow in this article. Or head over to Procreate Handbook’s Gesture chapter to discover more.