How to Trace a Photo in Procreate: Unlock Your Creative Potential

A Fun and Friendly Guide for the Whole Family

Are you ready to turn your photos into stunning digital artworks? Learn how to trace a photo in Procreate and unleash your creativity with this step-by-step guide. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, you’ll discover how easy it is to transform your images into beautiful illustrations.


You may have seen incredible digital artworks and wondered how they were created. Well, the secret lies in Procreate – a powerful and intuitive app that allows you to create stunning illustrations on your iPad. One of the essential skills every digital artist should master is tracing a photo in Procreate. By using this technique, you can easily turn any image into a reference for your artwork.

But how exactly do you trace a photo in Procreate? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process, from importing a photo to refining your traced artwork. Whether you’re an aspiring artist or simply want to have fun with digital drawing, this tutorial is for you.

Getting Started with Procreate

1. Downloading and Opening Procreate

Before you can start tracing a photo in Procreate, you need to download and open the app on your iPad. Follow these simple steps:

1. Head over to the App Store and search for “Procreate.”

2. Tap the “Get” button and wait for the app to download and install.

3. Once installed, tap the Procreate icon on your home screen to open the app.

2. Exploring the Procreate Interface

When you open Procreate, you’ll be greeted by a blank canvas and a variety of tools and options. Let’s take a quick tour of the app’s interface:

1. Canvas and Layers: The canvas is where you’ll create your artwork, and layers allow you to work on different elements separately.

2. Toolbar: Located at the top of the screen, the toolbar contains essential tools and settings, such as brushes, colors, and layers.

3. Brushes: Procreate provides a wide range of brushes, each with unique characteristics. Tap the brush icon in the toolbar to access the brush library.

4. Color Picker: To choose colors for your artwork, tap the color icon in the toolbar. You can select from a vast color palette or create custom colors.

5. Layer Management: Tap the layers icon to view and manage your layers. Here, you can add, delete, rearrange, and adjust the opacity of each layer.

6. Gestures: Procreate supports various gestures, such as pinch to zoom, two-finger tap to undo, and three-finger tap to redo. Experiment with these gestures to enhance your workflow.

3. Familiarizing Yourself with Tools and Brushes

Procreate offers an extensive collection of tools and brushes that you can use to bring life to your artwork. Let’s explore some of the most commonly used ones:

1. Brush Library: Tap the brush icon in the toolbar to access the brush library. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of brushes, including pencils, inks, paints, and more.

2. Brush Customization: Once you’ve selected a brush, you can customize its size, opacity, shape, and other settings to achieve the desired effect. Explore the brush settings to unleash your creativity.

3. Smudge Tool: The smudge tool allows you to blend colors and create smooth transitions. It’s great for adding texture and depth to your artwork. You can find the smudge tool in the toolbar.

4. Eraser: To correct mistakes or remove unwanted parts of your artwork, use the eraser tool. You can adjust its size and opacity, just like any other brush.

5. Selection Tools: Procreate provides various selection tools, such as the freehand selection, rectangular selection, and magic wand. These tools allow you to isolate and manipulate specific areas of your artwork.

Tracing a Photo in Procreate

1. Importing a Photo

Before you can start tracing a photo, you need to import it into Procreate. Follow these steps:

1. Tap the “+” icon located in the top-right corner of the screen to create a new canvas.

2. Tap “Insert a Photo” to choose an image from your iPad’s library.

3. Select the photo you want to trace and tap “Insert.”

4. The photo will appear on your canvas, ready to be traced.

2. Adjusting the Opacity

Now that you have your photo on the canvas, it’s time to adjust its opacity. This ensures that the photo serves as a reference while you trace over it. Here’s how:

1. Tap the layers icon (represented by two squares) in the top-right corner of the screen.

2. In the Layers menu, tap the photo layer to select it.

3. Adjust the opacity slider to your desired level. It’s recommended to lower the opacity so that your traced lines stand out.

4. Tap “Done” to apply the changes and exit the Layers menu.

3. Creating a New Layer

To keep your traced artwork separate from the original photo, it’s best to create a new layer. This allows for easy editing and adjustments. Follow these steps:

1. Tap the layers icon (represented by two squares) in the top-right corner of the screen.

2. Tap the “+” icon in the Layers menu to add a new layer.

3. Make sure the new layer is positioned above the photo layer.

4. You’re now ready to start tracing on the new layer.

4. Tracing the Outline

With your photo and new layer set up, it’s time to start tracing the outline of your subject. This step serves as the foundation for your artwork. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Select the Brush tool from the toolbar on the left side of the screen.

2. Choose a brush size and opacity that suits your style and the level of detail you want to achieve.

3. Begin tracing the outline of your subject using light, confident strokes. Don’t worry about perfection at this stage – focus on capturing the overall shape.

4. Toggle on the QuickShape option in the toolbar to automatically smooth out your lines and create more refined shapes.

5. Continuously zoom in and out of the canvas to ensure accuracy and to add finer details.

5. Adding Detail and Shadows

Now that you have the basic outline, it’s time to add details and shadows to give your artwork depth and dimension. Follow these steps to enhance your traced image:

1. Create a new layer above your outline layer for adding details.

2. Select a smaller brush size and adjust the opacity as needed.

3. Start adding finer details, such as facial features, textures, and any other elements that make your subject unique.

4. To create shadows, choose a darker color and carefully apply it to areas where the light doesn’t hit directly.

5. Play around with different brush settings and techniques to achieve the desired effect.

6. Coloring Your Traced Artwork

With your traced artwork complete, it’s time to add some color. Procreate provides various tools and options for coloring your artwork. Follow these steps to bring your creation to life:

1. Create a new layer above your outline and detail layers for coloring.

2. Select the desired colors using the Color Picker tool.

3. Use the Fill tool to quickly color larger areas of your artwork.

4. Switch to the Brush tool for adding more precise color variations and blending.

5. Experiment with different blending modes and opacity settings to create interesting color effects.

7. Refining and Finalizing Your Artwork

Once you’re satisfied with your traced and colored artwork, it’s time to refine and finalize it. Follow these steps to add the finishing touches:

1. Review your artwork and make any necessary adjustments or corrections.

2. Merge the layers containing your outline, details, and colors to create a single layer.

3. Choose the Smudge tool from the toolbar and use it to blend colors and textures for a more polished look.

4. Experiment with filters, effects, and other Procreate features to enhance your artwork further.

5. Once you’re happy with the final result, save your artwork and share it with the world!

How to Trace a Photo in Procreate – FAQ

1. Can I trace photos in Procreate on my iPhone?

“Yes, Procreate is available on iPhone as well. Follow the same steps mentioned in the tutorial to trace photos on your iPhone.”

2. Are there any alternative apps for tracing photos?

“While Procreate is highly recommended, you can also try Adobe Photoshop Sketch or Autodesk SketchBook for tracing photos.”

3. Can I change the size of my traced artwork?

“Absolutely! Procreate allows you to resize your artwork without losing quality. Simply go to the Canvas menu and adjust the dimensions.”

4. Is tracing a photo considered cheating?

“Tracing can be a helpful exercise for learning and practicing art. It’s not cheating as long as you use it as a tool to improve your skills and not claim someone else’s work as your own.”

5. Can I use copyrighted photos for tracing?

“It’s best to avoid using copyrighted photos without permission. Instead, choose photos that are in the public domain or use your own original photographs.”

6. How can I make my traced artwork look more unique?

“Experiment with different art styles, color palettes, and techniques to give your traced artwork your personal touch. Don’t be afraid to let your creativity shine!”

7. Can I adjust the opacity of my traced lines?

“Yes, you can adjust the opacity of your traced lines by selecting the layer containing them and using the Opacity slider in the Layers menu.”

Conclusion: Unleash Your Creative Potential

Congratulations! You’ve learned how to trace a photo in Procreate and turn it into a stunning digital artwork. With the help of this tutorial, you can now explore endless possibilities and create unique illustrations that reflect your creative vision.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment and try new techniques. Whether you want to create realistic portraits, magical landscapes, or imaginative characters, Procreate is your canvas of endless opportunities.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your iPad, open Procreate, and let your creativity soar! Start tracing, coloring, and transforming your photos into works of art that will amaze your friends, family, and even yourself.

Happy tracing!


This article is for educational and informational purposes only. We do not promote any form of copyright infringement or plagiarism. Always seek proper permissions and give credit to the original creators of any referenced photos or artworks.

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