How to Trace a Photo on Procreate: The Ultimate Guide

A Fun and Friendly Way to Master Tracing on Procreate

Are you ready to take your digital art skills to the next level? In this article, we’ll show you how to trace a photo on Procreate, the popular digital art app loved by artists of all levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, tracing can be a valuable technique to enhance your artwork. Join us as we explore the step-by-step process of tracing photos on Procreate and unlock your creativity!


Welcome to our comprehensive guide on tracing photos on Procreate! Whether you want to explore new artistic possibilities or simply improve your drawing skills, tracing can be a valuable tool in your digital art journey. In this detailed tutorial, we will walk you through each step of the tracing process on Procreate, from importing a reference photo to adding intricate details to your artwork. Get ready to unleash your creativity and transform ordinary photos into captivating digital masterpieces!

Why Trace on Procreate?

Tracing is not only a fun way to create stunning artworks but also an effective learning tool for artists of all levels. By tracing a photo on Procreate, you can gain a deeper understanding of proportions, perspectives, and lighting. It allows you to break down complex subjects into manageable shapes and lines, helping you develop your observation skills and master the art of capturing realism in your artwork. With Procreate’s intuitive interface and powerful tools, tracing becomes an enjoyable and rewarding process, enabling you to push the boundaries of your creativity.

“Can I Really Trace? Isn’t That Cheating?”

Tracing has been a topic of debate among artists for years. However, it’s important to note that tracing is a technique, not a shortcut. It is a tool that artists use to learn and practice various aspects of art. Tracing can help you understand the structure and anatomy of your subject, explore different shading techniques, and develop your artistic skills. While tracing can be a valuable learning method, it’s essential to use it responsibly and acknowledge the source of your reference material. Remember, tracing is just one tool in your artistic toolbox, and it’s up to you how you use it!

Step-by-Step Tutorial: How to Trace a Photo on Procreate

Step 1: Import Your Reference Photo

The first step in tracing a photo on Procreate is to import your reference photo. Open Procreate and create a new canvas by tapping on the “+” icon. Choose your desired canvas size and set the resolution according to your preference. Once you have your canvas ready, tap on the wrench icon to access the “Actions” menu. From there, select “Add” and choose “Insert a photo” to import the photo you want to trace. Adjust the size and position of the photo on your canvas, and then tap “Done.”

Step 2: Lower the Opacity of the Photo

To make tracing easier, it’s recommended to lower the opacity of the photo layer. This allows you to see the underlying drawing more clearly as you trace over it. To adjust the opacity, select the photo layer by tapping on it in the “Layers” panel. In the “Layer Options” menu, you’ll find an opacity slider. Drag the slider to decrease the opacity to around 30-50% or adjust it to your desired level.

Step 3: Create a New Layer for Tracing

Creating a new layer specifically for your tracing ensures that you can make changes and corrections without altering the original photo. To create a new layer, tap on the “+” icon in the “Layers” panel. Select “Add” to add a new layer above the photo layer. Make sure this new layer is positioned above the photo layer in the layer stack. This layer will be where you do your tracing.

Step 4: Choose Your Brush and Color

Choosing the right brush and color is crucial for effective tracing on Procreate. The brush you select should suit the style and level of detail you want to achieve. Procreate offers a wide range of brushes, including pencil, ink, and paintbrush styles. Experiment with different brushes to find the one that best suits your artistic vision. Additionally, choose a color that contrasts well with your subject to ensure clear visibility as you trace.

Step 5: Trace the Major Shapes and Lines

With your setup complete, it’s time to start tracing! Begin by focusing on the major shapes and lines of your subject. Use light, confident strokes to capture the basic forms and proportions. Pay close attention to the contours, angles, and curves of your subject and try to replicate them as accurately as possible. Remember, the goal at this stage is to establish the foundation of your artwork, so don’t worry too much about small details just yet.

Step 6: Refine the Details

Once you have the major shapes and lines traced, it’s time to refine the details of your artwork. Zoom in on specific areas of your canvas and pay close attention to the smaller elements that make up your subject. Add intricate lines, textures, and shading to bring your artwork to life. Use Procreate’s various tools, such as the smudge tool or the eraser, to achieve the desired effects. Take your time during this stage and don’t be afraid to make adjustments until you’re satisfied with the result.

Step 7: Finalize Your Traced Artwork

When you’re happy with the traced artwork, it’s time to add the final touches. Create additional layers if needed to experiment with different effects or make further adjustments. Procreate allows you to play with layer blending modes and apply various filters to enhance the overall look of your artwork. Consider adding highlights, shadows, and textures to give your artwork depth and dimension. Once you’re satisfied with the final result, it’s time to save or share your masterpiece with the world!

Tips and Tricks for Successful Tracing on Procreate

Tip 1: Choose the Right Reference Photo

When selecting a reference photo for tracing, it’s essential to choose one with clear details and good lighting. High-resolution images with strong contrast will make it easier to capture the details accurately. Look for reference photos with interesting compositions and appealing subjects that inspire you.

Tip 2: Practice with Different Brush Styles

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different brush styles when tracing on Procreate. Each brush has a unique texture and stroke quality, which can significantly impact the look and feel of your traced artwork. Try out various brushes to find the ones that best suit your style and desired level of detail.

Tip 3: Use Procreate’s Symmetry Feature

If you want to create symmetrical artwork, take advantage of Procreate’s symmetry feature. Enable the symmetry mode by tapping on the “Actions” menu and selecting “Canvas” and then “Edit Drawing Guide.” Choose the type of symmetry you prefer, such as vertical, horizontal, or radial, and start tracing. This feature can save you time and help you achieve perfect symmetry in your artwork.

Tip 4: Experiment with Layer Blending Modes

Layer blending modes can add depth and visual interest to your traced artwork. Play around with different blending modes, such as multiply, overlay, or screen, to see how they interact with the underlying layers. This experimentation can lead to surprising and unique results that enhance your artwork.

Tip 5: Take Breaks and Step Back

Tracing can be a time-consuming process, so remember to take breaks and step back from your artwork. This allows you to return with fresh eyes and a new perspective. Stepping away for a while can also help you notice any areas that need improvement or adjustments when you come back to your artwork.

Tip 6: Learn from Other Artists

Don’t hesitate to seek inspiration and learn from other artists who specialize in tracing or digital art. Explore online communities, social media platforms, and art websites to discover new techniques, styles, and tips. Engaging with other artists can provide valuable insights and help you grow as an artist.

How to Trace a Photo on Procreate – Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ 1: Can I trace copyrighted photos on Procreate?

It’s important to respect copyright laws and obtain proper permissions or use royalty-free images when tracing on Procreate. Be mindful of intellectual property and always credit the original artist or photographer if applicable.

FAQ 2: Is tracing a necessary skill for digital artists?

While tracing is not essential, it can be a valuable technique for developing your drawing skills and understanding the foundations of art. It’s worth exploring as part of your artistic journey.

FAQ 3: Can I trace on Procreate using an iPad?

Absolutely! Procreate is designed specifically for iPad users, providing a seamless and powerful digital art experience. Whether you have the latest iPad Pro or an older model, you can enjoy all the features and benefits of tracing on Procreate.

FAQ 4: Are there any alternative apps for tracing photos?

Yes, there are other digital art apps available that allow you to trace photos, such as Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk SketchBook, and Affinity Designer. Explore different apps and find the one that suits your preferences and artistic style.

FAQ 5: Can I trace photos to create original artwork?

Tracing photos is a technique often used as a foundation for creating original artwork. Once you’ve traced the photo, you can modify and add your personal touch to create a unique piece. Let your creativity flow!

FAQ 6: How can I improve my tracing skills on Procreate?

Practice is key to improving your tracing skills. Start with simple subjects and gradually work your way up to more complex ones. Experiment with different brushes, layer blending modes, and techniques to expand your artistic repertoire.

FAQ 7: Can I use tracing as a learning tool?

Absolutely! Tracing can help you understand the anatomy, lighting, and composition of your subject. As you trace more and more, you’ll develop your observational skills and gain a deeper understanding of art principles.


Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of our ultimate guide on tracing photos on Procreate. We hope this comprehensive tutorial has provided you with the knowledge and inspiration to explore the world of tracing and unleash your artistic potential. Remember, tracing is just one technique among many in the vast realm of digital art. Continue to experiment, learn, and develop your unique style. Embrace the power of Procreate and let your creativity soar!

Important: Watch How to Trace a Photo on Procreate – Video Tutorial!

For a visual demonstration of the tracing process on Procreate, check out our accompanying video tutorial. Watch as we guide you through each step, providing valuable tips and tricks along the way. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to enhance your learning and master the art of tracing on Procreate!

Closing Words and Disclaimers

In conclusion, tracing a photo on Procreate can be a fantastic way to improve your artistic skills and create stunning digital artwork. However, it’s essential to acknowledge the source of your inspiration and respect intellectual property rights. Always ensure you have the proper permissions or use royalty-free images when tracing on Procreate. Additionally, remember that tracing is just one aspect of the artistic journey, and it’s crucial to continue exploring other techniques and developing your personal style. So go ahead, embrace the power of tracing on Procreate, and let your creativity shine!

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