Creating a traditional-looking portrait in Procreate is a lot easier with the right tools. In this tutorial, we’ll use a few line brushes for Procreate from Envato Elements with great graphite brushes and textures to achieve this effect.
We’ll learn how to draw a digital portrait with a traditional look in Procreate from scratch. We'll take some inspiration from the retro and Art Nouveau styles, and we'll explore different drawing techniques from the Great Masters to make it look traditional.
Before starting our drawing, you'll need to download and install these Procreate brush sets:
The pack includes 25 line brushes for Procreate and 8 paper textures.
There are 18 pencils in this Procreate brush set and 3 texture fill brushes.
This Procreate brush set comes with 10 sketch brushes and 7 pencil brushes.
Do you like video tutorials? If you're a visual person, then you'll love this new video from the Envato Tuts+ channel. Watch me work and learn how to draw on Procreate by following this video tutorial:
What You'll Learn in This Procreate Lineart Brush Tutorial
- How to make a sketch
- How to apply the paper texture
- How to create the line art
- How to create the main shapes
- How to add shadows and highlights
- How to create a textured background
- How to color the image using a Gradient Map
What You'll Need
- Basic Pencil Procreate Brushes
- Procreate Pencil Drawing Collection
- Sketch & Pencil Procreate Brushes
- Procreate Watercolor Cotton Paper
Are you all set? Then let's start this portrait tutorial for Procreate!
1. How to Make a Sketch
In this tutorial, I'm using an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil and the Procreate 5.2 app.
First, open the application. Tap the (+) icon in the top right corner to create a New Canvas. Tap to Create Custom Size and create a 3500 x 4000 px canvas size, RGB, 300 DPI resolution.
I start the process by gathering the reference images to take some inspiration and explore new ideas for my artwork. I was greatly inspired by the vintage style and by nature in creating this portrait.
I prefer to start my sketch directly in Procreate using a large textured brush. I choose the Uneven Tip brush from the Drawing Pencils set for loose sketching.
We already have two layers by default: one layer with the background color and one empty layer.
Open the Layers panel, tap "Layer 2", and rename it “schematic sketch". Also choose any color you like from the Color menu in the top-right corner. I prefer to sketch with any shades of blue.
Start by searching a general shape of the silhouette, keeping the image rough and simple. Feel free to work very loose here—don’t focus on any small features and details.
Create a New Layer for a detailed sketch on top of the "schematic sketch" layer.
Since we're drawing a front-facing portrait, we’ll use the Symmetry tool to speed up our work on the head construction. Go to Actions > Canvas > Drawing Guide > Edit Drawing Guide > Symmetry as shown below.
Make your brush size smaller by moving down the top slider on the left side of the screen. Draw the face features in more detail. Once you’re done with the symmetrical elements, tap on the layer and remove the Drawing Assist tick from the drop-down list. Then go to the Actions menu and switch off the Drawing Guide option.
Refine your sketch by adding more details to the face and movement to the hair. I chose tiger lily flowers as floral elements to decorate the hairstyle and give a bit more character to the portrait. In the end, define some shadow shapes on the portrait, establishing the light source.
2. How to Apply the Paper Texture
Using a good paper texture is one way of making a digital drawing look like a traditional one. And there’s a very easy way to create a paper texture in Procreate by using a suitable brush. My favorite is the Watercolor paper 5 brush from the Watercolor Paper Set we downloaded earlier.
Start by creating a New Layer on top of the "detailed sketch" layer. Pick a grey color to cover the entire canvas with texture using the Max Size of the brush. Change the Blending Mode to Multiply. Duplicate this layer and change the Blending Mode to Linear Burn.
For a convenient work process, let's create a Group with the texture layers.
Drag these layers from left to right to select them and tap the Group in the top right, and you'll get a New Group. Rename it "paper".
You can open or close this folder—just tap the little arrow in front of the group name.
3. How to Create the Line Art
Let’s start by choosing a perfect brush for the line art. I like using pencil brushes for the lines, and I found a great one, the Gritty Pencil from the Drawing Pencils set. This textured brush is ideal for drawing clean line art and tiny details.
You can make a few trial lines to sense the brush. Set the brush Size to about 25% with 100% Opacity. The thickness and opacity of the lines depend on the pressing force of the stylus.
Now we're ready to start creating our line art.
First, lower the Opacity of the sketch layer to about 40% and create a new layer for the line art on top. Pick a dark grey color from the Colors menu, avoiding black for the softer look.
Start by drawing the face and body with smooth lines on top of your sketch. Create clean and confident lines, trying to imitate the look of a graphite pencil. Avoid using the Symmetry Tool here—draw every object separately. It will give more life to your drawing.
Now let's draw the hairstyle. First, draw the main lines following the sketch, and then make it more detailed, adding tiny strands of hair.
Create floral elements and decorate the hairstyle with leaves, using the same principle. Don’t hesitate to use any photo references here—this will help move your work forward and draw flowers more confidently.
Finish your line art, adding more details to the drawing.
Now it’s time to add some hatching and tiny details.
But first, let’s try a new option—switch between different brush sizes. It’s very helpful in the line art process.
The Size of our brush is 25% now. Tap the (+) symbol and you’ll find a guide-mark associated with this brush size on the toolbar. Create a guide-mark for the 10% brush Size as well. We’ll use it for the tiny details. Now we can easily switch between these two brushes if it’s necessary.
OK, let’s use our small brush to refine the eyes, lips, and nose, and add some tiny details like eyelashes. Also define the form of the face, adding some hatching to the shadows.
Make the sketch layer invisible and correct the details if necessary.
After the thinnest lines are complete, let’s add a thicker outline to the drawing.
Create a New Layer and switch your brush to 25% again. Go through the image to separate elements with thicker outlines. Press the stylus a bit harder to make bolder lines. It looks more natural if you add these thick lines manually.
This kind of outline is inspired by Art Nouveau drawings. Every line should serve the composition, so make sure they’re cohesive in their design.
Complete your drawing, adding some decorative dots to the flowers, cheekbones, and collar.
And now we can admire the result of the line art.
4. How to Create the Main Shapes
Let's start by filling the background with color. We’ll use a very light grey as a basic color.
Now create a New Layer under the “line art" layer. Pick the Grain Fill brush from the Drawing Pencils set. Cover the canvas with light grey color using the Max Size of the brush.
Create another layer for the base shape of our character. Pick a slightly darker shade of light grey and draw the large strokes to fill the whole shape.
Now we need to clean the area outside of the lines.
Using the Selection Tool with the Freehand option, select the area you need to delete. Swipe down with three fingers, and choose Cut from the menu. As a result, you'll get an absolutely clean area.
Let’s create a New Layer for the hair on top of the “base shape”.
Tap the “base shape” layer and select Alpha Lock and Select from the drop-down list. It will help us to paint inside the base shape without crossing this area.
Now go to the “hair" layer and fill the whole shape of the hairstyle with dark grey color using the same brush. Clean the area outside of the hair shape using the Selection Tool. Also refine the hairline with the Eraser Tool.
Create a New Layer for the flowers and clothes on top of the “hair" layer.
Using the same method, fill the flowers and collar shapes with grey. Use a range of shades of grey for each object to create a good contrast between them. Organize the layers as shown below.
5. How to Add Shadows and Highlights
Let's start by adding some volume to the face. Create a New Layer for the skin, shading on top of “base shape”.
Now pick a grey color and choose the Pencil 12 brush from the Pencil Brushes New set. I like using this brush because of the softness and texture, and also because it makes the shading look more realistic.
Tap Select on the “base shape” layer from the drop-down list, as we did before.
Go to the “skin shading" layer and start building subtle shadows on the face and neck with large brush strokes, keeping in mind where the light source is. The separate layer allows you to refine the shadows using the Eraser Tool.
This way, let’s add some dark shadows on a New Layer. Pick a dark grey color to show the character's facial features more clearly. You can vary the brush Size in the process as you like.
Considering the softness of the greyscale palette we are using, let's add some contrast to the drawing, making the line art darker.
Merge the “line art” and “outline” layers first. Tap on the top layer with the outline and choose Merge Down from the drop-down list.
Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Multiply.
It’s time to refine the hairstyle.
I noticed that the base shape of the hair has transparency because of the brush we used. For our next step, we need a solid shape with 100% Opacity. So let's fix it!
Duplicate the “hair" layer and fill it with light grey color. Just drag it from the Colors in the top right using your finger, and drop it onto the hair shape.
Repeat the previous step a couple of times, merging all the layers with the light grey shape in the process.
Drag the initial “hair” layer on top of the light grey one and tap Merge Down.
That’s it! Now we have a solid hair shape, and we are ready for the next step!
Let’s start forming the hairstyle.
First, lock in the "hair" layer by activating Alpha Lock. Pick the Pencil 13 brush from the Pencil Brushes New set and a dark grey color. Use the Max Size of the brush to fill the hair shape with texture, making it darker on the bottom and lighter on the top.
Create a New Layer for the hair shading on top of the selected “hair” layer. Use the same brush to draw some deep shadows on the roots of the hair and on the shadowy area of the locks.
Now pick the 2B Pencil brush from the Drawing Pencils set and draw the strands of hair, styling separate locks. Switch to the Eraser Tool to form some gentle textured strokes of the highlights. We don't draw every single hair individually at this stage but cluster and form groups.
Turn on Alpha Lock on the “flowers/ clothes" layer. Use the same 2B Pencil brush to add some volume and texture to the floral elements. Draw some short strokes, imitating a graphite pencil look.
It's time to introduce some proper lighting, establishing the light source. Highlights are a very effective tool in the rendering process.
Create a New Layer on top of the “dark shadows" layer. Pick a white color and the Nice Grain brush from the Drawing Pencils set for the highlights.
Paint subtle highlight strokes on the lightened area of the face, keeping in mind where the light source is.
To make the image more refined with the halftones, reduce the Opacity of the layer to about 60%.
It’s time to make our character more lively and expressive by adding some intense highlights.
Let’s start with a rim light. It’s a very effective tool to use light for creating a three-dimensional effect.
Create a New Layer below the “line art" layer. Using the same brush, add a bright rim light to the left side of the hair, flowers, and facial contours. This light effect helps to separate our character from the background.
In the end, add some gloss to the eyes, nose, cheekbones, flowers, and collar.
Once we're happy with the highlights, let’s refine the face of our character.
Create a New Layer for the details on top of the “line art" layer. Use the Nice Grain brush for large strokes and the Gritty Pencil for the tiny details. Also, use the Color Picker to pick a color you need right from the image. Refine the image, correcting the facial features and adding some volume to the eyes and lips.
You can find the Color Picker Button between the Size and Opacity sliders.
Complete the portrait, adding some more tiny details. Draw separate hairs to make the hairstyle more natural, and also add some gloss and contrast to flowers to bring some life to the portrait.
6. How to Create a Textured Background
Our greyscale portrait has come along nicely, so let's tie it all together with an abstract textured background.
Let's choose a proper brush first. The Charcoal brush from the Drawing Pencils set is perfect for creating a traditional-looking texture.
Create a New Layer for the background texture on top of the “background" layer. Use the Max Size of the brush and cover the background randomly as you like.
Now pick the Eraser Tool with the same Charcoal brush and clean the background area, making soft yet textured transitions.
Let’s add some more cool textures to the background, using the Pencil 4 and Pencil 7 brushes from the Artista Brushes set.
Also, let’s create some stumping effects by using the Blender/Smudger brush from the Drawing Pencils set. Now it looks as if it’s done by smearing the applied charcoal with your finger.
Finally, add some white shiny dots to the background, using the Gritty Pencil from the Drawing Pencils set.
Let’s add a couple more textures to the background to complete our piece.
First, open the Textures folder which comes with the Artista Brushes set. Choose texture 3 and drag it to your canvas. Place it on the very top of the drawing, right under the “paper" group. Rotate the texture and increase it as you like to cover the entire canvas.
Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Multiply. Reduce the Opacity to about 50%. You can play around with the Opacity until you're happy with how it looks.
In the end, use the Nice Grain brush from the Drawing Pencils as an Eraser Tool to clean the face and body areas from the texture.
Let’s repeat the previous step, using texture 6 this time.
We’ll make it light, changing the Blending Mode to Divide. Reduce the Opacity to about 30%.
Now we can merge all the layers into one.
Let’s merge the layers of the character first, starting with "details" on top and ending with "base shape" at the bottom. Just tap on the top layer, take the two layers (one finger on one, and one finger on the other), and squeeze them together.
Now, create a New Layer with a solid white background under the "background" layer. Merge all the layers (except the “paper" group) into one “grayscale image”.
7. How to Color the Image Using a Gradient Map
We already have the final image on the “grayscale image” layer. Let's duplicate it first. We’ll work with the top one.
Tap the Adjustments icon and choose the Gradient Map from the drop-down list. Pick the Blaze gradient from the Gradient Library.
Move the slider on top to the left to adjust the Saturation of the image until you get the desired result.
I ended up with 15% to make it look more natural and give a slight sienna vintage look to the image.
To add some variation in colour, let’s repeat the previous step, adjusting the Blaze gradient to 80%. This new layer will be the base color of our flowers.
Let’s create a New Layer for the flowers on top of the “gradient map flowers” layer.
First, pick the Hard Airbrush from the default Airbrushing set and choose a deep orange color.
Draw the outlines of the flowers and fill them with a solid color, dragging it from the top right into the outline shape. Make sure that your lines are completely closed. Then refine the edges using the Eraser Tool.
Using this method, fill all the floral elements, collar, and eyes with color.
Now, duplicate the “flowers" layer and drag one of them under the “gradient map flowers”. Then turn off the top “flowers" layer.
Tap the “gradient map flowers” layer and choose the Clipping Mask option from the drop-down list. As a result, we have the layer with the gradient map masked by all the "flowers" shapes.
Let's refine all the floral elements using the Eraser Tool. Give the color elements a natural look, softly erasing the edges of the shapes to fit them into the background better.
Turn on the top “flowers" layer and change the Blending Mode to Hard Light. Reduce the Opacity to about 45%.
As in the previous step, use the Eraser Tool to give a natural look to all the color elements.
Complete your drawing by adding some more details to the flowers and eyes to make them pop.
And We’re Finished!
Our traditional-looking portrait is ready! Thank you for creating and experimenting with me. Enjoy the process, and please share your result!
5 Top Procreate Brush Sets From Envato Elements
Now you know how to draw on Procreate to make a beautiful portrait. We used professional line brush Procreate kits from Envato Elements to help us along the way.
And if you use Procreate and other design software on a daily basis, Envato Elements is a fantastic option for you.
If you'd like to explore even more premium Procreate lineart brushes, here we'll review five more options.
1. Character Builder: Procreate Drawing Toolkit (ABR, BRUSHSET, AI, PDF, PROCREATE)
This Procreate line art set will speed up the sketching of your characters. It's also one of the best Procreate brushes for lineart. The complete kit includes 102 character drawing shapes, brushes, and objects for your character drawing projects.
And the best part? You can also use these line brushes for Procreate in Photoshop and Illustrator thanks to the multiple file formats included.
2. Canvas Texture Procreate Brushes (BRUSHSET)
Do you like to replicate real textures and materials on your digital drawings? This Procreate line art kit is for you. The download includes 14 high-quality brushes that replicate oils, pastels, acrylics, and more textures.
3. Procreate Dry Media Brushes (BRUSHSET)
Quickly draw any project you've got in mind with the best Procreate brush for lineart. The pack includes 21 professional brushes with a realistic grain texture. Learning how to draw on Procreate is a piece of cake with this set!
4. Paint Draw: Procreate Brushes (BRUSHSET)
Wondering how to draw hair on Procreate? This Procreate lineart brush set will help you! The kit includes 20 Procreate line art brushes for sketching, lining, blocking, and drawing hair as well. Give them a try today!
5. Hair Brushes for Procreate (BRUSHSET)
You don't have to worry about how to draw hair on Procreate with this specialized kit. This is a hair salon on your iPad. The best Procreate brush for lineart and hair includes brushes for eyebrows, lashes, beards, body hair, and more!
Discover More Procreate Tutorials and Resources
We've covered a lot in this line brush Procreate tutorial. You know how to draw on Procreate, how to draw a beautiful portrait, and how to draw hair on Procreate. If you'd like to explore even more helpful Procreate tutorials and resources, don't forget to check out these options:
- ProcreateA to Z of Procreate: Tips, Tricks, and Hacks!Kezz Bracey
- Procreate30+ Best Procreate Tutorials for Beginners and Advanced!Daisy Ein
- ProcreateHow to Install and Use Procreate BrushesDaisy Ein
- Procreate50+ Best Procreate Brushes (Download These Brush Sets Now!)Daisy Ein
- BrushesHow to Create and Customize Procreate BrushesDaisy Ein
- ProcreateHow to Blend in ProcreateAkanksha Rawat
- ProcreateHow to Animate in ProcreateAkanksha Rawat
- Procreate43 Best Procreate Fonts (Calligraphy, Tattoo, Comic, and More!)Daisy Ein
- ProcreateHow to Do Calligraphy on ProcreateDaisy Ein
- ProcreateHow to Create a Stylish Neon Portrait in ProcreateMaria Dimova