Procreate 4.2 Tutorial – Layers Interface

If you’ve been working digitally, the concept of layers should be familiar with you. Layers allow us to be more efficient in our workflow. Understanding how layers work and being able to mange them quickly is a great way to speed up your process and improve the quality of your work.

For those of you who are unfamiliar to the concept of layers. imagine them as pieces of transparent paper stacked on top of each other. Painting on top of a layer will cover whatever’s painted below that layer.

Add new layer

Press the + sign a the top right to add layers. The new layer will be added to the currently selected layer.

Move layers

Move layers simply by holding on the desired layer and move it to the position you want. You can also select multiple layers and move them at the same time

Hide layer

There is a check box on the right of each layer.

Tick it to show the layer, untick it to hide a layer. You can’t draw on a hidden layer.


Select multiple layers by swiping right on the layers. You will then be able to use the Selection and Transfer tools on these layers.

Group the selected layers by pressing the group sign on the top right. You can select groups too.

When more than one layer is selected, you won’t be able to use paint, erase, smudge, adjustments and filters.

Layer mode

On the left of the checkbox, there is a letter which represents what colouring mode you are on. Tap on it to change layer opacity and blending mode. I will make a more detailed post all about blending modes in the future.

Opacity shortcut: tap with 2 fingers on a layer and slide left/right on the canvas.

Tap on layer to:

rename: change the name of a layer for better organisation.

select: select all content in that layer.

copy: Copy the content of the selected layer to save the image to iPad’s clipboard.

fill layer: fill the layer with the current colour.

clear: erase all content in the selected layer.

alpha lock/ swipe right with 2 fingers: when activated, you can only paint of areas that are already painted. It locks the transparency as well.

mask: creates a new layer on top of the selected layer. It allows you to edit without editing straight on the main layer more details in the future

clipping Mask: when activated, the selected layer will be clipped to the layer below, this can be seen on the left side of the selected layer with an arrow pointing down. You can now only paint on areas that are pained on the layer below. More details on this in the future.

invert: invert the colours on the selected layer to its complementary.

reference: Allows you to colour drop into areas enclosed by lines or shapes. Colour dropping without a reference layer fills all the unpainted areas on the selected layer with the colour.

merge down. merge the current layer with the layer below it. You can also use 2 fingers to pinch together the layers you’d like to merge.

combine down: groups the current layer with the layer below it into a new group. You can also combine groups.

Swipe left on a layer to

Lock or unlock a layer: locking a layer prevents you from editing that layer by accident.

Duplicate a layer

Delete a layer

Background layer

Tap on the background layer to open up the colour interface, it looks similar to the colour interface I talked about in the previous tutorial.

Change colour of the background layer with any 1 of the 4 colour interfaces I talked about in the previous tutorial.

Hide the background by unchecking the box on the right of the layer if you wish to export your artwork in PNG format.


So these are what you can do with the layers interface. They may seem like a lot, but they are intuitive to learn. By understanding and mastering how layers work, it will give you more options and solutions to your digital painting needs.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and learnt something new.

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Try out the Apple Pencil to bring your creative process to the next level on the Procreate App!

These artist gloves for digital painting are a must for me when I paint on the iPad, when I don’t wear the gloves, sometimes the Procreate app sense my palm resting on the screen as 2 fingers tapping and holding and start undoing! Or sometimes it starts colour picking. I’ve tried the different palm support options but I still get the problem sometimes.  If you’re having these kinds of problems as well, the gloves may be your solution, it makes you feel and look more professional too!

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