Procreate vs Adobe



  • Hi Everyone,
    I’m just beginning my illustration journey. I’m working on the foundations classes and new to adobe programs. For someone new to illustration, would you recommend procreate on the iPad or investing in learning Adobe programs? Thank you!



  • I started out my illustration journey January 2019. I have an xp pen deco 03. And used photoshop. In January 2020 I got an iPad Pro and procreate.

    The frustration I had last year was trying to draw on the tablet. Because it’s a slab of plastic and not a graphic display screen, it’s really hard to practice drawing on it. I did a lot of sketching on paper and then I’d scan it and bring it into photoshop and then try to figure out how to separate the line layer out. I never really figured it out properly lol. But I was in an early learning stage so there’s just so much stuff at first it’s overwhelming I think no matter what you get to start with. The tablet and photoshop were much cheaper than an IPad.

    But if I had my time back, I would get an iPad from the start. It’s just so much easier to draw on and so intuitive. I can sit on the couch in the evenings and draw and take it when my kids go visit family. However, I do miss certain features in the procreate program that I like in photoshop eg gradients, selective Color, a few more things.

    What I’m doing now is drawing a lot in procreate! And I love it. My skills are improving every day. I typically do a lot of the painting in procreate too and then I switch the file over to photoshop 90% of the time and finish it there. Apparently there is an issue switching over from rob to Ceylon for printing and some adjustment in the colours between the programs. I don’t print my stuff much yet so it’s not something I’ve really figured out. I’m not overly techie inclined but sometimes there’s a discrepancy between what I see on the amazing iPad display and then on a regular screen which is why I take it into photoshop to fix it up.

    Anyhow long rant lol. Personally I’d get the i-ad as a newbie if you can afford it and are really committed to learning skills . Otherwise a tablet and scan in drawings ( my scanner also died last fall lol so it was added stress!0. Loving my IPad! I also have a good case, Can’t remember what it’s called atm 😂, when I have a brainwave on that I can let you know lol.



  • Hi @Grace-Cook, I only have an iPad and procreate, though I’m still a beginner. I hope I don’t have to learn photoshop, but perhaps I’m delaying the inevitable...



  • @Grace-Cook Excellent question and a great time to be asking!

    If it's an option, my recommendation would be to start with Procreate on the iPad Pro, and learn specific tricks in Photoshop down the road (if you ever truly need them).

    I was an Adobe user (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) for nearly 20 years. The reality is that Photoshop is an absolutely huge piece of software and its original intent was not digital illustration. That makes it tough for new users to get used to—95% of it is stuff you won't ever need and will probably slow you down.

    Based on the course material I've sampled so far at SVS, including the foundations courses, I don't see why a Procreate setup would impede you. If anything, it might shorten the distance between learning a new concept and applying it to the canvas, which seems especially key early on.

    As you progress in your learning you may notice things you wish you could do. At that point you can always research photoshop tutorials for specific effects, filters, post-processing, blend modes, and so on. Photoshop itself is about $11/month, and you can export Procreate files as PSD to enhance them if you ever feel like you need to.

    The industry (and its software) will continually evolve and, while I doubt Adobe is going anywhere anytime soon, it's become clear to me that their way of doing things is probably not the future.

    Two other things I'm curious about but haven't really dug into yet are Affinity Designer, which could be an interesting (cheaper and vector-based) Photoshop alternative, and the Sketchboard Pro, which claims to make drawing on the iPad more ergonomic and paper-like, and I can honestly see why.

    Good luck and happy learning!



  • Hi grace!
    I originally started using photoshop to edit my illustrations that I had scanned in as I liked the mixed media look. However in the end I found this to be a long process which made me lose enthusiasm for my work.

    Then I tried out using a tablet to draw on photoshop which was easier than a mouse although I found it really awkward to draw and look up at the screen, it was very unconnected. So that was when I eventually got the ipad pro and procreate which is amazing and I felt like everything was easier!!

    Although now I must say it can sometimes be overwhelming to choose brushes/ style/ look you are going for when there are so many endless options of brushes and colours digitally... that's why I think it is good to start with traditional media so you can find what you enjoy and then you can always go on to recreate that on procreate! I think its good to know some of the photoshop basics as you might need to format your illustrations at some point, i.e I found you can't really do precise bleeds and measurements on procreate. Also you can save your procreate files as photoshop files too which is handy.... Another example would be if you wanted to resize an illustration, because procreate just seems to make images blurry if you try to enlarge or shrink them! So for example recently I wanted to make images the right size for Instagram and I did that by creating a template on photoshop and dragging my procreate JPEG into it. 🙂

    I suppose we just tend to find ways that work for us and will suit everyone differently! There's some really handy videos on Youtube that show you all the shortcuts and less obvious things on Procreate.



  • Thank you everyone!! I really appreciate everyone taking the time to answer my questions I’m excited to try iPad procreate and I think I will still continue learning Photoshop and the basics that I may need for that, but I am definitely still in the beginning skills of my journey and just working on drawing and figuring out color theory and painting first but also would love to try procreate!


  • SVS OG

    @Grace-Cook hi you don’t really need those programs when starting out. A good pencil and paper is all you need. But if I have to throw my hat in, I’d say go with procreate. It’s a very simple app that focuses on drawing without the unneeded bells and whistles of Adobe.



  • @Grace-Cook If your primary device for art is the iPad, then definitely Procreate is the way to go. What I didn't see what was your current setup was. Could you give us an idea of what that looks like at present?

    I agree with @Coley and I found that the iPad was far more intuitive than Photoshop on the desktop, and this is coming off of 15 years of using Photoshop as a graphic designer professionally.

    I will be very honest in that I am very much struggling with this very thing. I hear all these pro artists say things like "Photoshop is the industry standard" and while that's true it is the industry standard, it feels as least to me to be inferior in terms of painting response. But then again there are incredible artists using Procreate, Clip Studio Paint and Painter on a professional level. So it's hard to tell - does it all just end up being preference?

    Sometimes I do feel that things that I paint in Procreate need to be adjusted, cropped and color corrected. But frankly Affinity Photo is just as good as Photoshop for that. So you could potentially spend $50 outright for that piece of software, which is amazing and cross platform, and use it as your finishing point.

    I'm running an XP-Pen 16" right now, and while I do like it, it's just not nearly as responsive as the iPad and I feel like I fight Photoshop to get it to do what I want. Maybe a Cintiq gives enough responsiveness to match the Apple Pencil? Honestly I don't know. I wish I could spend a day using one to see if that were true or not.

    The conclusion I've personally come to is either I need to upgrade to an iPad Pro and ditch using Photoshop as a painting medium and use it a finisher/corrector OR go full in and get a Cintiq 22 or 24 Pro. @StudioLooong says she uses the Kamvas Pro 24 and it's really good, but I think that one is still upwards of $900. So I think either way you shake it, you're looking to make a serious investment to get the tools that won't fight you.



  • @jdubz I have the Kamvas pro 22, and Huion runs some great sales around the beginning of the school year so you can pick it up for a little cheaper if you don’t mind waiting!

    But if @Grace-Cook has an iPad and procreate there’s no reason to double down, just use that! Tools are tools, you’ve got one that will work so just focus on making your art the best it can be. Also, if you really want to learn photoshop, they have a version for iPad now!



  • @StudioLooong Thanks thats good to know! I'm kind of making myself crazy being on the fence on what to finally do!



  • Hi Grace! I asked myself a similar question a while back, and it ultimately came down to how I like to draw. I spend most of my day sitting in front of a computer, so when I sit down to draw, I like the freedom to move wherever I'd like--which is why I went the iPad/Procreate route instead of the tablet/Adobe route.

    What I've heard from professional artists, is that Photoshop will give you the most professional results. But Procreate is still good and would certainly be good enough while you're working on your foundations (and without the monthly Adobe payments). I've also heard good things about Affinity Photo and Infinite Painter (iPad apps that are currently about the same price as Procreate), so you might want to check those out too.



  • Procreate is marvelous and you can always add Adobe Fresco to your iPad I think - it's a plain vanilla version of PS. The only thing I would say is that further down the line when you are working for publications or books you will find PSD on a big screen with a tablet gives you much more control and reach plus the ability to adjust for print specs in more detail. I hope I am right in saying that - I certainly use both Procreate and PSD - for publication of illos I always export my Procreate work in PSD format and crawl over it tidying up and fussing with effects and colour etc. You'll enjoy Procreate for sure and could hold off on the significant - and unending! - investment in PS for a while.



  • I just want to add a plus one for the iPad and procreate, the learning curve is much quicker and it's just so easy to use. Ipad also had the affinity photo a once-off cost of like $50 which has just as many features as photoshop. So you can export you artwork from procreate and open up and edit in affinity photo all on the iPad.



  • Howdy Grace.

    Being a graphic designer and art director for most of my career, I've got years of experience with Adobe Photoshop (but not with a pen). I have to say, I love Photoshop, but not for the purpose of digital sketching. Instead, I love the simplicity of Procreate on my iPad. Sure, it's not as robust like Photoshop, but it has enough to keep your work process streamlined.

    Also, for me, it's also hard to see Photoshop as a different tool than what I use for photo manipulation—to actually use brushes for more than retouching, etc.

    My only hope is that I get as proficient with all the functionality of Procreate.

    I also like that, after paying for the App, Procreate is much cheaper than an Adobe subscription. I don't like that you need to be a subscriber to work in Adobe products. I only wish there was a desktop option of Procreate.

    Working on an iPad is another story. I love how portable (like a sketchpad) they are. However, the screen is slick so you don't get that paper-like feel, unless you invest in a really good screen saver. I've got a cheap one that works, but still isn't the same. I've never used a Wacom tablet, so I can't compare. That's the next big investment in my digital art journey.

    Back to your question as to investing and learning Adobe programs. The good news about Procreate, is that some of the basic functions of Photoshop are built into the App - mostly layers, color editing, masking and exporting. If you have an iPad (doesn't have to be a Pro), it's a cheap entry into digital illustration, with a much lower learning curve than Photoshop. That makes the transition into Adobe is a bit smoother.



  • @jdubz just got an email that the Kamvas 22 is on sale for $399 US!



  • @Grace-Cook - I'd say it really depends on your budget and your dedication / goals. You can learn a lot with just a pencil & paper!

    That being said, I have an iPad & Apple Pencil and I love them!

    Since it sounds like you aren't sure what you want to do, see if your local library has an iPad or other tablet you can borrow, or if they have computers with Photoshop. Don't forget to check with all of the libraries you have access to. You could also ask around to see if you have a friend that will let you try theirs out. If you're a student, your school may have a computer lab with Photoshop. You might have to look for an arts / photography / graphic design computer lab—at my old school, there was a lab for the Graphic Communication students, but other students could use it, if it wasn't too busy.

    I think Photoshop & Procreate are both very intuitive. I'm pretty good at picking up computer programs though, so that could vary from person to person. I started out on Photoshop editing photos for a photography class (before iPads existed!) & have taken college classes specifically for Photoshop & other Adobe programs. You probably know there are a lot of tutorials online for both Adobe programs & Procreate (and other similar programs). I think formal classes and online tutorials are both good ways to learn. If you like classroom learning, you could see if your community college has classes.

    Another thing to check out is free or less expensive image editing programs. I've used GIMP—which is similar to Photoshop, & it's worked well for me. (It's free and it can export as psd, pdf, jpg, etc.) I also just got the Affinity programs and I like them so far. I love Adobe programs, but I just don't want another subscription! Affinity is so much less expensive, and I like some of the features, so I wanted to give it a try.

    Good luck with your research and decisions!



  • @kritmo
    I recently bought all of the Affinity programs (I got them on sale!) & I really like them so far. I've used Photoshop & Illustrator in the past—not to the extent you have—but as far as my experience and knowledge goes, Affinity is very similar to Adobe programs. I have run into one or two things that have been different (and therefore frustrating), such as: you can't just flip a selection—you have to copy & paste it as a separate layer first. And having to switch to the selection mode (or whatever it's called). But I think it's mainly just getting used to the program & tools.

    I wouldn't really say Affinity Designer is a Photoshop alternative. The Affinity programs seem to align with Adobe's, so Affinity Photo is most like Photoshop, & Affinity Designer is more like Illustrator (and Affinity Publisher is similar to InDesign). (But maybe that's what you meant?) Something that looks very cool in Affinity Designer that does make it a little more like Photoshop, though—is you can apply raster effects on your vector graphics. So if you like to work in vector, and you're into effects like textures, this is very exciting.

    The Sketchboard Pro does look pretty nice. If you get it, let us know what you think!



  • @Geoffrey-Gordon
    Affinity Photo is $50 for Mac / PC, & $20 for iPad.
    (You can get a free trial for the Mac / PC version.)



  • @StudioLooong Thanks for the heads up! This looks like a new product and that price is good until August. It's actually a fully laminated screen, which is insane for that price point. I'm going into what my wife calls "research mode" lol



  • @jdubz Yeah their newer gen pen has tilt sensing technology too which I know was the biggest difference between a kamvas and a cintique before, they're trying to give wacom a run for their money.


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