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Procreate - A Quick Look at a New and Unique iPad Painting App

Savage Interactive (SI) are making big claims about their new iPad illustration and painting app Procreate. We take a quick look at what the app does differently and offer our first impressions of its performance.

Artistic content creators have a whole raft of choices nowadays for the iPad but Procreate offers some unique features that the Developers believe will set it apart from these other apps, which is quite some claim given the following that apps like Brushes, SketchBook Pro, ArtStudio and ArtRage have already.

Here is what SI says about the app in their Press Release:

Procreate might just be the most exciting digital painting app on a mobile device. We've taken desktop performance, added professional features and squeezed it all into an iPad.

Blend colours on the iPad like never before. Procreate uses 64-bit colour sampling to mix paint together effortlessly, in a way that's familiar to traditional illustrators. The smudge tool has been finely tuned to react differently by adjusting the precision pressure slider-the more pressure you choose, the more colour will be pushed around.

Users will feel at home with a familiar (HSB) colour picker, eyedropper, and a smudge tool that goes beyond its desktop counterparts. On top of all this, you'll find comfort in a layering system that allows up to 16 layers, the ability to merge down and up, transform, and show/hide. Another feature we're proud to boast about is up to 100 undo or redo states. That's right. 100. Let your imagination go, knowing there's always a backup plan.

Inventing the Wheel

What really interested us about the Procreate app is that the small, four person, development team have created their own painting engine they call Silica. This is the secret to Procreate's amazing performance on the iPad.

Discussing this in a blog post and the year it took to develop a non-CPU reliant engine, SI said:

...the result is Silica, the Si painting engine written completely in OpenGL ES 2.0. And because Silica is created entirely in OpenGL ES, the performance is just astounding. Procreate can paint and push around a huge amount of pixels at a constant 60fps. Thats better than most desktop painting apps.

First Impressions - Super Snappy

We have had a quick play with Procreate today and our first impressions are good. It is really very responsive, with little to none of the horrendous lag shown by some apps on the original iPad (yes Art Rage, we mean you). The 16 layers are useful and easy to work with, merging up or down frees up layers and everything works quickly so that you can see immediately the effect of adding, hiding or reordering your layers.

Like the Paint tool, the Smudge tool is effective, infinitely variable and again very snappy. Procreate is probably one of the most responsive painting apps we have seen on the iPad. We still have the original iPad too.

Custom Brushes

Creating your own brushes is where real depth to the app lies though, we think this is something that will provide some of the most creative possibilities, especially as you spend more time and experiment with Procreate.

Brushes can be fine tuned to exact parameters, any image can be imported to define either the Shape or Grain of a brush, which when you think about it offers enormous creative potential.

Another great feature is that a brush is shared between the three main tools once created, so you make a new brush under the Smudge tool for instance and see it immediately in the Eraser and Paint tools too, a seemingly obvious but previously missing feature from most iPad art apps.

Input Options

We have tried Procreate with a stylus and had no problems at all, in fact it seemed to work better than using our built in digits but that will always be a personal preference thing. We hope to try it out with the Nomad Brush as well soon and will let you know how that goes as soon as we can.

Time to Buy

Procreate is available now at an introductory price of $7.99 (£4.99) in the App Store but if you want to find out more about the numerous other features we haven't mentioned here, before buying, there is a lot of information on Savage Interactive's website including a nicely presented PDF user guide which we found really useful to get us going with the app.

To see what can be done with Procreate take a look at the video below from SI showing artist Will Robinson at work with the app:

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References (9)

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Reader Comments (17)

I received Procreate today and 10 minutes of playing and experimenting with the various tools and features and its obvious this development team have got a cracking app. They seem to have answered many of the issues all iPad artists have previously mentioned on other apps and they've done so in a very slick way. I'm looking forward to digging further into the app and its tools and seeing where the boundaries are and what can be achieved with it.

March 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShaun Mullen

This looks like a really great app. Unfortunately, I'm no graphic artist! But my sister is so I may get it for her to have a play on my new iPad 2, assuming I'm able to get one tomorrow! (UK)

I thought I would also mention the following:
I was wondering if this would work on the iPad 2, since the website says 'iPad 2 support soon'.
I clicked on the support link and read through the responses to the app crashing on the iPad 2 (but not the iPad 1), and I was amazed at the amount of work and effort they put into fixing this bug in record time - even going so far as to fly 1000km to get hold of an iPad 2 to test the problem and add another 100 lines of code to send to Apple!!! That kind of dedication speaks volume about the quality of the app and support.

Here is the link in case you'd like to read the brief account:

March 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterICT Tower

I'm an illustrator avidly in search of the perfect iPad paint app, & this one really has me hopeful. After about half an hour of exploration I've found it has several features I like a LOT: the speed, the tweakability & cross-tool applicability of the brushes, instant access to tool size & transparency (the latter slightly misleadingly termed pressure-- unless I'm missing something there) the many layer possibilities, the auto saves. What I've yet to discover is whether one can taper the brushstroke-- if so I haven't figured out how, & I sure would like to! Any tips out there?

March 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurious Art

Hi ICT Tower - we did read about that on their blog, the turnaround time on the update was very impressive and as you said shows their level of commitment. We definitely think this is one to watch.

March 24, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

Hi Shaun - thanks for your comment, we would be interested to know what you think of Procreate after you have given it a full work out.

March 24, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

@Curious Art
I suggest you post a question on their support system, like I said, they seem very supportive and quick to respond.

March 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterICT Tower

Got this app today - love it!! Currently working on a painting of my kitten... twitpic.com/4d0lky

March 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOlechka

Hi Curious Art - Not sure if it is the control you want, but each brush in Procreate has a speed control which by default affects Opacity but can be set to control size (2nd slider under Speed). We used this to shape the brush dependent on speed of stroke, you can see a preview of the effect in the brush shape at the top of the drop down menu.

Thank you for your comments.

March 25, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

You had me at "responsive". Downloading to my iPad as I type this.

March 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMikeyGorman

Procreate is now free of charge (on the UK App Store at least).

Just a heads up.

April 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLee Baines

@Lee Baines
Blimey! Fantastic offer! Thanks for the heads up, am installing now.

April 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterICT Tower

@Lee Baines @ICTTower It was a great deal and we hope it gained them a lot of happy customers because they deserve it, but did you read why they decided to do it? That's very worrying, at least Apple is investigating.

April 5, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

@iPad Creative
Sorro for delay, I didn't hear why they did so, can you point me to a link that explains why? Am now curious.

April 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterICT Tower

What kind of stylus is Will using on the IPad?
I purchased the app and it is beyond cool!

May 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTalon

@Talon - It looks like the Pogo Sketch stylus, but any of the main named brand ones should work fine, we use a Boxwave cheapy from Amazon (same as the Griffin one) with Procreate and it works just fine.

May 4, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

@iPad Creative
Thank you so much for the quick response and for the info.

May 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTalon
Is there a way to change the order of the layers? I've started several paintings and then realize it would be cool if I could paint behind what I've already started, but many hours of playing around with the app have revealed no such function. Am I missing something?
July 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDoodler

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