Photoshop vs Procreate for Digital Painting

Itching to know what it's like to switch from a Wacom tablet with Photoshop to an iPad Pro with Procreate?

I’m shaking things up in a big way today! 

In all of my tutorials and course modules so far, I’ve been teaching you using Photoshop on a Wacom tablet with a MacBook.  I’ve been dying to try out Procreate on an iPad Pro, so I can give you tips and tricks using those tools.  And today, I’m bringing you along as I get started!

In this video, I unbox my new 12.9 inch iPad Pro, and give you my first impression of the Procreate app. 

While working on the same illustration using the same process on both setups, I give you my thoughts on:

  • What it’s like to work on an iPad after years of using a Wacom tablet and MacBook.
  • What are the big differences between the 2 hardware setups
  • Comparing the feel of the Wacom pen vs the Apple pen
  • The plusses and minuses I’ve experienced using Photoshop vs Procreate 
  • The biggest difficulties I’ve seen as a professional artist working on the iPad
  • Is the Procreate app powerful enough for professional work as an illustrator?
Photoshop vs Procreate - Digital Painting - Paintable

Let’s get into it!

If you’re getting started with Procreate, rather than starting with a portrait like I did, I recommend starting with a smaller illustration like in the Ultimate Beginners Guide here

And if you’d like to set up your workspace like mine, here’s what I’m using:

I’d love to hear your first impressions of Procreate!  What did you find most difficult to get used to, and what are your favorite tips for using it?  Put it in the comments below!

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20 thoughts on “Photoshop vs Procreate for Digital Painting”

  1. You used an Apple pencil have you tried other pencils, what make Apple pencils better?

    What about set up for the procreate software, was there one?

  2. Hey Mario, no I didn’t try another pen on this iPad. But the previous iPad I use to have I did try another and boy oh boy do I prefer the Apple pen. It’s worth the extra $$$ in my opinion. For my setup, not sure what you mean. I didn’t change anything about my procreate setup, I used it as is.

  3. I suffered the same transition from a regular wacom to a screen-tablet Huion. I suddenly felt my hand was on the way. It was a very esoteric feeling I tell you! haha
    Thanks for your review, gives me more confidence on buying an iPad myself.

    • Hi, Sindos! Funny how that happens, eh? 😉 We’re confident that you’d love the iPad and procreate for lots of reasons, so we’re glad to hear that you’ve got more confidence in taking the plunge (cos we know that can be kinda scary)! Good luck! <3

  4. Hey David!

    This was such a joy to watch. I have both a cintique that I have had for 4 years, and I got myself an Ipad pro with procreateas soon as it launched. For me, sadly after using Procreate on the Ipad, the cintique just did not do it for me anymore and everytime I try to draw on it I just cant do it haha. I had such a fast improvement on the ipad vs the cintique. I did have a fast curve from tablet to cintique as well, but the ipad and procreate was just a perfect fit for me 🙂

    I was amazed to see that the same thing happened with you as with me, you understood the software with the snap of your fingers, and sure you do need a few days to get used to it. I had too, but when my brain finally clicked it became my main tool for drawing =) (And the fact that I can sit in my sofa and watch series and doodle at the same time like I used to when I was 14 doing traditional art, just gave me so much joy!) But the fact that you used 10 hours va 5-6, in a new software. Honestly an overall of 4 hours more to learn new shortcuts and tools and how to use em is in the big picture not really that long! And the results were very similar =)

    I started the Illustration from imagination class last session you had, and I wanted to use the procreate while doing it to learn both the software and get better at my own skills- buuuuuuuuuut I kinda flunked out a bit due to real life things happening and a fulltime job as an Animator/Illustrator that I just never got back into it. Also using Photoshop classes with Procreate also was a bit weird. So my hopes for the future is that there will be some tips and tricks videos from you on how to do shading, blending and smart tricks to get things done in procreate as well ^_^ Maybe a single class on how to just for procreate and maybe how to incoporate Photoshop tricks into Procreate ones?..! 🙂

    But thanks again for this video! Love to follow you and see what all your students do in a short amount of time, and hope I will finally be one of them in the future! Keep it up 😀 You are an inspiration for me

    Best wishes from Renate @renmeydesign

    • Hi, Renate! We’re so glad that you love the iPad and Procreate so much- I really resonate with you mentioning that feeling of drawing like you used to on the couch when you were younger. It’s such a great nostalgic feeling that we get to relive with this awesome tool. 🙂

      Regarding Illustration From Imagination, there’s no way to really “flunk” out! It should now be yours for life if you ever wanted to return to it! 😉 If you’re looking for assistance there, please feel free to reach out to us at the [email protected] email and we’d love to help you out!

      Overall, thanks so much for your awesome post, and we’d love to see you around Paintable in the future! Lots of joy to you! :DDD

  5. Questions David.

    In a lot of your tutorial videos using photoshop, you group things and add a group mask on top of them. An excellent feature in Photoshop. This is not possible yet in procreate (I don’t think). How did you combat this? My approach is usually to create a group, and then at the bottom most layer have a layer that is just an inking (usually white, or the base color of the thing i am painting). Then every layer I create on top of that, just use a clipping mask on that base layer. What do you think?

    Also…In many of your videos, you create a new layer and smudge on that empty layer. Photoshop is strong enough to smudge things under it, so you don’t need to be on a layer(s) that has pixels. Procreate cannot do this yet. So it seems you would have to take a more destructive approach and smudge directly on the layer you are trying to influence. Thoughts?

    • Hey Tim, I’d say that you have found a great way to go around the mask in Procreate . For the smudge tool issue, I would duplicate all the layers then merge them and smudge on that new merged layer. This way you can go back if needed. I hope this helps

  6. I can second David’s opinion that the Apple Pencil is a great way to go. I was using a Wacom Bluetooth stylus before, but after replacing the first one for having issues (started randomly dropping connection A LOT), and then upgrading to an iPad pro (which didn’t support my model of stylus) I switched. I found the performance equal to any Wacom stylus I’ve used, and it has performed flawlessly for a few years without even requiring a new tip.
    Procreate also has a great online community on their forums, with both company reps and fellow artists offering plenty of support for fellow artists. You can probably get any setup questions answered there.
    I absolutely LOVE Procreate for its ease of use, and clean interface, with the tools easy to access and adjust once you learn your way around. I found it had a vastly shorter learning curve than Photoshop.

    • Hi, Dave! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Procreate with us! It sounds like you really found your stride with it, and are flourishing- well done! <3

  7. There is any way yo setup the smudge tool in photoshop to get same results as in procreate? I love to watch peoplr usong this tool in procreate but O cannot get same result in photoshop 🙂

    • Hi, Nymeria! If you’re looking to smudge something in Procreate with a certain brush, what you can do is double tap the icon for the smudge and choose a brush from there (as well as edit the settings). Hope this helps!

  8. Hi David
    Thanks for this video! I am taking your digital course, it is great, learning a lot!
    I have a couple of questions if you do not mind:
    1) Could you add a session on the course so we can apply the same techniques your are teaching in Photoshop but in Procreate? It would be great to draw in our tablets with Procreate using the same/similar tools.
    2) Have you tried Photoshop for iPad? Is it at the same level that Procreate or it is still well behind and is worth it to learn procreate instead?
    Many thanks!!

    • Hi, Mauricio!
      We’re glad to hear that you’re getting a lot out of the Academy! 😀
      Regarding Procreate lessons, I’ll definitely pass on that feedback! As for Photoshop on iPad, it is a different software of course and will have its own quirks. The biggest complaints from those that use it are crashing issues, or brush reactivity, but otherwise it is a simple, “lite” Photoshop tailored towards the iPad market, but won’t be what you’re looking for if you’re used to traditional Photoshop. Procreate is much smoother and more refined, with many plusses and updates fairly consistently. At the end of the day, though, it is all preference! Hope that helps!

  9. Loved this video and agree with it. I’ve been using photoshop for years, and still use it but what I love about procreate is the ability to be more mobile. My husband used to get mad at me for always being at my desk drawing straight into the evening. But now I can doodle on the couch while we watch sports or listen to music together. I use photoshop primarily for my work day and then procreate and the iPad is my unwind, doodle art just for me in my spare time 🙂

    • Hi, Becky! We’re so glad to hear that Procreate is something that’s made your day-to-day more enjoyable- we love the mobility of it, too! 🙂

  10. I understand you guys use Photoshop to teach, so if I’m learning with Procreate, how much of what you teach with Photoshop can be applied to Procreate?
    What are the similar Photoshop functions that can found in Procreate?
    What Photoshop functions not found in Procreate that I should be aware of?


  11. I’d definitely suggest getting a matte screen protector, it gives the screen a paper feel that is much nicer to draw on. There’s one called Paperlike but it’s horribly overpriced, I got a very cheap one (£4 for 2) on Amazon.


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