Author: Liz Kohler Brown

What Are Vectors and Do You Need to Use Them?

What Are Vectors and Do You Need to Use Them?

If you just started drawing and designing on your iPad, you may have heard that you need to “vectorize” your drawings or that you need to learn how to use vectors to be a professional designer. In this post I want to dispel some of 

Design a Pattern Collection on Your iPad

Design a Pattern Collection on Your iPad

In this class, you’ll learn how to design a pattern collection on your iPad.  I’ll show you options for making your repeat elements in both Procreate and Affinity designer, so you can choose which option works best for you! When you watch this class, you’ll 

3 Ways to Improve Your iPad Lettering + A Free 70s Lettering Practice Sheet

3 Ways to Improve Your iPad Lettering + A Free 70s Lettering Practice Sheet

Hand lettering is one of the most important skills that artists and designers in the digital age can learn. While, of course, we can easily type out letters with a font, a lot of companies and buyers prefer the handmade look of hand lettering. It seems that as creating digital letters gets easier and cheaper, hand drawn letters gain more and more value in the design world!

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That being said, hand lettering isn’t easy for beginners. There are a lot of tips and tricks to learn (and a lot of mistakes to be made along the way). I want to share my top 3 tips for improving your hand lettering, so that if you’re just starting out on your lettering journey, you can start identifying your weaknesses and working to fix them!

I share all of my lettering tips in my book on iPad Lettering in Procreate, so if you like these tips and want to learn more, check out the book:

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Tip #1: Check Your Spacing

A common, and easy to make, mistake in hand lettering is inconsistent spacing. When you first start lettering, it’s challenging to space your letters correctly on the first try, so using the freehand selection tool in Procreate to adjust your spacing is a must! Here is a tip to check your spacing (this works on both script and print lettering):

1) Create a new layer and draw a little box that is the size of the space you want to use (it should be about half the size of a letter like o).

2) Duplicate that layer multiple times and place each one in between the letters. You can see in the examples blow how inconsistent the second example is compared to the first!

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Tip #2: Choose Your Parent Shapes, and Stick With Them

“Parent shapes” are the shapes that make up an alphabet. There are only five of them, which makes deciding how to form your letters as easy as choosing five shapes! Whether you are lettering one short word, or a whole paragraph, your parent shapes should match up.

Parent shapes come in all shapes and sizes, so don’t feel like you have to use the exact shapes I’ve used below. For example, o-shapes can be wide and rounded, skinny and angled, or sharp ovals.

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Note: Not all alphabets adhere perfectly to this chart, so think of these as general guidelines rather than hard and fast rules.

When parent shapes don’t match up, the viewer can see that the letters don’t look quite right, but they may not know why. Here’s an easy way to check your parent shapes:

1) Draw one parent shape (like the o for example) on a new layer in a bright color.

2) Duplicate the shape multiple times, and place each one on the corresponding shape for each letter (use the chart above for reference). If you do this process and some of your o-shaped letters are too small, too big, or angled in a different way, then adjust them to match up to your original parent shape.

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3) Repeat the process with each parent shape until your words are consistent.

Tip #3: Study Vintage Letter Styles

The best way to learn new letter styles and improve your lettering is to practice, practice, practice (did I mention practice?). There are so many gorgeous scripts in the creative commons (aka over 100 years old and without an active copyright) to learn from and translate into modern styles.

I want to share one of my current favorites, a 70s inspired script I created, as a free practice sheet below. Here’s the composition I’ll be creating with this script:

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Here’s how to use the practice sheet:

1) Open the practice sheet in Procreate and make all layers except the Skeleton Stroke and Guides invisible so you can easily see the stroke.

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Click on the button above, then choose Procreate as the app to open the file.
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2) Re-raw the skeleton stroke on the line below each letter.

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3) Add the thickener stroke to your letters.

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4) Once you feel comfortable with the letter forms, it’s time to create a lettering composition! Create a rough sketch of the words you want to letter on a new canvas. You can start with a single word (beginners, do this!), or multiple words. You can even include some block or serif lettering to compliment the script.

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5) Pull up the practice sheet in split screen and use the practice sheet to draw your Skeleton Stroke for each letter.

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6) Add in the Thickener Stroke (in gold) using the practice sheet as a guide.

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7) Ink your letters (in black, so you can easily see any errors).

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8) Add color, texture, and illustrations, or whatever fits your personal style!

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Click on the button above, then choose Procreate as the app to open the file.

I share lots of tips like these in my new book on iPad lettering and my new class on 70s Lettering in Procreate. Check them out to dive deeper into hand lettering!

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70s Lettering in Procreate

70s Lettering in Procreate

70s style is back! I’ve been seeing 70s colors, designs, and lettering all over the design world lately, so I knew it was time to dive into this style to figure out what elements make it unique and eye catching. In my newest class you’ll 

Should You Get a Paperlike iPad Screen Protector?

Should You Get a Paperlike iPad Screen Protector?

I finally broke down and bought a Paperlike iPad screen protector, partly because people kept asking me if I’d tried it, and partly because I was tired of my hand slipping when I tried to do fine linework or smooth lettering! I want to give 

Limited Color Palettes and Illustrations in Procreate

Limited Color Palettes and Illustrations in Procreate

In this class, you’ll learn how to create limited color illustrations and palettes on your iPad in Procreate.  We’ll cover every step of the process from building new palettes to creating illustrations that are ideal for limited palettes.

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We’ll look at how to use the powerful color harmony tools in Procreate to take the guesswork out of making palettes.  When you take the class you’ll get the limited color palette workbook I created that helps you build your own palettes from the ground up. 

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You’ll also get the illustration brush set I created with lots of textures and stamps to help you build limited palette illustrations.

First we’ll create several sets of color palettes so you have plenty of colors to work with throughout the class.  Then we’ll create a simple illustration and apply one of the palettes to the drawing.  You’ll see how even a monochrome color palette can create an interesting illustration that stands out online.

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Next we’ll combine hands in various poses with other objects to create an illustration.  I’ll share my hand sketches with you as free downloads so you don’t have to start from scratch.  I’ll give you lots of ideas for objects to combine with your hands to create interesting illustrations that invite your viewers to spend more time looking at and thinking about your work.

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Last, we’ll juxtapose two or more objects to create a theme or story in an illustration.  We’ll apply some of our limited color palettes to the drawing to come up with a few possible color versions so you have lots of options to choose from.

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If you struggle with choosing colors for your illustrations or just wish you had more palettes to choose from, this class will show you everything you need to know to start building a palette library full of beautiful color sets.

I created a limited color palette drawing challenge that you’ll learn about at the end of the class.  The challenge will help you build a cohesive set of drawings to share on social media or in your portfolio.  See the challenge entries here.

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All you need to take this class is your iPad and a stylus.  I’ll be using the Apple Pencil, but you could use any stylus, or even your finger.  Check out the class trailer to get started:

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Not ready to watch it now? Hover on the image below to Pin It for later:

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Free Creative Goals Workbook

Free Creative Goals Workbook

As you start creating art and designs, and getting excited about the possibility of a creative career (or hobby!), you may ask yourself, “What’s next?”. Should I open an Etsy shop? Should I start selling my work on print on demand sites? Should I start 

Ink Illustration Techniques in Procreate

Ink Illustration Techniques in Procreate

In this class, you’ll learn three different ways to use ink lines and dots to add shadow, highlights, and depth to your work.  We’ll look at tons of tips and tricks for hatching, crosshatching, and stippling, and talk about how to add bold color to 

How To Create Any Brush in Procreate

How To Create Any Brush in Procreate

I get so many questions about how I create Procreate my brushes, I thought it would be a great time for a brush making post. I’ve pulled together all my brush making tips and tutorials so you have them all in one place!

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Why would you make your own brushes?

Obviously, it’s fun to make your own brushes, but what about the real-life applications? When you start making your own brushes you could choose to use them only in your artwork to create a unique feel in your work, or you could sell your brushes on a design resource site like Creative Market. You could even give your brushes away as free downloads to your email list or social media followers.

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Let’s start with some brush making essentials.

Brush Making Essential Tips

1) Always make your brushes at a large size (like 10 x 10 inches at 300dpi). Otherwise they’ll be blurry when you use them.

2) Always use a square canvas or your brushes will be distorted.

3) Always use pure black and white if you want to create an opaque stamp or texture. Using gray or another color will result in a semi-transparent brush.

Procreate 5 Update: Source/Shape/Grain

Important Note! Procreate 5 brought some updates to the brush making panel, so the brush making section that used to be called Source is now broken into 2 sections: Shape and Grain. So when you want to input a stamp shape, go to the Shape section. When you want to input a texture brush grain, go to the Grain section.

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Texture Brushes

Creating your own texture brushes is one of the easiest ways to start adding 100% unique grit to your work. Why would you even need texture brushes? Take this illustration for example. See how much more depth and visual interest this illustration has with texture on it?

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Learn this illustration style in my class on Insects in Procreate

When you make your own texture brushes, there is literally no one in the world with textures like yours in their artwork. So using your own brushes is a great way to define your style and set yourself apart from the crowd!

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In this class on creating texture brushes in Procreate, we’ll pull out our analog art supplies like ink and paint to create some messy, gritty textures. Yes, this process is messy, but real textures like these are so much more unique and realistic than digitally made textures!

The brushes you’ll make in this class aren’t seamless (meaning they are better to tap on the canvas, rather than to do an overall swish across the canvas), but you can easily make them seamless in Procreate. Go to lesson 3 at the 4:05 mark in this class where I show how to make seamless texture brushes.

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You can also use Procreate’s new handy-dandy clone tool to clone parts of your texture to other areas on the canvas. The clone tool is super simple! Just tap the Adjustments menu, put the clone circle on the area you want to clone, then start drawing on the canvas.

The circle determines what area will be cloned, so move that little guy around to clone different areas of the canvas. Here is a screen recording in case you’re thinking, “Liz, what in the world are you talking about??”

I combined the processes from the two classes above, plus a little clone tool action to create all of these brushes:

Scatter Brushes

Scatter brushes place repeated elements around the canvas, so you don’t have to re-draw the same shape over and over. In this illustration I used my scatter brushes to have the same tree shapes repeat at different sizes around the canvas:

Go to lesson 11 at the 4:00 mark of this class to learn how to make your own scatter brush. These look great with plant forms like leaves, trees, and branches, but you could really use any shape at all!

Stamp Brushes

Stamp brushes are perfect for repeating the same shape over and over at different sizes, or the same size each time. You can see how I like to use my stamp brushes in the video below. Go to the 3:26 mark of lesson 12 on this class to see the easy process for making stamp brushes.

Pattern Brushes

Pattern brushes are great for filling the canvas with a bold background pattern or adding pattern to your illustrations! See how pattern brushes work here:

Go to video 5 on this class to learn how I create pattern brushes and start making your own!

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All the Other Brushes

What about the other kinds of brushes that aren’t mentioned here like watercolor brushes and color changing brushes? Here is the only tip you need to learn how to make any brush: find a similar brush and then look at the brush settings, shape and grain.

Procreate has tons of beautiful brushes that you can draw inspiration from! Just open a brush and look at the settings and play around with the sliders. You can even duplicate the brush, then make it your own by changing the grain, stroke, and settings.

Troubleshooting

Although most of these classes are filmed in the older version of Procreate, the steps are very similar so you should have no trouble following along. Remember that in Procreate 5 you have to insert the shape or grain, you have to click on the brush, click Shape or Grain (depending on which type of brush you are making), tap Edit, at the top of the screen, then tap Import.

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Still having trouble? Join my Facebook group where you can ask questions and share your work with other iPad Artists/Designers around the world.

Share Your Brushes!

If you make some brushes using these techniques, I’d love to see them! You can share your brushes with me and the rest of the world on Instagram and tag me @lizkohlerbrown

Insect Illustrations and Animations on Your iPad in Procreate

Insect Illustrations and Animations on Your iPad in Procreate

I love adding playful insects to my illustrations because it’s an easy way to add a whimsical feel to an otherwise boring composition! So I created a class to show you my whole process so you can start incorporating insects into your illustrations. In this