The first time I tried to color a coloring page in Procreate I was so frustrated.
No matter how careful I was, I had trouble coloring within the lines without also coloring on top of the lines.
When you color over a line in Procreate, you actually cover up the line.
I hated the way it looked!
I was so bummed because I didn’t really know how to use Procreate and thought coloring pages would be a great place for beginners to start.
But I didn’t want it to look like my page was colored by a 3 year old.
It turns out I was right, but it took me a few years to figure out how to do it!
There is a super simple trick to being able to color within the lines in Procreate and I can’t wait to share it with you! (You don’t need special Procreate coloring pages to do it either!)
First, let’s talk about the best brushes for coloring. To me, brushes are the fun part!
Using coloring pages in Procreate is a great way to get started with learning the app, especially if you’re a beginner. They give you an opportunity to try out different brushes without having to worry about having to draw.
What Are the Best Procreate Brushes for Coloring?
What are the best brushes for coloring pages in Procreate?
That will depend largely on the look you’re going for. Do you want your page to look as if it is colored with crayons? Colored pencils? Markers?
This is one of the best things about Procreate! You can have all of these things with you at all times while not having to carry around a bunch of extra supplies.
Here are some of my top recommendations for coloring in Procreate:
The Ultimate Brush Toolbox will give you a lot of variety.
I’ve also enjoyed using some of the native Procreate brushes including Tamar (in painting), and the air brushes. If you want to make sure you remember which Procreate brushes you used when you colored your pages, read the post linked in this sentence.
You can see some of my other recommendations for using Procreate here:
Import Your Coloring Page Into Procreate
Although I’m going to describe the process of coloring in Procreate in detail, I also created a video for you so that you can see these techniques in action. You can download the coloring page I use in the video here.
I created this free Self Care Coloring Page that you can use if you’d like. Otherwise you can find other coloring pages by doing an internet search.
If you find a coloring page on the internet that you want to use, you’ll have to first make sure that page is in an image format rather than PDF.
Most coloring pages you find on the internet are going to be PDFs. No worries, this is not a big deal because you can easily change the PDF file into an image file.
The easiest way is to open the PDF on your iPad using something like GoodNotes. In GoodNotes you can then either export the page as an image file or you could take a screen shot, crop it, and save it to your camera roll.
There are also websites online you can use a website to convert your file. If you do a search for “PDF to JPG” or “PDF to PNG” you can easily upload your PDF and then export it as a JPG or PNG.
I used Affinity Publisher to convert some of my PDF coloring pages into JPG files. I opened the PDF and then exported that same PDF as a JPG. Easy peasy.
Once you have your coloring page in either JPG or PNG format, you can import it into Procreate.
You can either import the canvas by selecting Photo from the Gallery view or by first creating a canvas and then importing the picture into your canvas by selecting the wrench icon > add > insert a photo.
I recommend first starting from the gallery and importing it in from there. That way the picture will come in a the correct pixels. If you make a canvas and then try to stretch the coloring page, it will look pixelated and blurry.
My Lines are Blurry!
If you chose to create a canvas and then import the photo into that canvas, you may notice that your lines are blurry.
If this happens, it means your canvas is too large and that image will not work on that canvas. You could then either start over with a smaller canvas size or import in from the gallery itself.
At the top of the screen there is a button called “photo.” Select that and then your photo will import directly into Procreate.
My recommendation is that you go in and look at the canvas size and number of layers before going any further with this. If the canvas size ends up ridiculously small you won’t be able to do anything else with your project (such as printing it) without it being pixelated and blurry.
If your canvas is ridiculously large, you won’t have enough layers to do much coloring with.
What About Tracing?
One idea you could do if your lines look blurry is to trace the black lines of the coloring page on a new layer and then delete the layer with the coloring page on it.
This is similar to creating a sketch layer and then inking over that layer on a new layer.
I’m not a lawyer by any means, but want to point out that you want to be very careful with tracing.
When tracing, you are ultimately copying someone else’s artwork. Most copyright rules are going to say that you can’t copy something for any reason, so tracing is likely outside the rules. If you choose to break those rules, I recommend that the project be strictly for personal use only.
What I mean by that is only for your own fun, not for sharing on social media or anything else.
Of course you could also ask the artist if he or she would be okay with you tracing their work so you could use it on Procreate.
Using Color Drop to Color the Coloring Page
One of the easiest ways to color in the lines in Procreate is by using color drop. With this method you select a color and then drag that color from the little dot in the top right of your screen down into the area you wish to fill with that color.
In order for this to work, the black lines surrounding the area you’re filling in need to be closed with no gaps. Otherwise the color will fill the whole canvas.
If your color either doesn’t fill the area as much as you’d like or if the color fills more than you’d like, you may need to adjust your color threshold.
Undo your coloring by tapping your screen with two fingers.
Once again, drag the color to the area you wish to fill, but this time do not lift your pencil. Instead drag your pencil to the left if you need it to color less of the area or right if you need it to color more of the area. This is your color threshold. It defaults to the last time you used it, so now the rest of your coloring page should work out well!
With this technique, you are coloring right on the layer that has the coloring page. I don’t recommend doing this because it makes it harder to change your colors later if you decide you want to do so.
For help in choosing colors, I’ve created a tutorial on making a color palette from any photo in Procreate.
Use Color Dropping Plus a Reference Layer
Another way to color the lines on a coloring page is by using the coloring page as a reference for other layers.
Similar to before, import your coloring page image into your canvas.
Select that (color sheet) layer and tap on the title of that layer. Select reference.
Now, create a new layer. This new layer is the one you will start coloring on. You may wish to rename the layer by tapping on the layer name and selecting rename in the menu. You could rename it something simple like color 1.
You may wish to go back to and lock your reference (coloring page) layer by selecting it, swiping to the left and selecting lock. This will make it so that you don’t accidentally color on your coloring page instead of your other layers.
What is a reference layer in Procreate?
When you selected the coloring page as your reference, what you did was make it so that the other layers you’re working with will use what’s on that layer as a reference.
In other words, although the lines are not on your new layer, your new layer “knows” where the lines are and when you drop colors on your new layer, they will fill the area where the lines in your color page are. It’s like magic.
Although you can make some beautiful pictures just using color drop, you may not find that it gives you the same joy as traditional coloring on paper does.
If you’re like me, you wanted to color so that you could play with the different brushes in Procreate! Well, I have good news. There is a super simple way to color in the lines in the traditional way!
Use Blend Modes to Color in Procreate
(Note: In the video I used a blend mode when doing the color drop with reference layer as well).
Import your image into Procreate.
On the layer panel, open the coloring layer and tap on the “N.”
A menu comes up showing an opacity slider and then some other options that you can scroll through. Scroll to the top of this list and select “Multiply.”
Multiply is a blend mode that gets applied to the layers underneath it. Usually it will darken the things underneath it a bit, but since the areas you’re going to be coloring are white, it won’t change the layer underneath.
The one you’re about to create!
Create a new layer and drag that layer underneath the coloring layer. You may choose to lock the coloring page layer so that you don’t color on that layer if you wish to do so (remember how to do this? You open the layer panel, select the coloring page layer, swipe to the left and select lock).
Go to the layer that you just created and moved under the coloring page layer. Now select the brush you want to use for coloring and adjust the size so that it works for your coloring style.
Now color on that layer as you would on a piece of paper!
Use The Selection Tool To Color
One other way you can color on your color sheet is to use the selection tool. This is the tool in the upper left hand menu that looks like an S or a Ribbon.
When you select this menu, you will see there is another menu that pops up on the bottom of the screen. Make sure you select “free hand.”
With the selection tool activated, trace the lines that you want to fill. Then close the selection by tapping on the circle that is at the beginning of the selection. You’ll see that the areas around your selection have diagonal lines.
Select your brush and color on the selection. You will only be able to color within the selection, not outside of it.
I like using this technique when I need to color something precise, like blades of glass, or when I want to create texture or shading in a specific area. For more information on how this works, be sure to watch the video in this post.
Using Layers When Coloring
Although not necessary or required, I recommend doing each color on its own layer. (Hint: Watch the video to see why).
That makes it super simple to change your colors if you want to adjust them! More on that in a future post. For now, make sure you watch the video to see how I change colors on a layer using a couple of different techniques, including recolor and alpha lock/fill layer.
I hope you enjoy coloring! Get started today by downloading my free self care coloring page: