The Procreate app gives you powerful tools you can use in your digital illustration, even if you’re just a beginner. In my opinion some of these tools, including the Procreate symmetry tool are especially useful for beginners.
For example, using a drawing app instead of paper allows you to:
- Erase or delete without eraser marks
- Use tools to stabilize your lines
- Use tools such as quickshape or drawing guides to create perfect shapes.
- Use layers to build upon your artwork, reducing any worries about making mistakes
Another top tip for beginners is use symmetry in Procreate to improve your line work and drawings.
After all, wouldn’t it be easier to draw something once and have it mirrored instead of having to draw the same things twice?
That’s what the symmetry tool does in Procreate!
What is the Procreate Symmetry Tool?
The Procreate Symmetry tool is an option inside drawing guide that allows you to create symmetrical drawings easily.
Think of it as kind of like a mirror image, but more powerful because there are so many ways you can create symmetry in Procreate!
But to put it simply, depending on which symmetry option you pick, Procreate will copy what you draw on one side of a symmetry line onto the other side of the symmetry line.
The example that comes to mind for me is when you’re drawing butterfly wings. When you use the symmetry tool in Procreate you can draw one wing while having that wing automatically drawn on the other side of your canvas at the same time.
Once you start thinking of ways to use this, things get exciting.
The first thing I used this for was to create eyes on a character I was drawing. It was super cool that I only had to draw one eye and the other eye ended up in the perfect place and was an exact replica of the eye I drew.
Drawing eyes is difficult as a beginner. Using the Procreate symmetry tool helped me to create the same eye on both sides and in the same place on a face.
To make things even better, that eye was flipped horizontally, which is exactly how you’d want it. You wouldn’t want the tear ducts to both be on the left side of the eye for example.
(If you did, you’d just want to turn on rotational symmetry because that will actually do an exact replica).
But I’m getting ahead of myself!
How to Use Symmetry in Procreate
Let’s go into Procreate so we can start playing with symmetry. It’s so fun.
Over the next few weeks I’ll create a few Procreate tutorials to show you just how fun this can be 🙂
But first I’ll show you how to find the symmetry settings.
Open a new canvas. At the top of your screen on the left, you should see a wrench icon. Click on that.
Inside the drop down menu, you’ll see a menu item called “Drawing Guide.” Turn drawing guide on.
Next, select “Edit Drawing Guide” in the same menu.
You’ll see a new screen that shows your canvas as well as some colors on the top of the screen and a menu on the bottom of the screen.
There are a lot of features in this drawing guide section but today we will only be focusing on the symmetry options.
Look at the menu on the bottom of your screen. You’ll see an item on the right hand side called “symmetry.” Tap on that.
You should see a vertical line on your canvas. This is a vertical symmetry line. When you use this on your canvas, anything you draw on one side of the canvas will be mirrored on the other side of you canvas.
Other options on this screen that are relevant:
- Color of the line: At the top of your screen there is a color bar. You can change the color of the guide lines on this bar. For example, if you’re working on a black canvas, you probably want a lighter color.
- Hint: One problem that I have with Procreate a lot is that right under the Done button is the color white. If you’re using symmetry and your symmetry line is invisible on your canvas, it’s likely you accidentally changed the color when pressing done.
- Opacity and thickness: At the bottom of your screen you’ll see the option to change the opacity and thickness of the symmetry line. Use this if you want to make it stand out more or less. You’ll often see the teacher in a tutorial increase both of these to make sure that the line shows up on camera.
- Options: The options menu is an important one because that’s where you’re going to choose which kind of symmetry you want to use for your project. (You can use different types of symmetry in a project as well, but just one at a time).
Symmetry Options in Procreate
I’ve already talked about vertical symmetry. What other options are there?
So let’s take a look at some examples of different options!
On the drawing guide screen to the right of symmetry there is section called “options.” Click on options to open up your drawing guide option screen to show the different types of symmetry.
1) Horizontal Symmetry Line – The first drawing guide option is horizontal. This type of symmetry creates an exact horizontal reflection across the centerline of the canvas. This means that whatever you draw above the line will be reflected below the line and vice versa.
2) Vertical Symmetry Line – The vertical symmetry line mirrors everything vertically down the middle of the canvas. this means that whatever you draw on one side will be mirrored onto the other side.
3. Quadrant Symmetry Lines – This symmetry line is actually both a vertical and a horizontal line. What happens with this one is that whatever you draw in one quadrant will be mirrored in each of the other quadrants as well. So, if I draw a circle in the upper right hand corner, there will be a circle in all 4 corners.
4. Radial Symmetry Lines – This is similar to quadrant symmetry but gives you eight areas where your item is repeated. Think mandala. You’ll be creating a symmetrical item that is reflected throughout each of the eight sections. Or you could think of it as a pizza. When I put a piece of pepperoni on one slice, all eight slices will have that pepperoni.
Along with the four options on the menu, there are other options that change the symmetry setting for your project.
Under the types of symmetry, you can choose to toggle on rotational symmetry. Rotational symmetry makes it so that the item is reflected exactly as you draw it instead of as a flipped reflection.
If I turn on rotational symmetry and draw an arrow facing to the left, all of the 8 sections will have an arrow facing to the left.
If I don’t use rotational symmetry (and instead use mirror symmetry which is the default), my arrow will be reflected instead, so the ends of the arrow will touch and the pointy ends will face in opposite directions, like in the example under “radial symmetry lines.
Are You Stuck with Just The Four Symmetry Options?
That would be a bummer.
You might not want your illustration to be exactly in the middle of your canvas.
You might be working at a diagonal and need your symmetrical objects to be on a diagonal instead of exactly vertical or horizontal.
You might want your radial symmetry to be in an area of your canvas other than exactly in the middle.
The cool thing is you can absolutely do all of this. There are so many different ways you can adjust your symmetry lines on your canvas.
Click the wrench tool and go back to your drawing guide. When you look at your canvas, you’ll see there is a blue dot in the middle of your screen and then there is a green dot at the bottom of your screen (or on the side if using the horizontal option).
The blue dot can be moved anywhere on your screen, essentially putting the center of your symmetry line anywhere you want it.
The green dot affects the rotation of the line, allowing you to make it on the diagnol instead of horizontal or vertical. Here’s an example:
If you wish to put the line back in the default position, the easy way to do so is to click the dot and then click on reset.
How to Use Symmetry on Your Canvas
When you want to use symmetry, it’s important to select “drawing assist.” You can do this right in the edit drawing guide screen when choosing your symmetry settings.
Drawing assist makes it so that the symmetry kicks in. If assisted drawing is not on, you will not get the symmetry effect.
This is a good thing.
I turn symmetry mode on and off while creating a project.
When you click done from within the edit drawing guide screen, you will be back in your canvas and should see the symmetry lines on your canvas. This does not mean that drawing assist is on.
Open your layers panel.
The word “assisted” should show up underneath the name of your layer. If it doesn’t, click on the name of your layer and then select Drawing Assist on the menu that pops up.
This is how you turn drawing assist on and off.
You’ll want to remember to select drawing assist on each separate layer you create if you want to continue to use symmetry on your other layers.
When you create a new layer within your drawing, it will not have drawing assist on.
I think this is really helpful because there are times when you don’t want things to be exactly the same on both sides.
There are also times when you’re creating something that crosses the line and sometimes it’s just easier to make that work when drawing guide is off since the way the lines overlap at the symmetry line can sometimes be wonky.
Hint: you’ll have more success with making the lines match up nicely at the symmetry line if you use a monoline brush.
Of course, you can also fix any line across the symmetry line by keeping your pencil on the page after drawing the line (using quick shape) and then using the edit shape function at the top of your screen to adjust your lines.
Keep in mind that when you do this with drawing assist on, what you adjust on one side will also be adjusted on the other side.
Things to Create with Procreate’s Symmetry Tool
When creating this post, I decided to brainstorm some things that could be created using each of the symmetry tools.
Here are some ideas of what you can create:
- Christmas Tree
- A border on the sides of the canvas
- Shadow for lettering
- Something reflected on water
- A Fish
- A border on the top and bottom of the canvas
- Create a pattern that’s reflected in all four areas
- Decorate a box so that each side is the same
Remember for each of these you can move the center point so you can put your symmetrical drawing on different parts of the canvas.
For example, if you were drawing a butterfly, you could make the butterfly in the upper right hand corner flying diagonally across the screen.
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also love my other posts on Procreate, including:
Also, be sure to check out the Procreate website for more information!