Let’s be dramatic and say that the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, along with Procreate, changed the way people make digital art. Not only that, it made digital art much more accessible. These days you just need an Apple Pencil-compatible iPad and you can start creating art right away!
That’s pretty amazing.
But can you illustrate an entire children’s book in Procreate?
Well, there are two answers to that question: yes and maybe.
If you don’t use a lot of layers in your digital art, then yes, you can probably illustrate a children’s book in Procreate. Jess Keating, magical unicorn author/illustrator person, illustrates her graphic novels for kids in Procreate and she loves it! She uses a bold style of art, without a ton of texture and doesn’t run up against layer limits in Procreate as often as I do.
Wait! What do you mean layer limits?
Procreate limits the number of layers you get on each canvas. The number of layers is determined by how much memory your iPad has, how big your canvas is and what dpi your canvas is.
Generally, the bigger your canvas the fewer layers you’re going to have.
Again, this isn’t a problem if you a) don’t have a style that uses lots of layers or b) manage your layers really REALLY carefully.
For someone like me who uses lots of layers to create texture and depth, Procreate’s layer limits are a problem. That’s one of the reasons that I use Procreate for the early parts of my process, but finish my illustrations in Photoshop.
What about working in batches?
In children’s books, you’re creating art that requires consistency across many pages. Consistent character design. Consistent colors, textures, line weight, etc. Something that makes that easier is working in batches.
For example, you might illustrate one character’s shirt on every page all at the same time, making sure that the colors and pattern match up on each page or spread. In Photoshop, you can open several documents at once and work in batches. In Procreate, you can work on one document at a time, which will slow down the process.
Again, this goes back to style and technique. If your style is more straightforward, not being able to work in batches may not slow you down too much.
Will art directors accept Procreate files?
Whether you love it or not, Adobe CC is still the industry standard in publishing. You’ll be expected to deliver art in an acceptable format, usually .psd, which is no problem because Procreate lets you export in a variety of file formats.
But because publishers are definitely going to be looking at your art in Photoshop or InDesign, it’s a good idea to check your files in Photoshop before sending them off.
Most children’s book illustrators who illustrate in Procreate still do a final art check in Photoshop before sending their art files off. Why? Because who wants a nasty surprise when discovering that the color doesn’t look the same in Photoshop as it did in Procreate? No one does!
Whether you can illustrate a children’s book in Procreate or not depends on your art style and also on your style of working.
What I love about Procreate is that it makes digital art more approachable. It’s a good place to start, for sure! Maybe one day you’ll outgrow Procreate and want to switch to Photoshop + a big pen display like a Cintiq.