My subscribers often ask me – is procreate better than Photoshop? Can I replace Photoshop with procreate? Which software is better? Can I replace or switch from one to another? I hope you will get all the answers upon reading my take on it.
This is a Photoshop vs Procreate detailed comparison. Wondering which one is better? The answer is – depends what you are using it for. Each app has its main strengths and weakness. I am giving thorough information on both programs so that you could better understand the differences and choose the one that suits your needs.
Nowadays it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t heard about Adobe Photoshop, even if he or she doesn’t work in any creative sphere. Photoshop has been around from the early 90s and became a professional standard software in almost every company that deals with digital art in any form.
Being a dedicated Adobe user for more than a decade, I honestly think that Photoshop without a doubt is the best desktop software for graphic design and digital art. In 2021 Adobe has released a refined Photoshop version for iPad. It’s already much better than the initial one, but it still has its limitations and is not the same program as on desktop.
Procreate for iPad is a relative newcomer, it was released in 2014 as an application for professional creatives. Since then many artists have been talking very positively about their experience using the app. And rightfully so. When I first got my hands on Procreate app 3 years ago I was wondering if it’s gonna replace Photoshop in my daily practice. Or if it’s just a nice toy not suitable for professional work.
The short answer is – each can replace the other in a respective field of application. Meaning that Photoshop is better for one set of tasks and Procreative is better for other tasks.
In order to know which one is better for you personally you should know both programs’ pros and cons for digital illustrating.
Why and when Photoshop is better than Procreate
-Industry standard software
Adobe Photoshop has been a proven leader in creating and editing raster imagery for years, so it’s no surprise companies and digital studios of all over the world use it as a default software in their offices. If you are a beginner in digital art I would highly recommend you to learn Photoshop first because it will give you points in karma when applying for a job (many companies simply state this as a strict requirement).
Photoshop has been around for a long time so it’s no wonder there are already tons of brushes created for it. You can find almost every brush you need in the internet and if you are using Photoshop for some time you may have already collected you own unique set of favorite brushes. To my joy Photoshop brushes can now be transferred to Procreate.
It’s not a secret Adobe Photoshop has the whole bunch of different options not only for illustrating but also for photo editing (as it comes from it’s name Photoshop was originally created for dealing with photos J ), web design and printing. There are build-in handful filters, camera RAW and retouch tools for your photos, slicing and saving for web for your banners and newsletters, which Procreate doesn’t have.
-Amount of layers
Different iPads depending on their memory storage and your canvas size allow you to use a limited amount of layers in Procreate. Photoshop on the contrary allows you to utilize hundreds of layers (which is vital for complex projects and highly detailed drawings). You are indeed free to edit every layer you’ve created at certain point without a need to merge them every once in a while.
For me personally it’s the biggest advantage of Photoshop over Procreate. Using adjustment layers allows you to change colors of your whole artwork, not individual layers. There are plenty of options like photo filters, contrast or brightness you can apply to a bunch of layers at once. This is something that Procreate definitely lacks.
Keyboard shortcuts allow you to fasten your workflow significantly. There are a lot of premade shortcuts that you can use or create your own by going to Edit > Keyboard shortcuts (or Alt+Shift+Ctrl (Command for iOS) +K). Yes, you can assign some functions to certain gestures in Procreate but they are limited in comparison.
There are no vectors in Procreate. You can neither create a precise vector mask for your layers nor draw a neat vector shape. On the other hand, Photoshop has you covered on this.
It’s a matter of discussion which program provides a faster workflow though for me personally Photoshop is more time saving when working with complex imagery.
Working with Photoshop you can choose whatever monitor size you want (i.e. a regular laptop or wide or even super wide screen). So far the biggest iPad screen that allows to work in Procreate is 12.9 inches. And it’s usually way smaller than your monitor screen.
-No dependency on battery
Working on your desktop allows you not to worry about your computer’s battery running out of charge in the most inappropriate moment. Meanwhile Procreate is going to last as long as your iPad’s charge.
Why and when Procreate is better than Photoshop:
It’s really, REALLY comfortable for sketching and feels much like drawing on a real sheet of paper. You can easily rotate and zoom the canvas in Procreate and the workflow is incredibly smooth.
There more than 200 built-in default brushes and the majority of them are really awesome. Procreate also allows you to play with the settings of your brushes (which are much broader that in Photoshop) and easily create your own brushes from the existing ones or from scratch.
Great news from the 5.0 Procreate update – now you can import your brushes (.abr) from Photoshop. No need to change your working routines.
I personally love how the brushes are organized in Procreate – you can have separate folders for different ones (like Charcoal or Pencil or Geometric neatly gathered in different folders that you can rename or change the order from top to bottom of the menu). Also with the latest 5.2 Procreate update all the recent brushes are stacked into Recent folder – the feature I really missed after Photoshop.
It’s a great feature that allows you to create different color palettes for different needs, save them, assign as default and easily change the colors with tap of your finger. I’ve got like 15 favorite pallets and switch between them for different kinds of work. You can also create a color palette from photo or drawing in a couple of clicks. So, you can take your own photos for color inspiration. Or make a palette from your drawing when working on illustration series to preserve the same vibe.
-Simplicity and artist friendliness
When you first open Procreate, the number of menus, dropdowns and filters in the interface does not overwhelm you. Procreate provides very simple and friendly menu that allows you to create a drawing even if you are not yet familiar with shortcuts and built-in features of the app. In my opinion, it’s easier for beginners and allows artists of different skill level to use Procreate from the first day of purchase.
Procreate is an app for tablets (and its Pocket version works even on iPhone). And the main idea of tablet is its portability. That means you can draw basically everywhere – outdoors, in transport, on vacation. There are no limits except your battery charge 🙂
While I’m not a lettering artist myself many of my fellow artists say it’s really convenient to use Procreate for lettering because of the brush settings which you can adjust to mimic the lettering tools but with way more control over your workflow.
Yes, with Procreate you don’t need to learn how to use any recording programs, as time-lapse is a built-in feature in Procreate. You can even see how much time you’ve spent on a particular piece of art and share your speed paint video instantly in social networks.
And finally the price. Procreate costs $9.99 and once you pay – it is yours forever. In case of Photoshop, it will cost you around $239 a year and is subscription based. Unless you have free subscription provided by the company you work for (like in my case).
Photoshop and Procreate are both great tools and I can’t say one can replace another in a long run. They are rather supplementary and can provide great experience when used together. You can start your work on the tablet in Procreate and add final touches on your desktop easily. Or create your artwork in Procreate and prepare it for print using Photoshop afterwards.
- If you are a beginner and have a limited budget – Procreate is definitely worth getting.
- If you are already an experienced artist Photoshop can remain your basic desktop software no matter what. Procreate will simply give you more options.
- The most important thing is that you can create amazing art on both apps. It comes down to your personal preferences, tasks and what you enjoy more.