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How to use 3D in Procreate | Everything you need to know

Are you just as excited as I am about the new 3D paint option in Procreate? Me too! That’s why I’ve written this tutorial on how to use 3D in Procreate.

To use 3D in Procreate you must import a 3D object of your choice, or you can download the 3D objects Procreate gives you. To do this, make sure you updated Procreate to the latest 5.2 version.

Keep reading to learn how to paint in 3D in Procreate. But first things first: Does your iPad support 3D in Procreate?

Does Procreate 3D work on all iPads?

Procreate 3D works on every iPad except the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4, as their chips are incompatible. For any other iPad, as long as it’s updated to iOs15, and Procreate is updated to the latest 5.2 version, 3D paint should work.

You can check which version of Procreate you have by opening your gallery and tapping ”Procreate” in the top left corner.

which Procreate version do i have

If it’s not up to date, go to the AppStore, search for Procreate and hit update.

Even when Procreate is up to date, you cannot enter 3D mode unless you’ve imported a 3D model.

How to import a 3D model to Procreate

There are two ways to import a 3D model in Procreate: by downloading the 8 3D objects Procreate comes with, or by importing your own 3D object.

To import Procreate’s 3D models, you:

  1. Open up any canvas in your gallery
  2. Go to Actions (wrench icon) in the top left corner
  3. Go to Help
  4. Click ”What’s New?”
    • A new screen pops up with the ability to (re)download the 3D model pack
  5. Click to download the model Pack
How to import 3d models in Procreate

The 3D models Procreate comes with are:

  • Motorcycle Helmet
  • Skateboard
  • Sunglasses
  • Roller Skate
  • Ceramic Vase
  • Electric Guitar
  • Soda Can
  • Surfboard
Procreate 3D pack download

After you update to the latest version of Procreate it prompts a new screen which asks if you want to download its 3D models. Sometimes the downloading takes forever and ultimately fails.

This happened to me, and it turns out I had too little space left in my iPad storage to download the models. So if you encounter this problem, try freeing up more space and download the models again.

To import your own 3D model in Procreate, you:

  1. Download or save your 3D model to your iPad and put it in your files
    • Make sure the 3D model is unzipped or it won’t show up
  2. Open your gallery in Procreate
  3. Hit import
  4. Tap your model file
    • Procreate will automatically open up in 3D mode
how to import 3D model in Procreate

Make sure your model has UV’s. You cannot import (and paint) a model that has no UV’s. Check this before downloading a model (it’s usually stated in the specifications).

All of Procreate’s native models have UV’s.

What 3D file formats does Procreate support?

The 3D files Procreate supports are .OBJ and .USDZ. The .OBJ file format is the most popular 3D file format. I recommend choosing this format when downloading a model from 3D model websites.

More on where to find 3D models (for free) later.

3D in Procreate

It’s important to know that you cannot create 3D objects in Procreate. You can only paint on them. Therefore you need to either download and import a model, or make your own model in 3D modelling software and import it.

Procreate opens up the 3D interface automatically when a 3D object is imported, or when you open a 3D model from your gallery.

Navigation in Procreate 3D

The navigation in Procreate 3D is very simple and similar to when working in 2D:

ActionGesture
MoveTap and drag using two fingers
Rotate around axisDrag one finger
Zoom inSpread two fingers apart
Zoom outPinch two fingers together
Select part of modelTap to select

The 3D interface in Procreate

The 3D interface looks no different than the regular 2D interface. The available options, however, are slightly different. I’ve written down the ones you must know in order to paint in 3D (the other ones are either missing or self-explanatory).

Under Actions (the wrench icon) you see that there is a new button: 3D. Here you can:

  • Toggle on/off ”Show 2D texture”
    • This is where you can paint on a flat 2D surface rather than the 3D model (it will still show up on the 3D model)
  • Paint through mesh
    • Sometimes your view gets blocked by a different part of your model. When you have this setting toggled off, you cannot paint on parts that you can’t see. When toggled on, Procreate ignores obstructing parts (see image below)
  • Edit Light and Environment
    • Here you can change the lighting of your object and the background environment
paint through mesh Procreate 3D
Paint Through Mesh is toggled OFF

On the right side of the interface, you see your regular brush library, smudge, eraser, layers panel and color panel.

The layers panel is the one that has changed the most.

The layers panel in Procreate 3D

The layer panel consists out of the different parts of your model. These are called texture sets. For example; the skateboard model has 2 texture sets: the trucks and board.

These texture sets contain groups. These groups contain meshes (part of the model on which is painted) and their textures.

The imported models from Procreate itself already have a painted on mesh: the Base Layer. You can delete this or toggle it off and create your own.

Procreate 3D

Texture maps in Procreate 3D

Each layer has a cube symbol. When you tap this icon you see 3 sub-layers pop up: Colour, Roughness and Metallic.

These are technically not layers, but maps. They are called texture maps (not to be confused with texture sets) because this is where you paint the texture of your model.

Texture maps can be exported into a 2D image so you can view your painted 3D model in any other 3D software.

I’ll explain in a bit how they work.

The entire layer is selected: You’re painting simultaniously on Colour, Roughness, and Metallic

You can either select the entire layer, which means all of the sub-layers (or texture maps) are included which means you’re painting on all of them at the same time, or you can pick one of the three and paint on a single map.

The latter is adviced.

Now only the Rougness layer is selected


This is the part where the understanding of 3D models come in handy. It’s actually the same way every animation studio, like Pixar, color their models.

Don’t worry, I’ll explain!

Color Procreate 3D

The colour layer in Procreate is a map on which you paint the colors of your object. It’s very important to only paint the base colors, and not any shadows or highlights. After all, you’re dealing with a 3D object which derives its shadows and highlights from its environment.

color procreate 3D


It may look very plain but this is how texture artists paint their 3D models: without light information. Because we are working in 3D and not 2D, the light information comes from the lighting set up in the scene our object is in.

Whenever the light changes, our shadows will change accordingly, just like in real life. This is why we don’t paint fixed shadows or highlights.

Roughness Procreate 3D

The roughness layer in Procreate is a map which determines how smooth or rough the surface of an object is. This map does not use color. It uses grayscale: black, white and any gray value in between. The darker the color, the smoother the surface. The lighter the color, the rougher the surface.

A perfect mirror without any scratches has a roughness map that is completely black. But a pillow is very matte: it has no shine. This means that a pillow’s roughness map is very light.

Roughness maps help visualise what kind of material your object is made of. Is it made of plastic? Wood? Glass? These different kinds of materials all have different roughness.

Roughness maps are also great for when you want a worn-down look. A brand new object looks shinier than an object that has been used. The used object might have scuffs and scratches.

To paint scuffs and scratches you simply pick a value, like a light gray, and paint them on your roughness layer. Make sure this value is lighter than the value of the areas that are not scuffed and scratched.

Metallic layer Procreate 3D

The metallic layer in Procreate tells you whether an object is made out of metal or not. This map uses black and white only: black for non-metallic and white for metallic. This means that the map is either white or black, and nothing in between.

The exception is when there’s rust or corrosion on your metallic object. These areas may have a value in between black and white due to the changing of the surface.

The brush studio materials

Every brush in Procreate is editable in the brush studio. Now that Procreate supports 3D painting, you can create specific roughness and metallic attributes for each brush.

To edit a brushes material you:

  1. Select the brush you want to edit the material properties of
  2. Tap tbe brush again to open up the brush studio
  3. Select the Materials tab
3D in Procreate

Now you can edit the metallic and roughness properties of your chosen brush.


Metallic & roughness settings

Amount
An object is either metallic or non-metallic. So set the metallic amount to either 0% (not metallic) or 100% (Metallic).

When it comes to the amount of roughness you have to make an estimation. If you’re making a mirror brush you know you have to set the roughness amount low.

Play around until you see something that you like!

Metallic/roughness source
Here you can edit the source of your brush. This simply changes the texture of the brush.

Go to Edit > Import > Source Libary to choose a nice texture. Remember that you can invert the source by tapping with two fingers.

Use this setting to create a dust brush!

Scale:
Here you set the scale of the source.

Tip: Draw on the sphere to see the brush in action!

materials in procreate

The benefit of creating material brushes is that you don’t have to use individual maps to paint. This way you can easily paint on the layer that uses all 3 of the maps at the same time.

It’s all about preference! Neither one of them is better than the other.

Seting up lights and environment in Procreate 3D

When working in 3D you must have at least two things: a model to look at, and a light source to actually see that model.

If there were no lights in your 3D scene, your screen would be completely black. You always need a light source to illuminate your scene.

You can make use of an environment in Procreate. An environment is used so that your object can interact with it.

This means that whichever environment you choose, your object receives the environment’s reflected lights. This can dramatically change the hue of your object. Very fun to play around with!

3D in Procreate



Luckily, Procreate has already put in lights and an environment so you don’t have to do it. But, you can create your own lighting and environment set up.

To edit the lighting set up in your 3D scene in Procreate, You:

  1. Go to Actions (wrench Icon)
  2. Go to 3D
  3. Tap Edit Lighting & Environment
  4. Tap Add Light to create a new light source
    • You can add up to 4 lights in your scene
  5. Tap a light source to edit the hue, saturation and intensity of your light
  6. Hit done
3D in procreate

To change the position of the lights, simply drag them anywhere you like. By tapping a light source you can also duplicate and delete it.

To edit the environment in your 3D scene in Procreate, You:

  1. Go to Actions (wrench Icon)
  2. Go to 3D
  3. Tap Edit Lighting & Environment
  4. Hit Environment
  5. Pick an Environment
  6. OPTIONAL: Edit the exposure
    • I usually leave it at 100%
  7. Hit Done
3D in Procreate

You can also toggle on/off Show Environment. When toggling this off you can clearly see the impact different environments have.

3D animation Procreate

You cannot create animations in Procreate. You can, however, animate your 3D model to show what you’ve made. This animation is done automatically when you export your 3D artwork as an animated GIF, PNG, MP4 or HVEC. You can choose between two animations: rotation and swing.

Yuo can edit the settings of the fixed animation in any way you like.

To create an animation of your 3D work in Procreate you:

  1. Go to Actions
  2. Go to Share
  3. Pick Animated GIF (or PNG, MP4 or HVEC, as long as its animated)
  4. Edit settings
  5. Export

Keep reading to find out what each and every setting does.

How to export in Procreate 3D

There are four ways to export your 3D work in Procreate. You can:

  • Share your 3D model inluding your painted work
  • Share a 2D image of your artwork
  • Share an animated file of your artwork
  • Share texture maps only

To export 3D artwork in Procreate, you go to Actions (wrench tool), Share, and then you pick a file format.

How to export 3D Procreate

Export 3D model with texture maps in Procreate

If you want to export your 3D model including your painted work you must export your artwork as a Procreate, USDZ or OBJ file. To do this, you:

  1. Go to Actions
  2. Go to Share
  3. Under ”Share Model” pick either Procreate, USDZ or OBJ
  4. Share it in anyway you want
    • Tip: 3D files can become quite big so a free sharing app/website like WeTransfer allows you to e-mail big files

Which file format should I use to export my 3D model in Procreate 3D?

Here you can read which 3D file format in Procreate suits you best:

File formatHow does it export?
ProcreateExports 3D model + art. Only other Procreate users can use this file
USDZExports 3D model + art. This file format was made by Apple, so great if you work with Apple products
OBJExports your 3D model, art, + texture maps in a folder. Pick this one if you want to use it in any other 3D software

You can also share a 2D image of your 3D model. Before exporting as a 2D image, make sure you have your lighting set up the way you want. You can leave the default set up.

Also position your 3D model in any way you want because this is how your 2D image will look like.

To export a 2D image of your 3D model in Procreate you:

  1. Go to Actions
  2. Go to Share
  3. Choose a file format
File formatCharacteristics
JPEGSmall file, widely used on the web.
PNGHigh quality and supports trancaprency. PNGs tend to be bigger in size.
TIFFHigh quality, mostly used by professionals. TIFFs are big in size.

If you’re not sure which one to choose, choose JPEG.

How to export 3D animation in Procreate

You can also animate your 3D work. The animation is a rotation of your model around its axis. You can edit the settings so your animation is to your liking.

You can export your animation in Procreate as an:

  • Animated Gif
    • Most common format on the web for animations
  • Animated PNG
    • Format for when you have transparent areas in your animation
  • Animated MP4
    • Has a smaller file size but does not support transparency
  • Animated HVEC
    • Has a smaller file size but does support transparancy

To export animation of a 3D model in Procreate, you:

  1. Go to Actions
  2. Go to Share
  3. Choose a file format
    • Animated Gif
    • Animated PNG
    • Animated MP4
    • Animated HVEC

You should choose a file size that is as small as possible but with the best quality.

3D animation in Procreate

SettingWhat does it doFile format that has this setting
Max Resolution Max resolution: big file + better qualityAnimated Gif
Animated PNG
Web ReadyWeb ready: smaller file + lower qualityAnimated Gif
Animated PNG
720P / 1080p / 4K / SquareThe resolution of your animation in pixels. Square: 1080 x 1080p (great for social media)Animated MP4
Animated HVEC
DitheringReduces color banding Animated Gif
Per Frame Colour PaletteImproves quality of video but results in bigger file sizeAnimated Gif
Animated RotateRotates the modelAnimated Gif
Animated PNG
Animated MP4
Animated HVEC
Animated SwingSwings the model (not a full rotation)Animated Gif
Animated PNG
Animated MP4
Animated HVEC
Animation DurationDuration of the animation cycleAnimated Gif
Animated PNG
Animated MP4
Animated HVEC
Zoom DistanceAmount of distance zoomed in during the animation cycleAnimated Gif
Animated PNG
Animated MP4
Animated HVEC
EaseBuilds up the animation speed and builds down the animation speed Animated Gif
Animated PNG
Animated MP4
Animated HVEC
Show EnvironmentKeeps the background Animated Gif
Animated PNG
Animated MP4
Animated HVEC
Transparant BackgroundDeletes the background so it’s transparent (only available when Show Environment is toggled off)Animated Gif
Animated PNG
Animated HVEC

If you don’t know which one to choose, go for the animated GIF.

How to export texture maps in Procreate 3D

To export texture maps in Procreate 3D, you:

  1. Go to Actions (wrench icon)
  2. Go to Share
  3. Under ”Share Textures” hit PNG
  4. Save to Files
texture maps in Procreate

Saving texture maps isn’t done for the same reasons as saving a 2D image of your 3D model.

Saving textures is done so you can take those textures and use them in different 3D software like Maya, Blender, Unreal Engine and more.

How to paint in 3D in Procreate

Now that you know how to use 3D in Procreate, here’s the short version.

To paint in 3D in Procreate, you:

  1. Import and open a 3D model or download and open a default model from Procreate
    1. To import a 3D model: Open gallery > import > choose 3D model
    2. To download Procreate’s default models: Open any canvas > Actions > Help > What’s New > download 3D pack > Open any model
  2. Tap anywhere on the model where you want to paint
  3. Hit plus sign to create a new layer
  4. Hit cube symbol
  5. Choose either Color, Roughness or Metallic
    1. Choose Color to paint
    2. Choose Roughness to paint a glossy or matte finish
    3. Choose Metallic to paint a metal finish
  6. Open the brush library and choose any brush
  7. Start painting

Procreate 3D models free

You can download free 3D models on the following trusted websites:

Just note that free models, as with anything, are usually less detailed and simpler than paid-for models.

Just make sure the free 3D models that you download to use in Procreate are UV mapped! If not, you cannot paint on them.

Here’s a list of free 3D models to download and use in Procreate:

Most frequently asked questions about 3D in Procreate

Here you can find the most asked questions about 3D in Procreate. If you don’t find your answer, feel free to ask your question in the comment section down below.

Is symmetry supported in Procreate 3D?

Symmetry is not supported when painting in 3D in Procreate.

How do I export texture maps in Procreate 3D

To export texture maps in Procreate go to Actions > Share > Share Textures > PNG. Now you can save the image on your iPad or send it elsewhere.

Procreate 3D not working

When Procreate 3D is not working you should check if you have updated Procreate to the latest version 5.2. If that doesn’t work you should check if your iPad is compatible to the 3D option. Incompatible iPads include: iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4.

In Procreate you can only enter 3D mode when you open a 3D model. 3D mode is not manually available.

How to 3D sculpt in Procreate

You cannot sculpt in Procreate. Procreate only allows you to paint onto a 3D surface. 3D models can either be imported or you can create a 3D model and export it as a .obj in different software and then send it to Procreate to create textures.

What is the Procreate 3D update?

Before attempting to paint in 3D make sure Procreate is updated to the 5.2 version. This version is available worldwide and you need iOs15 and a compatible iPad.

Can you use symmetry in Procreate 3D?

You cannot use symmetry in Procreate 3D. Unfortunately, this option is not yet available.

How do you get 3D models on iPad?

You can either download Procreate’s default 3D models or you can import your own 3D models. To import Procreate’s default models open up any canvas > go to actions (wrench icon) > Help > What’s New > download 3D model pack.

How do I get 3D models in Procreate?

To import a 3D model into Procreate go to your gallery > import > select a 3D file. It’s important to select an unzipped 3D file otherwise you won’t be able to find it in your files. Also, make sure to use a .obj file or .USDZ file.

How do you 3D an image in Procreate?

You cannot create a 3D model from an image in Procreate. You can, however, paint on a 3D model made in a different software program.

To use 3D in Procreate you download Procreate’s default 3D models. When opening one of the 3D models Procreate automatically opens up the 3D interface. You can now paint in 3D.


I hope you learned how to 3D paint in Procreate! It takes some practice but once you get the hang of it it’s sooo worth it. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments down below :)

Happy painting in 3D!

♡ Laura

P.S Click here to find more Procreate tutorials with helpful tricks

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