As a self-proclaimed digital portrait artist, I’m always on the hunt for the best skin brushes for Procreate. After years of searching, I finally found the perfect skin brush pack:
The best skin brushes for Procreate are the 61 skin brushes for High Realism by Laura H. Rubin. This Procreate brush pack features 61 brushes including skin textures, pigments, pores, birthmarks, and more. According to hundreds of reviews with an average of 4.8/5 stars, the Procreate brush packs by Laura are one of the best.
Keep reading to find out:
- More about the 61 Skin brushes for High Realism and why it’s so good
- Which native Procreate brushes are best for skin
- Which alternative skin brushes you can download for free
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What brushes to use in Procreate for skin?
So let’s first identify what brushes are best to create skin. In my opinion, to create realistic skin you need 5 kinds of brushes:
- A brush to create a base layer
- A brush that blends colors well
- Brushes for different kinds of skin textures
- Fine lines
- A brush for ”imperfections”
- A brush for hair
- Eyebrows, lashes, body hair etc.
I’ll be showing you examples of all of the previously mentioned brushes which you can find in the 61 Skin brushes for High Realism pack and similar brushes that come with Procreate.
You might also like my e-book: a pocket guide to How to make skin color | Easy skin color theory for the beginning artist
A brush to create a base layer
After making a sketch the first thing to do is create a base layer. To do this you need a brush that can cover a large area all at once. I also use this kind of brush to add every single local color. Local color is a different name for base colors. They are colors that do not have any shadows or highlights.
The following brushes can be used for base layers (local colors):
61 Skin for high Realism: Basic 2 brush
Brush that comes with Procreate: Airbrushing > Medium Hard Airbrush
A brush that blends colors well
Next, you need a brush for blending. You blend colors where they transition into other colors and values. To do this you can use the following brushes:
61 Skin for high Realism: Blending 2
Brush that comes with Procreate: Airbrushing > soft brush
Brushes for textures
So skin has different kinds of textures in different places. Use a mirror to look at your own skin to see where each texture lies. The texture below your eyes is vastly different than the texture you have on your arms for example.
61 Skin for high Realism: Skin 1 basic soft
Brush that comes with Procreate: Materials > Noise brush
The 61 brush pack has TONS of varying skin textures. That’s what I love most about it. The native Procreate brushes are great as well, it’s just that the brushes are very limited.
I added a second coat of a different texture:
61 Skin for high Realism: 6 Basic rough
Brush that comes with Procreate: Materials > Rough Skin. This layer is set to hard light.
When adding textures and ”imperfections” always put them on a separate layer from the base layer. This way you can play with different blend modes and opacity!
Brushes for imperfections
What makes skin look realistic? Imperfections! Add freckles, beauty marks, and anything that does not look like a ”porcelain doll” skin. Of course, these aren’t imperfections at all but that’s generally what we call them because the beauty industry tries to cover them up with concealers and foundations.
61 Skin for high Realism: Freckles
Brush that comes with Procreate: Spraypaints > flicks
Brushes for hair
Everyone has hair on their face: eyebrows, lashes, beards, and even a thin layer of hair covering the entire face. In some people, this is more visible than in others. If you’re drawing an extreme close-up or extremely big on a big canvas you need these kinds of brushes to convey ultra realism.
For the example below I drew an eyebrow.
61 Skin for high Realism: Glow brush (This pack does have an eyelash brush which you can use for brows but I personally don’t like that brush so I used the glow brush).
Brush that comes with Procreate: Materials > Short hair
The skin brushes for High Realism pack by Laura H. Rubin contain all of the previously mentioned brushes plus tons of variations of them.
The main reason I love these brushes so much is that the skin textures are AMAZING. I’ve yet to come across a skin pack with this many details.
You can buy the set here:
61 skin brush set VS 102 portrait set
Personally, I find that the downside to the 61 skin for high realism set is the lack of hair brushes. Sure there is an eyelash brush but when you paint skin you often want to paint realistic hair as well. That’s why I actually like the 102 brush pack for High Realism better than the 61 skin brush pack.
I’ve been using the 102 high realism set for a few years now and I have to say that it’s the absolute best pack I’ve ever bought.
It’s the 61 skin brush pack combined with Laura’s realistic hair pack + more ultra-realistic brushes. I did an entire review about the 102 realistic brush set which you can check out here.
If you check out my Instagram every single realistic portrait you find on there is made with this brush pack. This particular set currently has 789 reviews with a whopping 4.9/5 stars. I’ve never seen a pack with higher reviews!
You can buy the complete set here:
Where can I find free skin brushes for procreate?
Unfortunately, free skin brushes are hard to find. That’s because they require a lot of work to make them.
The best place to find free skin brushes for Procreate are:
- Search for free skin brush
- Brush pack demos
- Search on Youtube for demos and look in the description box for a downloadable link
Some artists offer their own skin brushes and sometimes they offer a demo that you can download for free. That’s actually how I came across Haze Long because I saw her on youtube!
How do you paint skin in Procreate
The easiest way to paint skin in Procreate is to start with a base color, followed by adding highlights and shadows, then add texture, imperfections, hair and then add lighting.
- Color variations
I wrote an article in which I explain how to create realistic skin tones.
Best skin brushes procreate for free
I understand that some people simply don’t have the budget to spend money so they like free brushes. I always say that free brushes can be as good as paid-for brushes but the chance of that happening is slim.
You can get free single skin brushes but rarely brush packs. Another downside is that you can’t ”complain” and contact the creator of the brushes because they gave it away for free anyway.
The following free Procreate brushes can be used for skin:
Tons of artists offer (free) Procreate brushes on Gumroad. Gumroad is the Etsy of digital creators and it’s very reliable. I’ve bought dozens of courses and brush packs on there so it’s definitely worth a look.
Skin texture for Procreate brush
So skin has tons of different textures.
In the following link, you can see which kinds of textures sit in specific places on the face. But these ARE NOT Procreate brushes, these are downloadable to be used in 3D projects. I only include them here so you can use them as a reference:
- Different kinds of textures on the face
- Find or create your own skin texture brushes that match these examples
TIP: Art events like Lightbox and The Art Department often have free downloadable files which they release to promote their next event. These files include artwork, tips tricks, and often demo brushes from well-known artists. This is how I once got some free brushes from the well-known Max brushes! So make sure to follow big art events socials like Lightbox.
I hope you found this helpful! Feel free to subscribe to my artletter to receive these kinds of articles in your mailbox once a month!