Creating a Brush Lettering Brush in Proceate

Friends, as many of you know, I am pretty much obsessed with lettering digitally on my iPad Pro. I, like most other lettering artists, use the app Procreate, and today I want to show you how you can create your own Procreate brush that will act just like your favorite real-life brush pens!

Create Your Own Procreate Brush: Digital Hand Lettering

Before I get started with the tutorial, let me address a few FAQ about digital lettering.

1. Do you have to have an iPad Pro?

The short answer is YES. Although you can technically do some things on a Surface or through another program, if you want to do the kind of digital lettering you see your favorite artists and designers doing, you need the right tools. I have heard that the Wacom tablet has some similar capabilities, but from everything I hear, if you’re going to invest in that, you might as well invest in this instead.

2. Can’t you get Procreate on other versions of the iPad?

Yes. The problem is that the other important piece of the puzzle is the Apple Pencil. It responds to pressure, like your normal brush pens do, and that makes it unlike a regular stylus. While you can technically load Procreate on other Apple devices, it doesn’t work right for our purposes without the Apple Pencil, which is only compatible {sadly} with the iPad Pro.

3. What apps do I need?

Procreate. It’s incredibly inexpensive for all the features it gives you. You’ll love it.

4. What size iPad Pro do I need?

It doesn’t matter. I have the big one because this is my business. If it’s just a hobby and money is tight, go small, it’ll still work just the same.

Now, let’s move on to creating your brush!

Creating a Brush Calligraphy Brush

Step 1: Select the brush icon and choose the “+” in the top right corner.

This is the drop down menu that will appear. The brush will show up in whatever section you were in when you tapped the plus sign, so consider that before you select it.

Creating a Brush Lettering Brush in Proceate

Step 2: Give your brush a name.

I called mine “Brush Calligraphy,” but you could also use “Brush Pen,” or anything else you like. Call it “Fred,” if you really want to, it’s your app. Just choose something that will remind you what it is. To change the name, just tap on the existing words, “Untitled Brush,” erase them, and type in your own.

Step 3: Choose a shape and grain source.

When you tap the empty box under “shape source,” it will give you options for where to import the shape from. Choose “Pro Library.”

Creating a Brush Lettering Brush in Proceate

To achieve the calligraphy look, you’ll want to scroll down through the options and select “Oval.” For future reference, though, there are a ton of shapes to choose from! The circles are great for a monoline style brush and some of the others make some really cool visual effects. For the moment, though, choose Oval, and you’ll be taken back to the window where you select the shape and grain sources. 

For the grain source, you’ll want to scroll down and choose the black square labeled “Blank.” This simply means there will be no texture to your brush, just a solid filled-in line. Again, there are some really fun options for other types of brushes, but to get the look of a normal brush pen, choose the blank option.

Now, your menu should look exactly like this:

Creating a Brush Lettering Brush in Proceate

Now, we have to tweak the other settings to make it behave like a brush pen! We’re going to start from the left across the bottom menu and work our way to the right until we’ve set everything just the way we want it.

Step 4: Adjust the Stroke settings.

Honestly, I have very little idea what the stroke plot settings actually mean but I figured out by trial and error how to set them to get the look I wanted. I set the spacing at 3.8% {anywhere between 3.5 and 4 should work!}, the streamline at about 50%, and the jitter to 0. 

The taper settings affect whether or not your line tapers off at the beginnings and ends of each stroke you make. I chose to have no tapering at the start of the lines and the max amount of taper at the ends. Opacity controls whether or not the tapered line fades, and size controls how much it tapers off. Feel free to play around with the sliders to see how you like the look personally, but if you want it to look just like mine, you’ll want to set the first one to none and the others to max.

When you’re done, the first group of settings should look like this:

Creating a Brush Lettering Brush in Proceate

Step 5: Adjust the shape settings.

I set these to none and 0 and kept both toggles off. These basically control brushes where there are random flicks or groupings of shapes, like the preset brushes for splatter spray paint, snow, and water splashes. Since we are working with just one solid line, these are not necessary.

Creating a Brush Lettering Brush in Proceate

Step 6: Adjust the grain behavior settings.

For our purposes, we want our movement set to “rolling” and our scale pretty close to 100% {mine is around 98}. We want no zoom and no rotation. Switch the “filtered” toggle on. The settings in this section should look like this image:

Creating a Brush Lettering Brush in Proceate

Step 7: Adjust the dynamics.

Switch on the “Glazed” setting, and slide Flow to Max. Otherwise, everything in this section should be zero or off. Quite frankly, I have almost no idea what any of these settings mean or do, so I looked at some of the other brushes I like to figure out how to set them.

Creating a Brush Lettering Brush in Proceate

Step 8: Adjust the Pencil settings.

The Pressure settings are a huge deal for us, since we want our Apple Pencil to respond to our changes in pressure the same way a brush pen would react on paper. I set Opacity to 0%, because I don’t want my line to fade in darkness/saturation at all when I change the pressure. I also slid Softness to zero, because I don’t want that to change at all either. What we DO want to change is the size of the line. This is what gives us the brush calligraphy look of a thicker line with a pressurized down stroke and a thinner line with a lighter up stroke. My setting is about 85%. You can certainly play around with sliding this up and down to see how it looks. Around 85% is my personal favorite look as far as the contrast between hard and light pressure goes.

Angle is another very important setting as far as how your pen behaves. I like to keep this around 10%. Opacity and size in this section should be zero.

Creating a Brush Lettering Brush in Proceate

Step 9: Adjust your General settings.

This is the final group of settings, because you have already set the sources. First, you’ll want to turn on the “Orient to iPad Screen” option. Leave the other option off. The size limits will affect how small and how large your brush can become when you use the slider on your main screen. I keep my minimum around 0.5% and my max around 80%. The opacity controls set how saturated and opaque your stroke can become when you use the slider on the main screen. My minimum is around 3%, max is 100%.

Creating a Brush Lettering Brush in Proceate

Once you’ve adjusted all of these settings, you should have an awesome brush that mimics the behavior of some of your favorite real-life brush pens! If you want something a little different, play around with the various sliders and you’ll see through trial and error how they affect the look of your brush strokes. Once you get the hang of it, you can have fun creating other types and styles of brushes too!

This brush is my absolute go-to anytime I do hand lettering. The look of it varies depending on how I set the size when I’m working, so I can get the appearance of a fudenosuke pen as well as a larger tip like the Dual Brush Pens. Here are a few samples of designs I’ve created using my custom brush. This first one uses a monoline brush for the print and my brush for the script.

Creating a Brush Lettering Brush in ProceateFor this design, I used my custom brush for everything except the mug and “or.”

Creating a Brush Lettering Brush in Proceate

Whaddya think? I hope this is helpful to you in creating a brush that will make all your digital lettering dreams come true! Let me know how it worked out in the One Artsy Mama Facebook group, and let me know what other types of tutorials you’d like to see.

Digital Hand Lettering: Create a Procreate Brush Pen

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  1. Thank you for “holding my hand” through this! I haven’t had the time (or courage) to play around on my own, and your tutorial helped me get over the fear!

  2. Thanks for the great tutorial!! If you want to make your own shape source and grain source, what should the pixel size be?

    1. A monoline brush is one that makes a single solid line of a consistent width no matter how much or how little pressure you apply.

  3. Thanks so much. I had no idea how to do this so this was a great help. I made this one and then duplicated it and made a few changes for a second brush. Cool!

  4. You have saved me hours of frustration trying to get the right look – THANK YOU! Any chance you can share how you get the project off the iPad and onto another medium? Like paper, wood, canvas etc? Obviously I’m a novice and haven’t even figured out Procreate yet….

    1. You are so welcome! Once you create the file, you can save and print it to paper. You can also upload it to places like Shutterfly or Zazzle to have it turned into canvas, a mug, a shirt, etc.

  5. Thank you for this tutorial. These step-by-step instructions make learning very easy. I have made another brush already!

  6. I can’t thank you enough for this awesome tutorial! My husband bought me an iPad Pro 12.9 this past Saturday and I did a search on Safari and your tutorial came up. This is not only a great tutorial, it is also an awesome brush you helped me to create, I love it! Thank you so very much!

  7. Thank you so much for this tutorial!! I have a question though… I couldnt find a “blank” black square in my grain library…. do you know where i could get one or how to make one??
    Thanks :

    1. So, when you went to Pro Library, did you scroll way down? For me, “blank” is pretty far down, in between “shade” and “diagonal.”

  8. Thanks you so much for this. I’ve been learning brush lettering since December and decided to take the digital leap this morning. I could see that the standard brushes in Procreate were pretty different from from fude hardtip and this post helped me get something much more familiar to work with.

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