Become a watercolor artist

New to painting? Dabble with Procreate’s beginner-friendly brushes.

The illustration app Procreate, available for iPad, provides aspiring Van Goghs with hundreds of brushes, pens, and other tools to choose from – and it’s all wonderful. But how do you know where to begin?

We recommend starting with watercolor, one of the most forgiving styles.

You don't have to be an art student (or own a beret) to paint a beautiful work. Just experiment with these tips:

Embrace the Gouache brush

Picking the right brush in Procreate is half the battle, and you can't go wrong with the Gouache option. To find it, tap the brush icon at the top right, then select Artistic > Gouache.

You'll see two sliders on the left edge of the screen. The top one adjusts the width of your brush (we brought ours down to about 50%). The lower slider adjusts the brush's opacity (we set ours to max). To select a paint color, tap the circle in the upper-right corner of the screen.

Now that your brush is set up, start by sketching out rough shapes. We painted a simple plant pot, then added large leaves. Think shapes, not details, and you'll be fine.

One idea to keep in mind: you can darken the color by painting over an area twice. We used this technique to create a shadow on the left side of the pot and variations in the leaves.

Harden the edge

Now it's time to add the stems. We used a brush called “Blotchy” (tap the brush icon > Calligraphy > Blotchy). It has a harder, more textured edge that’s great for line work.

Not happy with something you drew? Fear not – you can undo by tapping two fingers anywhere on the screen.

Advanced tip: Before we started painting the steps, we created a new “layer” in Procreate to make the work easier to edit later. We'll cover layers in more depth in another tutorial.

Get your fill

Return to the Gouache brush to fill in the foreground and background. For a nice even color, keep your finger or Apple Pencil on the screen continuously instead of lifting it repeatedly. Go with long, confident strokes rather than a cluster of short, tentative ones. Painting in all different directions will give your picture a handmade feel.

Advanced tip: You might notice that we used the eraser tool to clean up the top edge of the floor we drew. Any brush can also be used as an eraser – it's an easy way to get a smoother edge.

Go organic

For the last step, we added white veins to the leaves using the Ink Bleed brush (tap the brush icon > Inking > Ink Bleed). It has a rougher texture and a bit of jitter, which gives it a very natural feel.

Again, don't worry about being perfect. Notice how we went outside the lines in places? It's all good! Just go for it and have fun. Undo is always a double tap away.