3 essential steps to prepare your Procreate artwork for print

Something I see asked a lot in the Procreate community is ‘how do I print my lettering from Procreate?’.  Maybe you want to print out a hand-made card on your home printer. Or maybe you have a poster or logo design you want to print professionally.

The short answer is, sorry but you can’t print directly from Procreate. Well not as far as choosing a ‘Print’ option from the drop-down menu. But never fear, this doesn’t mean your artwork is confined to the screen forever! I’ll show you how you can create your artwork + export in the right format to give best format for printing. We’ll also look at one key step after Procreate using Affinity Designer on the iPad (or Photoshop on desktop).

You may not be surprised to hear it all starts with your setup. Yes, just like a lot of things, good preparation is key. Once you know these 3 key properties we’re about to cover, you’ll be confident in how to make hi-quality artwork that’s ready for print!

The video below will cover an explanation of what each of the important factors are, and then we’ll look at how to set up your canvas in Procreate step-by-step as well as exporting and preparing for print.


Edit (12 Dec 2019) : Procreate 5 was just released earlier this week – we now have the ability to use CMYK color straight in the app without using Affinity Designer. You can find this option under the ‘Color profile’ settings when you create a new canvas. 

The 3 Essential Steps

1. Color Format

Apart from the missing ‘print’ button, Procreate (as well as all other digital applications) work with RGB (Red, Green, Blue) color profile. This is suitable for digital work, but real-world printing uses a different color setting called CMYK, which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (well, the K stands for ‘Key’ but color wise, it’s black). And bonus points if you already guessed – these reference individual ink cartridge colors!

It’s important to note, your colors may look less vibrant once you change to CMYK. This is because CMYK has only a subset of the RBG gamut, so some RGB colours will be converted to their closest CMYK match.

Please note: I am highlighting best practices to aim for when printing your work, but if you are just wanting to print something for yourself on your home computer, these colour profile choices may not impact you as much. The RGB profile can still produce a pretty decent looking result for printing something DIY. If however you are printing regularly or for clients, it is important you are using the correct CMYK color format.

2. Physical dimensions

Knowing what physical dimensions you (or your client) need for the final product is essential information when setting up your canvas. You don’t want to create a 5”x5” artwork if you’re printing 10”x15”.

It’s not only about the canvas size being large enough, but also about the proportions. It can be difficult making something that was designed to be a rectangle shape fit snugly inside a square canvas!

If you are printing with a professional printer, I would suggest going a little above the final dimensions to allow for bleed. Bleed this means the printer can trim the edges of the print and the ink of the print will how right to the very edge. Imagine, if you are cutting around a coloured image and there is a white border around the sides, you will most likely see this white in places the cut wasn’t accurate. So bleed is to avoid this! If you are printing professionally, the printer may have a template you can use, or give you information about how much bleed they require. Again, bleed is only really necessary for professional printing jobs. You can read more about bleed here.

3. Resolution

Along with physical canvas size, another important factor is resolution. You can manually set the resolution for your canvas when you create in the ‘Create Custom Size’ option of the menu from the gallery screen.

Make sure you set 300dpi (or 600dpi for really hi-res) to ensure your artwork contains enough detail. Again, this should be done when you first create the canvas. You will lose quality and start to see pixelation in the image if you increase the resolution after creating the artwork.

Useful links

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