How to Change Layer Opacity in Procreate: Step-by-Step

How to change layer opacity in Procreate

Procreate is a comprehensive digital drawing and painting application for iPad. With millions of downloads, it’s one of the most popular drawing tools on the market and much simpler to learn than Adobe Photoshop. If you’re new to the app, here’s how to change layer opacity in Procreate,

Change the opacity layers in Procreate by clicking the Layers icon (overlapping squares top right), choosing a layer, and tapping the letter ‘N’. Adjust the slider to change the opacity of the layer. Alternatively, the quickest way is to tap the layer with two fingers and swipe your finger left or right to adjust the layer’s opacity.

The Procreate opacity feature is a powerful tool, and digital artists must get familiar with its use if they are to take their art to the next level.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can do this.

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What is Layer Opacity in Procreate?

The layer opacity tool, in the Procreate app for iPad, allows artists to adjust the transparency of a layer.

A layer with 100% opacity is solid, while a layer with 0% opacity is completely transparent.

The layer opacity tool is useful for blending layers together, softening colors, and making subtle changes to the light and darks. You can also use it to create depth by making an object fade into the background.

Layer opacity is a great way to add some subtlety and variation to your Procreate artwork. By changing the opacity of different layers, you can create effects that make your artwork pop.

So experiment with layer opacity and see what you can come up with!

Let’s begin by opening the Procreate app and using one of the pre-installed demo images. We will click on ‘Nector’

Procreate image gallery
Procreate image gallery

Change the Layer Opacity With The Opacity Slider 

First, find the layers icon at the top right corner of the screen – it’ll look like two overlapping squares. Click on it. Find the layer you want to change the opacity for, and select it. On the layer you’ve selected, tap the ‘N’ button (normal mode).

Procreate opacity icons and layers
Opacity icon and layers

This will open the blend modes menu, which is where you’ll find the opacity setting. You should see a menu pop up, with the opacity slider at the top. You can use that to change the opacity of the selected layer. 

Procreate opacity slider
Opacity slider

How to Change Layer Opacity in Procreate Layers Menu Shortcut 

You can also use a simple shortcut to change the opacity of a layer,

  1. Click on the layers icon – again, the two overlapping squares on the top right of your screen
  2. Use two fingers to tap and select the layer you’d like to change
  3. You should see a blue bar at the top of your screen with a percentage number representing the opacity level of that layer. 
  4. Drag the bar to the left to lower the opacity, or to the right to increase the opacity of your layer
  5. Finally, tap the magic wand tool to save your changes. 
Procreate Top opacity slider
Top opacity slider

How to Change the Opacity of Multiple Layers in Procreate 

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to change the opacity of multiple layers all at once in Procreate. However, one workaround is to merge multiple layers into one, then change the opacity of that one layer. 

  1. Select each layer you want to change by swiping right until they turn blue/grey, then go to the top of the layers panel and click on ‘group’. 
Procreate group layers
Group layers

Once you’ve done that, it’s a good idea to duplicate the group so you still have the individual layers available should you need them later. You can do this by finding the layer that is labeled ‘new group’, swiping left, and selecting ‘duplicate’.

N.B. make sure to uncheck the box next to the ‘new group’ label — if you don’t, you’ll be unable to see any changes you make to the opacity of the other group! 

Go back and click on the ‘new group’ label to show the settings, then click on ‘flatten’. This merges all the layers in the group into one layer that you can edit as you please. 

How to flatten group layers in Procreate

Now you can use one of the above methods to change the opacity of that single layer. Problem solved! 

How to Change the Opacity of a Selection in Procreate? 

Most of the time when working in Procreate, you’ll be changing the opacity of an entire layer at once. However, sometimes you might want only to change part of a layer, and leave the rest as is. For this, you’ll use the selection tool. 

  • 1. In the menu in the upper left of the screen, you should see a tool that looks like a ribbon, or an S shape. Click on it. 
  • 2. You’ll see a new menu at the bottom of the screen, showing the types and shapes of selections you can use. You can choose between 4 selection tools, automatic, freehand, rectangular, and ellipse. For this demo, I clicked the freehand tool.
How to change the opacity of a selection in Procreate step 1 and 2
  • 3. Draw a selection around part of the image. Tap the layer icon and use two fingers to tap the blue banner in the drop-down menu.
  • 4. Change the opacity using the blue slider at the top.
Changing the opacity of a selection in procreate steps 3 and 4

Changing the opacity of a selection only works with a two-finger tap. The ‘N’ button slider changes the opacity of the entire layer.

How to Change the Opacity of Your Brushes With Opacity Sliders 

Sometimes, you might want only to change the opacity of things you’ve drawn with a specific brush. Luckily, this is also something you can do in Procreate and in version 5.2 you can actually save your opacity preferences for individual brushes, so you don’t have to make those changes every time. 

To change the opacity of a brush, just go to the lower slider menu on the side of the screen. The bottom slider is the one you want to change, as that’s the opacity setting — the top slider will just change the size of your brush. 

Change the opacity of a brush in Procreate step 1
Change the opacity of a brush in Procreate step 2
Change the opacity of a brush in Procreate step 3

You’re also not limited to just changing the opacity on regular brushes. You can use this same trick with things such as the eraser or the smudge tool, to get the special effects you want. 

How to Change The Opacity of a Brush 

While you can change the opacity of your brushes as you please, you might want to have a second version of the same brush with a different opacity setting so you don’t have to worry about changing it back and forth. Luckily, this is fairly easy with Procreate. 

  1. Go to your brush library and find the brush you want to change. 
  2. Swipe to the left and then tap ‘duplicate’ in order to duplicate the brush. Now you have two of the same brush, and you can change the settings of the new one as much as you want. 
  3. Select the new brush you just created. It’ll have the same name as the original brush, but with the number 1 added as a suffix. You can change the name if you like. 
  4. Tap it a second time. This will open the brush studio, which allows you to change the brush settings. 
  5. Click the properties tab in the menu. Change the maximum opacity in the slider. Click ‘Done”.

Your duplicate brush has a new maximum opacity, in this demo, it was set at 82%. The opacity can still be adjusted lower using the slider on the left.

Change the opacity of a duplicate brush in Procreate step 1
Step 1
Change the opacity of a duplicate brush in Procreate step 2
Step 2
Change the opacity of a duplicate brush in Procreate step 3
Step 3
Change the opacity of a duplicate brush in Procreate step 4
Step 4
Change the opacity of a duplicate brush in Procreate step 5
Step 5

IPad Models and Useful Tools for Procreate

While technically you can use for a finger to draw with Procreate, to get the most out of the app you should buy an Apple pencil to use it properly. As always, Apple accessories are overpriced, but you can save money by buying the Logitech Crayon stylus instead.

I’ve read that Logitech pens are compatible with Apple but they lack the pressure sensitivity function.

Don’t buy a cheap Chinese looky-like on Amazon. They don’t work properly.

Another great tip is to buy a Paperlike screen protector with the uncanny texture of paper. If you are old school like me and need the feel of traditional materials, you’ll appreciate the added experience.

Procreate Works with these iPad Models: (source)

How to Change the Opacity of a Layer in Procreate Pocket 

Procreate Pocket is essentially the same app as regular Procreate, but it’s designed for iPhone rather than iPad. Due to the smaller screen size, some things might be a bit different — including the method to change layer opacity. 

  1. Go to the menu bar at the top of the screen and find the ‘modify’ tab on the left. Click it, and select the magic wand tool in the menu that opens up. 
  2. Next, select ‘opacity’ and drag the slider to the left or right to change the opacity until you’re happy with it. Easy peasy! 

Layer Opacity in Procreate: Final Thoughts

Changing the opacity in Procreate is easy to learn but just how effective it is will depend on you and your creativity. It’s an essential tool and you will find yourself tweaking the levels of opacity all the time. 

One final pro tip worth mentioning if you are a beginner, is to limit the number of layers you use as much as possible. Your iPad will have a limited capacity, and the cheaper models, with less storage, will max out quickly. If you don’t need a layer, delete it.

Don’t keep redundant layers, and don’t use two when one will do. Remember you can merge layers together.

If you are still on the fence, check this post out: Is The Procreate App Worth it For Beginners? Get the Facts

Alternatively, learn the basics cheaply. I bought this course on Domestika, and I think you will like it. It’s simple, super professional, and great for beginners.

Check out my Domestika Review here: Is Domestika Worth It? The Pros and Cons for Artists and Designers


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