In this tutorial, I will show you how to use the symmetry tools in Procreate using any free Procreate brush. This is how to find and open the Symmetry tool in brief:
Open a new canvas and tap the Wrench icon > Actions menu. Tap the Canvas icon, open the Drawing Guide, then Edit Drawing Guide. In Drawing Guides, tap Symmetry and Options. Choose a Symmetry tool, turn on Assisted Drawing, and tap Done. Start drawing.
Let’s not waste time, follow the instruction below.
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What is the Symmetry Tool and Why Use it?
Procreate has a very handy set of tools that make it easy to create symmetrical lines, shapes, and patterns in many different ways. It’s ideal for making mandalas, snowflakes, or any geometric designs.
This tool is especially handy for graphic designers but artists can also find it useful whenever they need to mirror an image with a reflection or draw symmetrical facial features, like the eyes, for example.
If you’ve ever seen a picture of a butterfly and wondered how they drew it so accurately they probably used the symmetry tools in Procreate.
How to Find the Symmetry Settings (overview)
I’ll presume you’re an absolute beginner, so let’s start from scratch.
Make a New Canvas
You need to be in the Procreate gallery. If your App doesn’t open in the Gallery straight away, you’ll see the Gallery tab at the top left-hand side of your Procreate interface. Give it a tap.
Tap the Plus symbol at the top right of your screen.
Choose your preset canvas size or tap the black rectangular icon, at the top right of the dropdown menu, and make a custom canvas.
I’ll tap the regular screen size 2048 x 1536px and the interface opens with your blank canvas.
Open the Drawing Guide
The symmetry tools are found inside the Drawing Guide setting.
Tap the Wrench icon to open the Actions menu.
Tap the Canvas icon at the top right of the dropdown menu
Scan down and open the Drawing Guide toggle button.
You’ll see a 2D grid overlay automatically appear on your canvas. Ignore it.
Tap the Edit Drawing Guide to open the Drawing Guide interface.
There are 4 guides to choose from at the bottom of your canvas. By default, Procreate opens on the first 2D Grid option.
Skim along and tap the Symmetry button. Your grid disappears. Now your canvas will show a center line with two dots, one blue and one green.
If this is the first time you’ve used the Symmetry tool it will be set to Vertical by default
You’ll see two adjustment sliders beneath, one for opacity, one for your line thickness, and another tab for Options
Tap the Options tab to open your symmetry Guide Options dropdown menu
You will see the following 4 symmetry choices:
Beneath those, you’ll see two toggles. One for Rotational Symmetry and the other for Assisted Drawing
IMPORTANT: Switch the Assisted Drawing toggle to ON.
Without the assisted drawing feature switched on your symmetry will not function.
Before we continue, I want to point out one feature that might catch you unawares.
Beneath the Done button, at the top right, you’ll notice a thin, colored, slider-bar. This bar is too close to the Done button and it’s very easy to tap it accidentally.
This slider controls the color of your guidelines and wouldn’t you know it, it’s set at white beneath the Done button.
If you hit the slider when you tap the button, your guide will vanish. This is very easy to do when you use your finger. If it happens to you, now you know why. Slide the pointer back to the left and your guidelines will reappear.
All set? Let’s go through each symmetry setting to see how they function.
How to Use the 4 Symmetry Tools in Procreate
Each tool has its own functionality, we will start with the vertical setting.
How to use the Vertical Symmetry Tool
With the default Vertical option selected and the Assisted Drawing toggled to ON, Tap Done to open the canvas in full-screen mode.
Your symmetry line runs vertically in the center of your screen and any mark you make will be mirrored on the opposite side of that line.
Draw a simple shape and it will automatically mirror itself. Hold your finger down on the line and it will smooth your line perfectly. This is the Quickshape tool at work.
How to use the Horizontal Tool
The Horizontal symmetry tool works in exactly the same way as the vertical tool. The only difference is the change of axis.
You can use the blue and green cursors in the same way, except this time, when you reset the symmetry line cursors they will default to the horizontal position. Simple.
How to use the Quadrant Tool
The Quadrant tool divides your canvas into four quarters. Draw anything in one quadrant and the line, or shape, mirrors in the other three
Draw a shape in the top left quadrant and it will reflect along the vertical axis to mirror the image in the right quadrant.
Likewise, each image is mirrored in the bottom quadrants.
How to use the Radial Tool
If you think the Quadrant mode is fun to use, you’ll enjoy the Radial tool more.
The Radial Tool divides your canvas into 8 equidistant sections. If you view your radials on a square canvas you will see them more clearly.
As well as the vertical and horizontal lines, there are two diagonal symmetry lines, making it look like a star.
If you want to make Mandalas or snowflakes, this tool is for you. Each section mirrors its neighbors perfectly. It’s like making a kaleidoscope.
How to Use Rotational Symmetry Setting
Back in Drawing Guides and under the Options > Guide Options, you will see the Rotational Symmetry toggle button. Switch it to ON.
This function works in a slightly different way. Instead of making a mirror image, it repeats the exact image in each section. One follows the other in the same direction.
Perhaps, it’s easier to show you how it works by drawing an arrow.
Each arrow is repeated in sequence and placed perfectly within each section (Triangle). They follow each other.
Compare the same arrow drawn with the Rotational Symmetry turned off, and the Radial sections mirror each arrow. Quite a difference.
These are very useful functions for certain types of art and design. Mandalas are particularly popular in coloring books and selling your designs as digital downloads could be a nice sideline.
How to Move the Symmetry Lines and Reset Them
If you wish to adjust the placing of your center line go back to the Drawing Guides settings.
Tap the Wrench to open the Actions menu, and tap Edit Drawing Guide once more.
Hold the blue spot (cursor) anywhere on your canvas and adjust the angle by sliding the green dot to the left or right.
A quick tap on either dot will reset your symmetry line back to its default position.
Tap Done to save the settings and exit the page. You will return to the full-screen canvas. Continue to draw using your new symmetry line as your guide.
How to Open a New Layer and Use Drawing Assist
So far you have drawn on one layer. To add another layer, tap the Layers icon at the top right of the screen (two squares).
It opens as a new layer without presets. If you wish to continue with the symmetry tool, tap Layer 2, and a list of commands opens up in a menu to the left.
Scan down and tap Drawing Assist. You will see ‘Assisted’ written beneath Layer 2, it’s now activated. Use it as before.
You can turn the Drawing Assist on and off by tapping any layer, but to adjust your symmetry cursors you must go back via the Wrench > Actions > Edit Drawing Guide sequence.
How to Adjust the Opacity and Thickness of Your Guidelines
You might wish to adjust the opacity, color, or thickness of your guidelines. This is how its done.
You’ll see the Opacity and Thickness sliders at the bottom of the Drawing Guides interface.
Don’t mistake the function of these sliders. They adjust the size and opacity of your guidelines only, not to adjust your brush lines.
The guidelines are to help you draw and don’t appear in your final saved image. They can be any thickness, opacity, or color, it makes no difference.
Change the color in the top color slider. If you recall I warned you about accidentally tapping the color slider when you tap the Done button.
As I alluded to before, setting your color slider to white on a white background is pointless. On the other hand, if you have a dark image, white guidelines would be very helpful.
The same is true in reverse of course, so there are good reasons you might want to change the colors as you go along.
You’ll find these posts helpful too:
- Is The Procreate App Worth it For Beginners? Get the Facts
- How to Undo in Procreate: Plus Redo Gestures (2022)
- Is it Worth Buying an iPad for Procreate?
- How to Make Straight Lines in Procreate: Step-by-Step
- How to Change Layer Opacity in Procreate: Step-by-Step
- How to Duplicate in Procreate: Copy and Paste, Cut and Clone
- How to Change Layer Opacity in Procreate: Step-by-Step
- How to Make a Stamp Brush in Procreate: Step by Step
Symmetry Tool: Final Thoughts
Things are only simple when someone pointed them out. Using the symmetry tools are straight forward when you know how to set things up and use the adjustments.
It will take a little practice to get the hang of things, but not long. You’ll be making fun and interesting designs in no time.
If you need some Procreate lessons to get to grips with this versatile app, you should follow a Procreate course for beginners. That’s what I did.
This is the one I bought on Domestika
Check out my Domestika Review here: Is Domestika Worth It? The Pros and Cons for Artists and Designers
If you want to sell your digital art as physical art prints, I can show you how!
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I have more posts about drawing and business, take a look at these:
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