10 Best Procreate Vintage and Retro Brushes (Free & Paid Brush Packs)
The new global trend in the emerging and ever-accelerating digital art world is Procreate, an iOS app available for anyone with an iPad and preferably, an Apple Pencil.
Whether you’re an aspiring professional or a leisure hobbyist in the vintage and retro niche of the digital art world, your tools will always be a crucial asset to your success.
Procreate comes with default brushes, but if you want to take your artwork to the next level, you’re going to have to search for brushes online to purchase or download for free as an add-on to the app.
But there are hundreds of brush sets out there and people eager to convince you of buying their expensive products, so how do you navigate?
Not everyone can afford all those brushes, and most of them end up being rarely used.
Sometimes I wonder why brush sets are always priced so high when the sellers ought to know that many Procreate users are young people taking a risk in their lives to pursue a passion as a professional career or teenagers just trying something out for fun.
Either way, neither of these groups of people are likely going to want to pay for a full archive of brushes, most of which will end up being rarely used, except on special occasions where a drawing requires some quirky element.
To save you some money and from piling up brushes in your Procreate folder until it becomes an unnavigable drawer of forgotten, unwanted files, this article is going to cover the ten best brushes you can get as an add-on to Procreate.
In particular, we’re going to focus on brushes that are either vintage and retro-inspired or that are capable of being used as practical tools in vintage and retro art of all sorts.
(Note: the products listed below aren’t in any notably ranked order).
This brush set contains 16 brushes.
This brush set invites you to create beautiful Bob Ross-like canvas paintings with a couple of strokes, without the headache of real-life painting.
From personal experience, painting on a canvas in real life means you also commit to the cleaning and drying of palettes, paintbrushes, aprons, and tolerating a pile of abandoned stained clothes concocted by a series of paint spills and splatters.
The real-life canvas painting hassle, and inconvenience discourages many from trying it out (despite how beautiful its results tend to be). Still, this brush set lets you have the same experience at creating a canvas masterpiece, only digitally where you’ll be cleared from having to worry about laundry and doing the dishwashing chores of a painter.
Brushes specialize in creating effects for different elements of nature; for instance, the set features a tiny fan brush used for making grass and a smudge brush for blending fluffy clouds.
With enhanced blending and texture, the artwork you create with these brushes will surely portray Bob Ross’ artistic style: captivating and elegant, yet simultaneously calming and relaxing to appreciate.
The set also comes with four texture overlay JPEGs to help you create a realistic canvas effect.
Achieving a realistic canvas look on digital art is difficult even with good tools and experience, especially if you’re aiming for a Bob Ross theme too.
This brush set will be rewarding for those who aren’t afraid to challenge themselves and are willing to spend the time to master this brush set (its breathtaking results 一 if done right 一 are worth it though) but could be potentially frustrating for less invested procreate artists.
This brush set contains 51 brushes in total.
This brush set is inspired by retro comics and graphic novel designs that are vivid, vibrant, and simplistic in their style.
This particular set is only one part of the entire halftone comic brush collection.
However, it features a variety of brush textures such as basic lines, dots, tiny squares, and inky squares that is sufficient for you to get started at a low price.
Additionally, the set also comes with an archive of PDFs that will guide you through the installation process and your first retro drawings.
Retro graphic design is a great choice for traditional artists transitioning into digital art as other techniques such as sketching take longer to get used to on a device.
The images used in the advertising for this brush set is photoshopped, so its results can be potentially misleading.
A large number of brushes can be slightly overwhelming to navigate, especially for people new to procreate.
This brush pack contains a variety of 13 ink and sketching brushes.
Inspired by the style of retro American West art from the 50s and 60s era, these brushes are perfect for throwback procreate artists who love capturing designs of nature in simple yet detailed and delicate forms.
These are great for designs modeling postcards, pennants, decals, patches, and stamps from the 50s and 60s.
You’ll find a wide variety of brushes included in the set, and they should be sufficient for almost all the elements of a black and white masterpiece, from the basic sketch to adding in details, blending, and other textures.
The brushes also have high-pressure sensitivity, meaning you’ll feel like you’re sketching on paper, where your hand has a lot of control over your pen or pencil.
This is especially good for Procreate artists who have only recently transitioned from traditional drawing materials (pencil/pen and paper) to digitized materials, as it’s the art style with the most similarity to a real-life feel due to its simplicity.
Since this brush set is designed specifically for classic illustrations, it doesn’t contain any other color option other than the traditional black.
You’ll be restricted firmly to the only supplies used by commoners in the 1950s and 60s, not the rich, sophisticated tech elite.
For vibrant color enjoyers, this brush set might not be enough on its own to satisfy your cravings; the entire genre of ink art would be a similar letdown too.
This bundle contains four different brush sets, each with 15 brushes.
Alternatively, to purchasing all the classic mid-century four brush packs separately, you can opt-in to buying this bundle, which contains all of them, but saves you a total of about $38 compared to purchasing each of its brush sets separately (a total of $60).
You’ll be getting the mid-century brush pack, the liner brush pack, the dry brush pack, and the texture brush pack all in a package wrapped together.
Its great price comes great value as well.
These brushes will help you create realistic tones, textures, and blending with your brush strokes, while still preserving an abstract and cartoon look that emulates vibrant children’s books and posters from the 1950s and 60s.
The initial high-cost is a good investment in the long-run, but still quite expensive at the beginning.
So if you’re unsure whether this art style is one you genuinely will use for a good amount of time, then it wouldn’t be the wisest choice to spend such a large quantity of money and buy four entire brush sets together just for the sake of a good deal.
You should be sure that this is an art style you’re willing to use regularly, beyond just exploration for fun (which is important, but you don’t need to waste so much money for).
This set contains more than 16 brushes and has had many updates (newly added brushes) since it was first launched.
Price: Free (pay what you want)
This brush set to embrace the simplistic design of traditional ink art through a less messy means of procreate.
The set comes with brushes with different thicknesses and textures, including some with a smooth feel and others that are rougher.
Just like using a pen in real life, these brushes produce varying effects when used at different angles, tilts, speeds, and pressure points.
Afterward, you can also smudge the lines made by the brushes to incorporate elements of traditional blending and sketching into your ink art.
The flexibility in the use of these ink art brushes is quite limited.
As they are specialized for ink art, black is the only color (or shade, rather) that the brushes come in.
If you want your drawings to have color, you can still add color by using other brushes, but you would need to obtain other brush sets along with this one.
Similar to what we’ve already discussed in Number 3 (the Classic Illustration Brush Pack), this isn’t for vibrant color lovers!
This set contains 166 brushes and other painting tools.
Price: €5.99 ($6.59)
This brush set is a huge collection of acrylic, oil paints, and dry media brushes that all meet a professional standard.
For such a large quantity of high-quality brushes, the price is ridiculously low, and one of the best brush set deals you’ll find on the internet.
The amount you save and the products you get in total are unbelievable: you get 166 brushes for only about $7, versus getting only around 30, or at most 70, in most other purchases after coughing up $15.
A free guide of the different brushes, which attaches sample images of the stroke each produces and explanation of their uses (some with technical jargon, but simply worded parts too), is available on DAUB’s website without purchase, for free.
You can also access the guide from the link here.
The brush strokes from this set are mind-blowingly similar to those on real watercolor or oil painting canvases.
These brushes aren’t inspired by anything vintage or retro, so merely using the brushes won’t make it evident that your artwork is meant to be a throwback theme.
They can be maneuvered to portray modern abstract art or classic art (which can be a potential bonus point if you want more dynamic uses from one purchase), so you’ll have to work hard to deliberately construct a persona of a throwback 50s or 60s figure.
7. Distressed Halftone Brushes for Procreate
This brush set contains 42 brushes in total.
Brushes come in 2 different types of halftone brushes: 21 are pressure-sensitive to give you a gradated effect, and the other 21 will give you perfectly smooth edges.
These brushes are designed to help you work fast and conveniently.
You’ll be able to paint on a halftone with only one stroke, which you can adjust the scale, color, and shape (to fit a part of the drawing) in advance.
This set is perfect for less-invested artists looking to complete a quick sketch, or simply anyone who can’t afford to lose precious time creating their halftones.
This set is very limited in color; its advertising suggests that it only comes in shades of gold and pale warm-orange rose color.
Your drawings could end up looking quite similar if you use these brushes in every single one of them.
This brush set contains 73 stippling brushes.
The sea and sailor vibes of this brush set to capture one of the most magnificent forms of retro art, artwork that portrays a ship’s adventurous journeys.
Although keep in mind that these brushes aren’t limited to only drawings of boats and sea-related stuff, they can be used to draw a variety of objects from the old eras.
In the set, you’ll find 24 shader stippling brushes, 24 fixed stippling brushes, 15 detail stippling brushes, eight liners, and two specialty star and dot brushes.
Stippling textures are also fixed within each design of each brush, which ensures that your strokes maintain consistent texture throughout.
Some reviewers online have said that its texture is so stable throughout that it’s suitable for dotting tattoo designs, which, indeed, does take sharp precision.
However, you can change the setting of the brush to gradually fade from one end to the other on every brushstroke if you want.
Finally, its pricing is also quite decent; it’s fairly similar to the price of most other brush sets, but it contains more brushes than the average (50-60).
Stippling brushes can only be used when drawing unrealistic art, as it reveals that the artwork is a drawing from the brush strokes composed of a mosaic of tiny dots.
These brushes provide a meticulous stippling effect, but it can’t be used interchangeably as a blending tool in realistic pieces.
This brush set contains 73 brush sets.
These brushes can give your drawing a new surface look, a new background, or particular spot textures.
Note that most of the backgrounds and surfaces come in the form of images (png. and pnd. files) that have a fixed design and a transparent background that you lay on top of your drawings.
So in those cases, you won’t have as much control in where exactly each pattern goes and how the background would fill in small spaces and fit into the entire picture.
Unlike other sets we’ve just finished going over, this one isn’t for creating the drawing, or to be in the spotlight, itself, rather its purpose is to make what you already have even more glamorous than it already is.
Think of it as the frame that surrounds your painting, and completes its standing as a finished, polished work of art.
It isn’t the main course, but it’s a must-have to impress your customers.
This pack contains a lot of different textures, so you should always be able to find a texture that suits the feel of the drawing in question.
Some examples of the backgrounds and surfaces offered by these brushes are a marble effect, a rusted effect, and a splattered paint effect.
The brushes include grainy, sandy, imprinted effects, amongst many others.
Not all drawings are enhanced by adding additional textures, so this brush may not be suitable for certain artworks.
As mentioned above, some of the textures will be less precise in their applications because they’re in the form of images instead of individual brushes that you fill in manually.
10. Procreate Engrave and Decay Brush Set
This brush set contains eight brushes.
A small investment, but a worthwhile one for an important detail that can complete the throwback look of your designs.
As its name suggests, this brush set will give your drawing a decaying vibe.
It won’t ruin the magnificence of your artwork, don’t worry.
Your lines will still be well-defined and clearly outlining your imagination, except at some parts, it may have a slight inconsistency or flaw 一 that brings your drawing to life.
Don’t be afraid to give your drawing the last final touch using these brushes to put yourself at an edge over other vintage and retro artists.
You might sometimes want to preserve the clean, fresh look of your newly created drawing, so a decaying vibe might not always suit your case.
The entire set also only contains nine brushes but is placed at a high price of $19.
To Wrap Up
Procreate is a wonderful resource for aspiring artists in the new digital world.
Although it might seem like a big hassle choosing between brushes and doing so much research, the tool still offers invaluable convenience, innovation, and accessible professionalism.
Vintage and retro art is often underappreciated for its ability to entertain an audience and be powerful from self-expression for artists.
My favorite part about throwback art remixed with digital art is that it appears to be a magical paradox or a contrast between the past and the present and the future of our world’s development.
These brush sets express the beauty of all three.