procreate to illustrator

How To Transfer A File From Procreate To Illustrator

Knowing how to transfer Procreate to Illustrator will help your drawing from losing its image quality.

Procreate is an award-winning and groundbreaking app for the iPad that blends the efficiency and flexibility of digital graphics with the look and feel of traditional sketching tools on paper.

Illustrator, on the other hand, is the gold standard of graphic design that allows artists to create crisp vector graphics for logos, fonts, comics, patterns, and many more.

Combined, these tools are powerful and efficient in any graphic designer’s arsenal.

They allow the creation of drawings as if they are on paper and give it the power of the vector format. 

Looking to convert your drawing from Procreate into large scale format?

This is the best way to do it. 

This article will help take your drawing from Procreate to Illustrator and give you some tips and tricks to maximize these tools.

Overview

Take your drawing from Procreate, open it in Illustrator, and use the image trace tool to convert your image into a vector.

Sounds simple enough, right?

In essence, yes, but the charm (and power) of using Procreate for most artists is the ability to create the look of traditional hand-drawn designs which may include different textures and gradients.

If your drawing has these elements of varying textures, then there are a few more steps you will need to do to preserve these details in Illustrator.

We’ll tackle a step by step guide on how to simply transfer your Procreate file to Illustrator to convert it into a vector.

From there, we’ll also go onto further details on how to fine-tune your image trace from there.

Lastly, we’ll touch on file formats and Image Trace.

Procreate And Illustrator File Formats

Your drawing in Procreate is saved in a “.procreate” file format, which saves all layers and data in the canvass. 

You also can export your drawing to JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, PDF, and Adobe Photoshop’s PSD format.

However, most of these file formats are necessarily rasters or bitmaps, which is a “dot matrix data structure” on a rectangular grid of pixels.

To understand this, zoom in on a picture until you see each square with different colors that form the image.

Each square is a pixel and the more pixels you have per square inch, the higher the resolution of your picture. 

These file formats are limited because they can lose their quality when you enlarge or resize them.

Illustrator’s advantage is working with vector graphics comprising points, lines, and curves that use math saved in a “.ai” file.

These points, lines, and curves are mapped out in a Cartesian Coordinate System.

This coordinate system allows for vector graphics to be infinitely scaled up or down without losing quality or looking pixelated.

So your lines and curves will always be smooth using vector graphics, making Illustrator a crowd favorite for large print formats. 

Illustrator can also export to all the different raster image formats mentioned above with these formats retaining its vector quality: AI, EPS, SVG, and PDF.

Transferring Your File From Procreate To Illustrator

Once you have your desired drawing or image in Procreate, save it as a TIFF file to preserve all your color information and line clarity.

Click the wrench icon on the top left, hit share, and choose TIFF as your file format.

If you work with a MacBook or an iMac, you can choose to airdrop your file to your computer.

Otherwise, you can save and then email it to yourself and access it in your computer where Illustrator is installed.

Once you have your TIFF file from Procreate, open Adobe Illustrator and create a new file with your desired dimensions.

From Illustrator, click file, then from the dropdown, choose place and find your TIFF Files. 

Drag and drop your file onto your canvas in Illustrator .

With your Procreate drawing transferred in Illustrator, you can now use Image Trace to turn it into a vector and enjoy Illustrator’s numerous tools to improve and expand your picture.

Using Image Trace To Convert To Vector

First, we will assume that your drawing is monochromatic and was saved with just one layer in Procreate.

Click select your image in Illustrator, then object, and select Image Trace from the dropdown menu to start the image tracing process.

Sometimes, the tracing process works better if you click embed before starting the image tracing process.

Depending on how much texture your drawing has, once you click Image Trace, you will notice that you may lose some of this detail.

You can tweak the tracing process in advanced settings from the Image Trace menu by adjusting noise, tracing threshold, corners, and paths.

These options to fine-tune your image trace will be discussed in the next sections.

For now, let’s assume that you are satisfied with the way your image trace turned out.

You can leave the image file as is and be able to change the color as you please.

Tick the ignore white option if you want the white parts of your drawing to be transparent.

You can stop here and save your File, but if you want to edit or adjust some parts of your drawing, you can click expand to convert it into a full vector file.

With a full vector file, you can adjust the shapes or different parts of your drawing as you see fit.

If you are fully satisfied with the results, you can save it as AI, EPS, SVG, or PDF and it will be readily scalable to large formats.

A quick informative video about the highlights of the process is found here.

A simple step-by-step hand lettering drawn from Procreate and then converted to vector in Illustrator is found here.

Preserve The Textures Of Your Drawing With Advanced Settings Of Image Trace

Procreate’s best feature lies in its ability to simulate traditional sketching tools like pencils and brushes.

This allows artists to effortlessly add texture, gradients, and different elements to their drawings.

You can adjust Image Trace to preserve these details when you have these different textures in the drawing that you want to transfer to Illustrator.

Once you have your File in Illustrator, click Image Trace, and access the Image Trace menu to open up the tools you can use to adjust your drawing.

Again, assuming that you have a monochromatic drawing, you can preserve those textures by following these steps. 

Advanced Settings

The threshold allows you to adjust the detail in your image trace with a lower value giving you less information.

Noise adjusts the threshold around a specified area in pixels that is ignored when tracing.

A higher value indicates less noise.

For example, in painting, when you make a line with a brush along with a canvas and run out of paint on the bristles, the color will begin to “fade,” or your solid line will become “jagged.”

The small dots and dashes in the details of this gradient from a solid stroke to a jagged or a broken line are the details that can be missed in an Image Trace with a higher noise threshold.

You may need to play around with these settings if you intend to preserve these different textures in your Procreate image.

Another setting is paths, which controls the distance between the original shape (in pixels) and the traced shape.

A lower value creates a looser path fitting, and a higher value will produce a tighter path fitting.

Keeping with the example of a brush with a higher path fitting, the Image Trace will follow your stroke more closely.

Think of it like cutting a shape, say a square, out of paper by following a drawn guide closely. 

The square is your original drawing and if you set the path threshold high, you entirely cut the square’s image by following the guides.

If your path threshold is low, you might end up with an imperfect cutout of your square.

Another adjustment you can make is using the corner threshold/

The higher value of the corner threshold will give you more corners in your image trace.

Play around with the levels of these advanced settings to see how you can tease out the different textures.

Tools Within Image Trace

There are many other tools within Image Trace that you can play around with.

The ones mentioned above can be the most useful for tracing your drawings to convert them to vectors.

The settings you choose will depend on the style of your drawing and how much detail you need to transfer as a vector in Illustrator.

This page about Illustrator’s Image Trace Tool describes all the functions of Image Trace in detail.

The page also describes several presets you can use to tweak your Image Tracing to your preference further.

Tracing Per Layer

If your Procreate drawing has more elements, details, and colors, you may want to use layers to your advantage.

Layers will allow you to separate your Procreate drawing per element, transfer it into Illustrator, and create a vector for each.

The tips shared above for preserving or teasing out the details of your drawing will apply to each of your transferred layers.

When you transfer and then perform Image Trace for each TIFF file of a layer in your Procreate drawing into Illustrator, you can just arrange them again in their same layers as needed.

To do this for each element, click on the layers tool box and click add a new layer.

Give this layer a name corresponding to the element in your drawing so you won’t be confused later on.

For example, if you have a layer for leaves in your drawing, name them as “leaves.”

Open your TIFF file containing your leaves and place them into your “leaves” layer in Illustrator and then perform the Image Trace.

In the same Illustrator file, create a new layer corresponding to another element from your Procreate drawing, place the next TIFF file onto the new layer and perform another Image Trace.

Repeat these steps for you to have all your different elements, textures, and colors from your Procreate drawing transferred into Illustrator.

More On Layers

The use of layers is recommended so you can recreate different colors, textures, and elements easily from your Procreate into Illustrator.

Layers will also allow you for greater flexibility in manipulating your drawing to your liking.

This is useful if, for example, you intend to use your drawing from Procreate as a base for patterns and designs in Illustrator.

Creating a vector from each of the elements of your drawing will allow you to easily adjust and edit them in Illustrator .

Say you have a beautiful sketch of some fishes and corals that you wish to create into a beautiful pattern for print on a shower curtain or bed covers.

You can transfer all your fishes as one layer into Illustrator and then perform the Image Trace on this layer.

Then all your corals will be in another layer or perhaps the bubbles in your water in another.

When each of these elements in your drawing becomes a separate vector in Illustrator, you can recolor, resize, reposition, and/or duplicate your liking.

It gives you the freedom to manipulate these elements in Illustrator before combining them back with the rest of your drawing.

Another way to look at working with layers is to separate by color.

For example, in a drawing of a vase of flowers, you can put all green leaves into one layer, all pink or yellow.

Once you transfer to Illustrator and each element is a vector, you can quickly pick and choose from different shades or make a pattern using multiple combinations!

This article has a more in-depth description of how you can transfer your drawing from Procreate to Illustrator while preserving the different elements.

Tips On Transferring Different Elements Using One Layer

If you find it too tedious to work with layers but want to transfer the different elements of your drawing into an Illustrator file, then there’s an easy workaround.

You just have to separate each element of your drawing and then save it into a single TIFF image file. 

Place this file into Illustrator and perform the Image Tracing steps above until the expand step.

Make sure to tick “ignore white space” in the options to make the background transparent.

This will create a separate vector for each element in your TIFF drawing from Procreate into just one layer.

From here, you can just select each element, go into isolate mode and make your edits and adjustments, or arrange each element into separate layers in your Illustrator file.

To do this, just click the element, cut or copy it into a new layer.

More Tips

If you already have a drawing in Procreate that’s in different layers, you can drag the elements of your drawing into different parts of the canvas then save it into a single image.

For example, if you have a drawing of a bicycle in Procreate with each part of the bike in different layers, separate these elements so that they are not “overlapping.”

Save a copy of your final drawing in its original arrangement before you do this so that you can go back to it for reference.

You can do this by copying the drawing, placing it in another layer in Procreate, and juggling the layer view as “hidden” by ticking the checkbox on the right-hand side.

When you have the image of your “dissected bicycle” ready, save it in TIFF, place it in Illustrator, and perform the Image Tracing steps.

You should get a separate vector for each part of your bicycle. You can easily edit, scale, or recolor before putting the drawing back together.

Manual Tracing For Fine Tuning

Finally, if you have details in your Procreate drawing that do not trace well in Illustrator after you transfer the file, you can manually determine each feature using the pen tool.

Imagine the traditional way of sketching images using tracing paper but digitally and with more precision.

To do this, once you have the image of your drawing from Procreate in Illustrator, change the opacity of this layer, and add a new layer on top of it.

You can then zoom in on this new layer on any details that the Image Trace missed and manually trace them using the pen tool in Illustrator.

From Illustrator, it will be easy to add these details to the rest of the image using the pathfinder toolbox and the shape mode functions, such as unite or intersect.

For more details, this tutorial has an in-depth guide for tracing images manually in Illustrator.

Final Thoughts

If you are an artist that works better using traditional sketching tools but want the functionality and flexibility of vectors, then the Procreate – Illustrator “one-two punch” combo is perfect for you.

Instead of using the often intimidating tools in Illustrator to create your drawing, you can just sketch them on an iPad using Procreate.

From there, you can transfer your drawing from Procreate to Illustrator to convert it into a vector graphic and enjoy the advantages of infinite scalability for large scale formats or easily create patterns and combinations.

Transferring your drawing from between the two apps is just the first step.

If you are a severe graphic artist, you can integrate these tools into your workflow and create beautiful digital drawings effortlessly and more efficiently than ever before.

For other interesting articles, do check the list below.

10 Best Graphics Tablets for Your Digital Art. Level-up Your Digital Art Process

10 Best iPad Drawing Boards For Digital Illustrators & Artists And Their Reviews

10 Best Gift Ideas For Digital Artists & Illustrators: Recommended by Professional Artists – Give Them A Gift They Will Love!

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