Procreate is a fantastic app for creating art, but it has one drawback – the layer limitation. This limitation can be a bit frustrating, especially if you are coming from creating art in Photoshop where you don’t have to worry about the number of layers available. In Procreate, the number of layers available depends on several factors, including the canvas dimensions, the amount of RAM available on your iPad model, and the version of iPadOS and Procreate you are using.
In this article, we will delve into the relationship between canvas size and layers in Procreate. We’ll examine how the dimensions of your canvas and the amount of RAM on your iPad can impact the number of layers available to you. Furthermore, we will provide guidance on selecting the ideal canvas size for your projects and offer suggestions for managing layers when working with a limited number of them.
One of the main factors that determines the amount of layers is the size of your canvas. It can be set in pixels or in a combination of DPI and width and height in millimeters, centimeters, or inches. For example, if you create a 10×10 inch canvas with 300 DPI on your iPad, it would give you 55 layers. But if for the same canvas you change the DPI to 500, then the layer limit would go down to 17. As you can see, the bigger the canvas, the fewer layers are available.
Another important factor is the amount of RAM on your iPad. The rule of thumb is that more memory equals more layers. However, it’s important to note that memory (RAM) is not the same as storage. Apple doesn’t disclose how much memory is in each model, except for the ones with M chips, so usually 3rd party apps are used to gather this information. If you’re currently looking for an iPad, I’d suggest getting one with as much RAM as you can afford. For example, I used an iPad Pro 2018 with 4GB of RAM for a long time, and I never ran into the issue with simple drawings where I did not have enough layers.
iPadOS and Procreate version
It’s also important to keep in mind that Procreate doesn’t have access to all the RAM on the iPad. Apple updates iPadOS from time to time and some updates may improve apps performance. For example, when Apple introduced the iPad Pro on the M1 chip, just a small portion of memory was available for apps in the beginning before necessary updates were rolled out. Make sure you have the latest versions of both iPadOS and Procreate on your iPad.
How many layers do you need
The number of layers you need depends on your style of drawing and how you work. If you’re someone who likes to draw different illustration elements on separate layers, you might need more layers. On the other hand, if you’re someone who likes to work with fewer layers, you might not need as many. I usually work with a DPI no lower than 300 and canvas size no less than 3000-4000px. I also like to draw different illustration elements on separate layers, so I easily use anywhere from 25 to 35 layers per illustration.
How to free up layers
When you find yourself in a situation of running out of layers in Procreate, there are a few things you can do. One solution is to merge the already existing layers. Usually, I combine layers that I know I won’t redraw or retouch anymore. And while this is not a perfect solution, sometimes it is the only one.
What canvas size to choose after all?
When it comes to choosing a canvas size for your digital artwork or graphic design projects, there are a few factors to consider. The first thing to think about is the intended use of the image. If you’re creating artwork for personal use or for use on social media, a smaller canvas size of 2000×2000 pixels may be sufficient. You always can evaluate how the images will be used in the future and switch based on your needs.
However, if you’re creating images for professional use, such as for advertising or for printing in books, a larger canvas size of 4000×4000 pixels and higher may be more appropriate.
How to adjust canvas size
Procreate allows for flexible editing of your drawings. To crop and resize your canvas, simply navigate to Actions > Canvas > Crop & Resize. This will bring up the Crop and Resize menu, where you can adjust the grid to fit your desired shape. With this feature, you can easily change the size and proportions of your canvas, making it larger or smaller as needed. Whether you want to focus on a specific aspect of your drawing or adjust the overall composition, the Crop and Resize tool is a convenient and efficient solution.
Here is the spreadsheet I am happy to share with information about layers availability for each device. It’s a helpful resource to have when you’re trying to decide what iPad to get or when you’re working on a canvas and you’re running out of layers. It’s also important to note that this spreadsheet has information based on a specific canvas size, but with an extra calculation you may also use this table to determine layers if you create a canvas in inches, centimeters, or millimeters. For example, 10x10in with 300 dpi would be 3000x3000px. So you would need to check how many 3000x3000px layers you would get on a specific device.
Have fun 🙂