Procreate Handbook

Version 5X


Procreate offers a variety of ways to modify your artwork while protecting certain areas of content, giving you the freedom to work fast and experiment with confidence.

Layer Locks

While they are not Masks in the digital sense, Locks offer an important related function: they can temporarily protect some or all of a layer from edits. Procreate provides two types of layer Lock.

Layer Lock

To prevent any accidental changes and edits being made on a layer you want to preserve as-is, swipe right-to-left on any layer or Layer Group, and tap Lock.

Locking a Group will lock all layers in that Group. Unlocking any layer in a Group will unlock the entire Group.

When a layer or Group is locked, you’ll see a small padlock symbol next to the name. You cannot edit, move, cut, paste, transform, or delete a layer that is locked. Simply put, you can’t do anything at all to a locked layer. It is completely protected.

To unlock it for editing, swipe right-to-left and tap Unlock.

Alpha Lock

Alpha Lock allows you to lay down a shape or area of artwork, then lock this 'alpha' shape so you can only paint or smudge inside the area that already has paint on it.

Using this, you can block out a character, then freely add color and detail to that character without worrying about painting outside the lines. Or, you can lock your linework to easily recolour parts of it without damaging your original lines.

Once you have blocked out the shape you want, tap the layer to bring up the Layer Options menu, then tap Alpha Lock.

Pro Tip

Alternatively, swipe left to right with two fingers on any layer to instantly activate Alpha Lock.

Active Alpha Lock is shown by the checkered background in the layer thumbnail.

If you want to touch up an edge, or add to the existing shape, turn the Alpha Lock off, make your changes to the artwork, then switch Alpha Lock back on to preserve the alpha once again.

Layer Mask

Masking a layer is a powerful tool for non-destructive experimentation.

You can modify a Layer Mask to hide or show any part of its parent layer without erasing any content. You can also Lock, Transform, and Copy Masks.


Add a Mask attached to your Primary Layer.

Tap your Primary layer to invoke the Layer Options menu, then tap Mask. Your new Mask will appear above and attached to the selected layer.


Use the Eraser or paint in grayscale to edit your Layer Mask.

Layer Masks are edited in grayscale: erasing or painting in black hides parts of the parent layer, and painting in white reveals parts. Varying shades of gray will alter the content with corresponding levels of opacity.

When a Layer Mask is selected as your Primary layer, the Color Panel will ignore hue when selecting colors, ensuring you always paint on a Layer Mask in grayscale.


Select either the Layer Mask or its parent layer as your Primary for different actions.

When you select a Layer Mask as your Primary layer, you can use Erase or Paint to edit the mask. Selecting the parent layer as your Primary allows you to modify the content of that layer underneath the mask.

Selecting either the layer or the mask as the Primary layer will select the other of the pair as a Secondary layer, allowing you to Transform both at once. If you want to Transform the layer or the mask separately, deselect the other item first.


Easily relocate a masked layer without affecting your Layer Mask.

Tap and hold on the Layer Mask or its parent layer to pick up both, and drag them elsewhere in your Layers menu. The Layer Mask will remain attached to its parent layer until you merge or delete it.


Delete or Lock a Layer Mask.

Like any normal layer, swiping left on a Layer Mask reveals buttons to Lock or Delete it.

While a Layer Mask doesn’t have its own Duplicate button, duplicating a masked layer will create a copy of both the layer and the mask.

Clipping Mask

Control the visibility of one layer based on the content of another.

When you activate a Clipping Mask, it clips your active layer to the layer underneath it. The visibility of the clipped layer is controlled by the contents and transparency of the parent layer below.


Turn any layer into a Clipping Mask from the Layer Options menu.

Tap your Primary layer to invoke the Layer Options menu, then tap Clipping Mask. The selected layer will become a Clipping Mask, clipped to the layer below.

If the selected layer is the bottom layer in your Layers panel, the Clipping Mask option is not available.


Experiment with the shape and form of your Clipping Mask using Transform.

Use the Transform tool to move, scale, or distort the content on your parent layer, changing which parts of the clipped layer are visible.


Play with color, texture and effects on your clipped layer with Adjustments.

Explore the power of Adjustments with filters like Opacity, Gaussian Blur, or Liquify to reimagine the appearance of the content on your clipped layer.


Pick up and move a clipped layer to change how the content is affected.

Clipping Masks differ from Layer Masks in that they are independent of the layer they affect. You can pick up and move a Clipping Mask just like any normal layer.

When you move a Clipping Mask layer, it will automatically become clipped to the layer that ends up below it.
If you move a clipped layer to the bottom of your Layers Panel, the Clipping Mask function will automatically be deactivated. However, once a layer is moved below the deactivated Clipping Mask, the Clipping Mask function will automatically reactivate.

Lock, Duplicate, Delete

Control your Clipping Mask with standard layer options.

All the standard Layer Actions and Layer Options are available for Clipping Masks.

Swipe left on a Clipping Mask to reveal buttons for Lock, Duplicate, and Delete.


Toggle Clipping Masks on and off.

To toggle the clipped status of a layer, tap to invoke the Layer Options menu, then tap the Clipping Mask button.